Welcome to St. Matthew’s!
St. Matthew’s is a vibrant, welcoming parish of the Episcopal tradition located in Madison, Alabama. We love welcoming guests to our church, whether you’re just in town for the weekend or are looking for a new church home. We hope you will enjoy your visit with us!
Our Christmas services for 2013 are as follows:
- Sunday, December 15th, 5:00pm: Lessons and Carols, presented by the St. Matthew’s Choir. Reception following in Gruman Hall.
- Tuesday, December 24th, 5:30pm: Christmas Eve service with Children’s Pageant, nursery provided.
- Tuesday, December 24th, 10:30pm: Adult Christmas Eve service, no nursery.
Advent Series with Father Rick and Advent Series for Children with Father Steve
Program for adults: “RECLAIMING OUR SOULS – The Spiritual Wisdom of the Enneagram.” Dinner at 6pm, program begins at 6:45pm.
Program for children: Come to the adult program and drop your kids off at the youth building. Have them dress in their PJ’s. I’ll get some of the older youth to assist me. We will feed them and tell them stories of Christmases past. A sign up sheet is provided in Gruman Hall. Please sign up so we know how many children to prepare for.
- Monday, December 2nd, 6:00pm
- Monday, December 9th, 6:00pm
- Monday, December 16th, 6:00pm
- Monday, December 23rd, 6:00pm
The annual EYC Christmas party, which is one of the highlights of the EYC year, will be held on Friday, December 13th. This year’s party will be hosted for the first time in Gruman Hall! The schedule is as follows: 6-8:00 PM, Jr. High party and 8-10:00 PM, Sr. High party.
We will have music, food, and lots of great games! Bring a $5-$10 gift for Dirty Santa! Please contact me if you would like to chaperone or provide food.
The next teachersʼ meeting will be Sunday, December 15th for those teaching second semester. It will be at 10:00 in the Parish Hall.
Looking for a hands-on way to give back this season of Advent? In what has become a yearly tradition, we will be gift-wrapping at the Barnes & Noble at Bridge Street again from 12/14 through 12/24. Supplies are provided so all we need are two friendly smiling faces to man the gift-wrap table for 2-hour shifts. The gift-wrapping is free to B&N customers but we get to keep the tips (donations) we receive. It is a wonderful and easy fundraiser to support this ministry that focuses on incarcerated people and women whose lives have been impacted by having an incarcerated family member. Just ask one of the many folks at St. Matthew’s who have worked a Kairos Outside weekend or gone inside to Limestone or Tutwiler and they will be happy to tell you all about this ministry.
Older teens and people outside the church are welcome to join in- invite your neighbor, book club or Bible study members to share a couple hours for a good cause. If you are interested in taking a shift or 2 or 3, contact the church office for more information
Join us Sunday, December 15th, 2013 for Lessons and Carols, presented by the St. Matthew’s Choir. Hear your favorite Christmas hymns along with lessons to accompany this joyous time of year.
Each year during Advent we collect offerings for church staff Christmas gifts. “Special Gift” envelopes are provided in your bulletins each week, or you can just mark your check in the memo section “staff gift”. Collections will be taken thru Sunday, December 15th. These offerings are divided among our staff using a predetermined formula based on the years of service at St. Matthew’s and the hours worked per week. The staff members who share in your gifts are: Fr. Steve and Fr. Rick, Cathy Williams (Parish Administrator), Lee Ann Mack (Christian Formation Director), Tom Killian (Music Director), Amy West (Youth Director), Michelle Webb (Organist), Jennifer Townsend (Nursery Worker), Fran Alexander (Sexton), James Allen (Groundskeeper). Thank you in advance for your gifts of love & gratitude for our staff.
- December 8 – Second Sunday. Sr. High EYC will gather to worship together at the 5PM service. Afterwards, we will go to my house for dinner and a Christmas movie!
- December 13 – EYC Christmas Party.
- December 15 – Madison Manor.
There will be no Pizza With the Padre in December!
The Art Guild members have voted and have named their group the Art Angels!
