This past Sunday was an absolutely fabulous day in the life of this parish. We welcomed with great joy Bishop Chad Jones into our midst. He preached and taught us on the meaning of the word “saint,” as it plays out in the Bible and also as how it is used by the Church to designate those worthies who have gone before us, marked with the sign of faith. He also gave a presentation in Adult Sunday School on the recent Global Partnerships mission trip to Ecuador, providing the class of over 50 participants with an understanding of the history and the needs of our sister church in that country. (For a full written report, with pictures, on that mission trip, click here to go to our National Website.) He also admitted to the folks attending that he has a new nickname given him by the Ecuadorans—Obispo baῆo! (Ask anyone that was in the class what that means!) Several members of the parish expressed their interest in joining the next mission trip to assist the faithful in Ecuador. And finally, and most wonderfully, he confirmed 9 new members of the parish and also received 8 people who had previously been confirmed by a bishop. I have included some pictures below.
Unfortunately, as Bishop Chad and I were traversing the streets of Asheville on Sunday afternoon, the news broke of the tragic shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The news coverage of this tragedy has been replete with the details and I will not reiterate what is readily available to you about what happened. With that said, as we know, 26 people did not get to go home to their loved ones that day.
Despite all we may hear on the news from various people, including the politicians, community leaders, and the so-called experts, as they weigh-in with their opinions, never forget it all begins with Sin and Evil. As we know, humanity allowed these horrible two things into our world by succumbing to Lucifer, the author of Sin and Evil, as told to us in the Book Genesis. And with his influence now running rampant through our world, what did Satan hope to accomplish in this particular horror foisted upon the good people of Sutherland Springs? His obvious intention was to separate people from the Love of Almighty God. Did he accomplish what he intended to do?
ABSOLUTELY NOT! First and foremost, he drove 26 people directly into the arms of a loving Savior. He did not separate these 26 from God. He merely assured that they would abide with Him always in Glory where no more pain and hurt abide in the joy of everlasting life. Secondly, paying close attention to the reactions of the families and friends of the victims and others throughout Sutherland Springs and the rest of the Christian community, you find that they were urging all of us to pray…PRAY! Praying, the drawing into a closer relationship with God, is precisely the antithesis of Satan’s designs. And finally there is the shooter. Surely Lucifer has wrapped up at least one here to burn with him forever, right? WE DO NOT KNOW! Many times in these situations we hear the shooter has committed suicide or was killed confronting the police. Either of these things happening and the chance for grace may have been lost forever, but we do not know. Admittedly we may “think” we know what will happen to him but that final Day of Judgement, which we profess to believe in every time we say the Nicene Creed, has not arrived yet. And then, and only then, will the shooter’s final fate be decided. Is it still possible to wrest this soul away from the influence of Satan? Is it still possible to turn him to repentance and the acceptance of the salvation that is offered to him by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Just what is possible? As we are assured by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, “…with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:6).
So you see, all that Satan attempted in this awful situation has come to naught. Nothing he intended has come to fruition. Let us give thanks to Almighty God that ultimately His purposes are the ones which are accomplished no matter what the Enemy does. And don’t forget…PRAY!
I am well aware that incidents such as what happened on Sunday ramps up everyone’s anxiety level. And that is not surprising considering how the media constantly drives the images into our homes 24/7. It almost seems you cannot escape it. My advice, first and foremost, is turn off the TV. Get off your smartphone and computer and dive into Holy Scripture. Scripture tells us we are not to be anxious for our lives. Jesus said, “take no thought for your life” (Matthew 6:25) and St. Paul followed that up with, “Be careful for nothing” (Philippians 4:6). The words “thought” and “careful,” as translated in the KJV Bible mean “anxious.” The statistical reality is that there is no safer place to be on a Sunday morning than in church. Driving to the golf course on Sunday morning, instead of church, is more deadly. Your vestry will consider security concerns and how we will move forward in the future to do our best as a parish family to be safe and yet remain the open, loving congregation we are.
One final thought
I was asked on Wednesday night if we were going to arm ourselves in light of the Sunday shooting. The answer is no. As far as I know, there are only two of us in this parish who have ever been trained in active shooter situations in the public realm and I am one of them. Several members are military veterans, trained in combat, and only one is still serving actively. What I am pointing out here is that very few of us actually would know what to do with a firearm if the worst ever happened. This is merely a practical concern. Then there is the more important spiritual one. What are we saying, as Christians, if we carry a firearm into the church? Are we ignoring the clear words of scripture about being anxious? Do we not feel and live the “peace of God which passeth all understanding” when we come to church? Remember, we come to church to worship the Lord and go forth to live His Gospel. We can only live that Gospel when God’s peace, his love, has been “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). Please come see me if you are struggling with any of this.
