Epiphany Star
Newsletter, Church of the Epiphany
December 2020
Clergy Clatter

One of my very earliest memories is putting out a plate of snacks for Santa before going to bed on Christmas Eve. We were living in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and you can guess what the winters are like in Cheyenne. Like most houses in that climate, we had a fireplace in the living room with a gas log for supplemental heat, especially in the event of a power failure. There were times after a blizzard or storm, when we would spend the night huddled around that gas log, waiting for power to be restored. The unique thing about those fire places was that there were no chimneys. They were self venting, and you sure didn’t want the heat from the gas log going up a chimney.
Well, I don’t know if families still do this, but tradition was that we put together a plate of cookies, candies, and other treats on a table by the fireplace so Santa could have a snack after coming down the chimney to deliver our presents. I vaguely remember scouring the refrigerator and cabinets, finding all sorts of things to put out for Santa. And I remember coming into the living room on Christmas morning and first checking to see if Santa ate my snacks, before turning to the Christmas Tree with its gifts. For some strange reason, showing hospitality to Santa was very important to me.
But there’s another side to this. I apparently was a pretty observant little guy. I knew that our fireplace did not have a chimney. How was Santa supposed to come down a chimney that didn’t exist? And how did Santa avoid being burned up by the gas log? And how did he get to everyone’s house that one night? And how did reindeer and a sleigh land on the roof without my hearing it? The truth was that I figured out very early that there was no Santa. But still, it was very important to me to prepare Santa’s snack, and important that I check and make sure he ate his snack, even thought I knew he didn’t exist.
I think even a young child recognizes symbols and rituals. And sometimes those symbols and rituals are more important than hard cold facts. From time to time someone will ask me if I really believe the Christmas Story. That’s like asking how Santa gets down a chimney that isn’t there. It’s the wrong question. The right question is, “Does the Christmas Story mean something to me?” And the answer is a mighty “Yes.” I don’t care if the inn was a stable, or a cave, or a local pub. I don’t care what the date was. For me, all of those little details are academic exercises. And they are fun, and they are interesting, but they are like the reindeer on the roof.
What’s important to me is that The Great Creating God sent the power of love and forgiveness into this world, to show us how it was intended to be, how it could be, and that there was a better way. Yes. I feel in my heart every word of the Christmas Story.
I wish you a Blessed Season this strange but holy Christmas.

Richard +

And so a new church calendar year begins with the season of Advent. Welcome to Lectionary Year B!


On The First Sunday, we hold in mind Christ's coming in glory to judge the world; The Second and Third Sundays are to remember John the Baptist and the prophets who prepare us to recognize the Christ. Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after the Third Sunday are the Winter Ember Days—days of prayer for the Church, for ordained ministers, and for all Christians in their vocations. On December 17, the Great "O" antiphons begin with the Magnificat; The Fourth Sunday turns our focus toward the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph and their call to receive and nurture the Christ Child.

Within this season: Saint Andrew's Day on November 30 remembers the first apostle Jesus called who immediately brought his brother, Simon, to Christ; The Conception of the Blessed Virgin on December 8; and Saint Thomas, who doubted and then believed, on December 21. Among the minor commemorations, Saint Nicholas, patron of children and seafarers, is remembered on December 6.

In Advent, as in few other times in the year, the Church's calendar is at odds with culture; in the Church, Advent is a time of restraint and contemplation marked by growing joy and hope, in contrast to the hectic and almost frantic quality of western cultures' attempt to celebrate "the holidays."

The Advent wreath makes a focal point for prayer at home; the liturgy in church is restrained and subdued. Certainly, any Christian who is able would want to participate in the liturgies for each of these Sundays, as each serves its role in shaping our hope and preparing us for what follows. Evening services, particularly the service of Lessons and Carols, remind us that we are in "the time before" as we await the dawning light of God's presence and, in the northern hemisphere, we move through the longest nights of the year. 

The Twelve Days of Christmas 

Christmas Day commemorates the Nativity and rejoices in the Word made Flesh. Three saints' days follow Christmas Day: Saint Stephen, the first deacon and martyr; Saint John, apostle and evangelist; and The Holy Innocents, remembering those killed in Herod's attempt to destroy the Christ Child. This day is also a time of prayer for all victims of terror and abuse. The Holy Name on January 1 opens the civil year. The Epiphany on January 6 concludes the Twelve Days of Christmas and celebrates the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles and the response of the Three Kings to that revelation. Along with Christmas Eve or Day, New Year's Day and Epiphany are days to participate in the Eucharist, if at all possible.