In October, members submitted designs and ideas for prospective Christmas cards and note cards to be used by the ECW and various outreach ministries. On Dec. 8th, (at both coffee hours) they will be offering art objects for sale with a portion of the sale proceeds being donated to the Church.
The group continues to study the “Noticer” by Andy Andrews. For more info, contact Anne Sullivan.
I’ve been a priest for over 36 years. During that time, I’ve served parishes of all sizes, demographics and liturgical preferences. I’ve been a Curate, Associate, Vicar and Rector. In each setting, I have chaired and/or attended the requisite Annual Meeting. Without exception, these have felt more like an act of penance than a blessed communal gathering. The anticipation of such produced in me an unwanted state of tedium and angst.
And then St. Matthew’s happened!
As I write, this is the day after our Annual Meeting. Fr. Steve and I have together reflected on this experience. Because I’m still the “new guy on the block” my perspective is fresh and a bit more objective. Let me say from the outset that our Annual Meeting was by far the best I’ve ever attended. Why? Because we pulled off the virtually impossible task of couching a business meeting in an intentional spiritual context. Perhaps you don’t realize how wonderfully unique this is. Well, I’m here to tell you that indeed it is wonderful and unique! A revival of sorts, with prayers, “preaching,” exhortation, singing and alleluias. I wish you could have been in my shoes and seen the joy in your eyes and felt the spirit bursting forth from your hearts.
This is a wonderful place, a blessed community, a faithful people. To whom much is given, much is expected. God is calling us to great things in the name of Jesus. When I think about it, this Annual Meeting was the beginning of our Advent. So: “Shhhhh! Quiet!! Slow down!!! Advent has begun. Listen, for God is calling.
Love & Blessings, Fr. Rick
Advent and Beyond
December 1 marks the beginning of our church year – Advent 1. We light one candle in our Advent wreath. Advent is about waiting. What are we waiting for?
The four Sundays preceding Christmas are set-aside for Advent. We are thusly waiting on the Lord’s birth. Yet, as the years go by, the season for preparation for Christmas has begun to start before Halloween for many retailers. The catalogues come even as early as the second week of October.
We aren’t very good at waiting. I made a lot of money in the landscape business from people that couldn’t wait. These wanted instant gratification. These wanted mature growth plants that would fill the spaces up in their new landscapes. I would explain that these larger plants would need more care than the smaller ones. They would outgrow the space in a short while and “you will need to do this again.” I charged them more because I guaranteed my plants for a year. I would be checking the landscape regularly for this extra charge.
There is a lot we expect out of life. If we have been successful in negotiating the world, and we have an income that lets us have extras, we generally expect even more. We do this with the church as well. I once had a couple tell me they weren’t coming to church because they came on Christmas Eve and the service lasted too long. O.K. I don’t know what to tell someone when he or she poses this dilemma.
Jesus knew this was a human frailty. He came to give us life and truth. In the garden, before his crucifixion, he found his men sleeping. “Couldn’t you keep watch with me for one hour…” Jesus asked them. He passion lasted from that night until the afternoon of the next day. During this time, he was tried and convicted of crimes he didn’t commit, and then beaten and hung on a cross to die. One hour was all he wanted. We are so overcommitted that we find it difficult to sit through a two-hour worship service to remember the birth of the man that did this for us.
These same people were season ticket holders to one of our state football teams. They never miss. They drive faithfully to watch the game, arriving early and leaving late. I suppose we might say this isn’t the same. We can’t compare football to worship. There is excitement and energy.
We do have choices. Advents will come and go. It is what happens next that determines the rest of our life story. This couple chose. Their lives are shaped by a much different reality than the story of Jesus. Advent and beyond is about anticipation. I believe Jesus is with us always, as he said in Matthew 28. I believe Jesus will answer our prayers. Live as if he is coming tomorrow. Wait and see what the Lord will do for you.
Peace, Fr. Steve+
8:30am - Holy Eucharist, Traditional
11:00am - Holy Eucharist, Traditional
5:00pm - Holy Eucharist, Contemporary
12:00pm - Holy Eucharist, Traditional
Visit our worship page for more information.