Our life as a parish family continues, despite the distractions which the world brings to us. With that in mind, be sure to read your announcements below and see what is going on as we worship the Lord and live His Gospel!
Confirmation & Reception Pictures
Annual Stewardship Campaign
· While our annual campaign has been completed, there are still many of you who have not made your commitment for the upcoming year. We know it has been very busy over the past month but we need your help. The Vestry meets Monday night to formulate a budget to present to you next Sunday at the annual meeting. Please bring your card with you on Sunday or use a card from the pews to make your commitment. It is only with your help and commitment that we can be about the Gospel work here at All Saints.
· The vestry meets Monday night, November 13, at 6:30 p.m., in the parish hall.
Annual Parish Meeting & Thanksgiving Dinner
· Our annual Parish Meeting is next Sunday, November 19. The meeting begins at 12:15 p.m. right after the 11 o’clock Holy Communion…and dinner begins right after that! Be sure to be here.
Special Fellowship Lunch on Sunday
· This coming Sunday, in honor of Edwin Blackburn’s upcoming 90th birthday, the Blackburn family will be providing lunch. All of us here at All Saints are Edwin’s extended family, so please be sure to stick around to celebrate Edwin’s special day.
Ladies Advent Luncheon
· The date for our Annual Women’s Advent Luncheon this year is Saturday, December 9 at 1:00 p.m. Sally Blackburn has offered her home to host this catered event. The cost is $10.00 for the lunch. You may give your money to Cynthia Hensley. A sign-up sheet is on the bulletin board. Please R.S.V.P. today. Detailed directions to Sally’s home will be sent via email to those who R.S.V.P.
· Bread of Life in Transylvania County is this month’s recipient of our in-gathering of food stuffs.
· We will celebrate the Holy Communion on Thanksgiving Day at 10:00 a.m. We will sing a few hymns, worship our Lord, and be on our way to Thanksgiving feasting in 45 minutes. Be sure to set aside the time to be here. Since Thanksgiving Day is actually about how Almighty God has blessed us in this nation, is there any better way to start the day than in church? For those who cannot make it on Thursday morning, we will also celebrate the Thanksgiving Day Holy Communion the day before, on Wednesday night, at our usual time of 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday Book Study
· C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters is our study book. It is very easy to jump in at any time. Join us! Class starts at 11:00 a.m. Please read Letters 11-13 for this week.
Wednesday Night Bible Study
· We are studying St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. We will start Chapter 5 this week. Join us Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m.
Men’s Beer & Brats
· Guys, during the women’s Advent luncheon on December 9, the men will gather at the Hensley home for their Annual Beer and Brats, starting about 1:00 p.m. Let Doug Hensley know if you plan on attending.
Advent Lessons & Carols
· The All Saints Choir proudly presents its annual Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols on Sunday, December 3, at 5:00 p.m. This special service was started in 1918 at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England and it is a re-telling of the story of our redemption—from prophecy to fulfillment—through Holy Scripture and music.
St. Nicholas Party
· Don’t forget that our annual St. Nicholas Party always follows right after Advent Lessons & Carols. We have it on good authority that jolly old St. Nick will make it this year to fill up those shoes just like he does every year. Don’t miss your chance to perhaps spy on him as he goes about his work!
This Week in The Parish
Sunday, November 12
Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity
· 8:30 a.m., Holy Communion
· 9:45 a.m., Sunday School
· 11:00 a.m., Holy Communion
· 12:15 p.m., Fellowship Lunch
Monday, November 13
· 6:30 p.m., Book Study
Tuesday, November 14
· 11:00 a.m., Book Study
Wednesday, November 15
· 6:00 p.m., Holy Communion
· 6:30 p.m., Fellowship Dinner
· 7:00 p.m., Bible Study
· 7:00 p.m., Choir Practice
Sunday, November 19
· 12:15 a.m., Annual Parish Meeting & Thanksgving Dinner
Thursday, November 23
· 10:00 a.m., Holy Communion
Saturday, December 2
· 9:00 a.m., Saints Evergreens pickup begins
Sunday, December 3
First Sunday in Advent
· 5:00 p.m., Advent Lessons & Carols
Saturday, December 9
· 1:00 p.m., Ladies Advent Luncheon
· 1:00 p.m., Men’s Brats & Beer