From the Saint Augustine's Prayer Book

The Advent Calendars are here! Free to a good home. Stop by the office to pick yours up before they are all gone.

The Alter Guild has 2021 Episcopal Church Year Guide Calendars for sale. See Jim Fisher to purchase one.
Vestry Highlights
Nov. 12, 2020

  • Reported that change from wafers to bread at communion has been well received.

  • Reported that pledges are coming in well.

  • Reported that copy write license has been secured for the music we are putting on line.

  • Reported Wednesday on line music offerings by Joe Ritchie are being very well received.

  • Reported clergy have prepared a Thanksgiving message to go on line Thanksgiving Day in lieu of a service.

  • Discussed possibility of live streaming Sunday Services and related costs and equipment. Tabled.

  • Discussed management of grounds and landscaping.

  • Approved paying $25 per month to All in One Accounting to handle our tax reporting. (They have been doing it as a favor, but are now requesting payment.

  • Reviewed report from Centennial Committee. Bishop will be attending

  • Next meeting, January 14, 2021.

  • Approved plans for Christmas Eve Service as follows:

  1. Date: Thursday 24th
  2. Time: 7:00 P.M.
  3. Location: Outside
  4.  Perhaps Christmas Carols played before service
  5. Welcome
  6. Opening Collect
  7. Read Christmas Story – Place Jesus in Crèche
  8. Brief Homily
  9. “O Holy Night” – James Solo
  10. Eucharist Rite III
  11. James sings Carols during distribution of Communion
  12. Blessing
  13. Dismissal
  14. (30 minutes)

NOTE: Weather permitting, there will be an in-person church service on Epiphany's Lawn on Sundays at 10 am with communion (bread only). Face covering (mouth and nose) required. Service bulletin will be provided but you are welcome to bring your own Book of Common Prayer. Also, please bring your own chair. Blankets and quilts are acceptable. Services last approximately 1/2 hour. Otherwise, in-person church service will be held inside with COVID restrictions and guidelines, if Norfolk's PCR Testing average is below 8%.
Sunday Morning Service YouTube Schedule

Looking for Readers for the Wednesday taping of the Sunday YouTube Services. If you are interested, please contact the office at 757-622-7672

Dec. 6 - Second Sunday of Advent - Holy Eucharist:
  • Homily by Julia Ashby.
  • Officiant - Richard Bridgford.
  • Lector - Brian Pritchard.
  • Organist - Joe Ritchie.
  • Vocals - James Coaxum.
  • Video & Editing - Emmett "Buddy" Pate.

Dec. 13 - Third Sunday of Advent - Holy Eucharist:

  • Homily by Richard Bridgford.
  • Officiant - Julia Ashby.
  • Lector - Ariel Fernandez
  • Organist - Joe Ritchie.
  • Vocals - James Coaxum.
  • Video & Editing - Emmett "Buddy" Pate.

Dec. 20 - Fourth Sunday of Advent - Holy Eucharist:

  • Homily by Julia Ashby.
  • Officiant - Richard Bridgford.
  • Lector - TBA.
  • Organist - Joe Ritchie.
  • Vocals - James Coaxum.
  • Video & Editing - Emmett "Buddy" Pate.

Dec. 27 - Diocesan Christmas 1 Service

As a gift to the diocese, the Diocesan Office staff, in conjunction with Diocesan liturgists, will be offering worship on Sunday, December 27, 2020. This is the first Sunday after Christmas. The service will be produced ahead of time and offered virtually to the entire diocese. This will enable clergy, if they choose, to have this Sunday off. It will also be an opportunity for the diocese to worship together during one of the most joyful times of the year.

More details will be forthcoming, but we wanted you to have this news as you make your Christmas and Advent plans. O Come Let Us Adore Him!

Be on the lookout for emails giving the details and links for the services on YouTube featuring our favorite priests, Richard Bridgford and Julia Ashby.
In Our Thoughts and Prayers

Ann Bolen
Sheila Brinck
Jerry Cronin
Kevin LaPointe
Mike Scott
Nell Steckman
December Birthdays

5       Julia Ashby
6       Shane Foster
8      John Childers
9      Jonas Porter
9       Marley Stein
17     Devin Noel Fowler
19     Tommy Gilleland
19     Beth Cutrell
25    Barbara Lester
25     Marysharon Melchiorre
26     Elizabeth Willis

December Anniversaries

29     Marcia & Jerry Cronin
Stewardship Joint Report
Tidbits from the Treasury
John Greene and Tina Wright

This is a joint update on both the recently-concluded 2020 Stewardship Campaign and the State of the Treasury. This is not a plea for money, which most Treasurer’s presentations are; rather, this is a “good news” story about where we are financially. There will also be a Congregational Meeting at some point next spring, when virus conditions allow, with an update on “where we are in the movie” at that time.

Most of you probably don’t know or think about Epiphany’s annual budget, but this year’s is just shy of $124,000. What that pays for is the services of our long-time Priest-in-Charge, Richard, and Pastoral Assistant, Julia; our videographer, Buddy Pate, who records the weekly services we’re all able to watch and how many of us “stay in touch” with Epiphany; and the superb organ and piano skills of Joe Ritchie and our soloist, James Coaxum. As well, Carol Fernandez, who keeps the building spotless; and John Moscoe, our Parish Clerk, who keeps everything flowing smoothly in the front office. Those funds also allow us to “keep the lights on,” water flowing, heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. Yes, COVID-19 has changed things, including outdoor services, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still bills to be paid! We also make and keep a Diocesan pledge each year; and contribute to various other causes throughout the year. Last but not least, there is also our beautiful Church “campus,” which needs mowing, weeding and fertilizing; and there’s now our Rain Garden and other landscaping, which are the result of many hours of volunteer labor and financial contributions. The upshot of this is upkeep isn’t free! 

Where we are ten-plus months into the year is that you have contributed generously just shy of $100,000 toward Church expenses. That is truly good news considering all that has happened and continues, in particular the deadly COVID-19 virus. Your giving is a testament to your love of Christ and commitment to this Church. Our total expenses, though, have exceeded income by $8,000+, and we’re on track to end the year with a deficit of about $10,000. Next year? Our budget is just over $134,500 for 2021, or $10,500 more than this year. This is due largely but not solely to previously unbudgeted, but critical, staff expenses. As mentioned, there’s keeping the building clean, even moreso now, and using new technologies to produce the Sunday video services. Regrettably, we also had to postpone our yard sale, which in years past has been a considerable fundraiser. Thus, our expenses have exceeded our income. Let us all hope and pray 2021 is a much better year for us all!

What can everyone do about it? First, it’s a matter of what you have done already! To those of you who have pledged your financial support to Epiphany, both this year and next, a HUGE thank you! Your contributions will allow Epiphany to thrive and continue our mission while many churches are inactive. We received 31 generous pledges totaling $90,234 for next year, which cover nearly 70 percent of the 2021 budget!  Those figures allow for at least a preliminary estimate of how much income there will be. Clearly this is an inexact “science,” as there is also seasonal and end-of-year giving, as well as from many who don’t pledge. If you tithe, great; if you give what you can, also great. If you can give just a bit more, better still. It’s all in support of God’s work here on earth and knowing that you’re part of it!

If you haven’t pledged yet, please send Tina an email (tinamwright@cox.net) with your name and the amount (specify weekly, monthly or annual amount). If your situation allows, also please keep your 2020 pledge current through the end of the year. Gifts of any amount are appreciated, and all pledges are confidential. 

Thank you from both of us, the Clergy and Vestry for your support, for your prayers, and for your generosity to Epiphany and our community at large.
Thank you,

John Greene, Treasurer
Tina Wright, Stewardship
We are compiling a gallery of pictures of Epiphany members to document life during the Pandemic. Please email your photos to our webmaster Buddy Pate at:


We are also collecting historical pictures of Epiphany and members, for the 100th anniversary of our church. Please also email those pictures to Buddy. If you have old photos, but need them scanned, we can do this at the church (call John Moscoe for an appointment).

For the latest schedule of events, visit our website at