I hope by now you have received information about our Capital Campaign, “See God’s Beauty.” Some of you have already made a pledge to the campaign, and I am delighted to share the news that we have now have $102,500 in commitments. That is exciting news, but we still have quite a way to go to reach our goal of $175,000.
We have already begun work on two of the projects that will keep our buildings in good condition for years to come. The Building Committee has been addressing drainage issues in the Parish House basement, and is now making plans for repairs and painting of the exterior of the Parish House. And there are more projects to come, including more welcoming office space.
I hope each of you will consider making a pledge for the campaign. The vestry and I know this will involve sacrificial giving; we hope that campaign pledges, made for a one, two, or three year commitment will be made beyond the annual pledge that people make for our stewardship campaign. You know best what you will be able to say “yes” to, and we make this invitation not to add a burden to anyone’s life. The best gift you can offer is the one that can be made with a glad and generous heart.
Some of you met Brian Raiche from Cornerstone Fundraising at one of our receptions. He has worked with many churches like ours to achieve their goals. He shared two stories at the reception that describe that kind of joyful giving. The first was of a woman who reflected on the fact that she was paying the mobile phone bills for three of her children. When she calculated what a three year gift might look like broken down to a monthly gift, she realized it equaled one more phone bill. She decided she could make that pledge, almost as if she were adding one more phone bill to her commitment to her family.
Brian also told of a Unitarian church where a young girl who was present to hear about the campaign was inspired to fill out a pledge card. She proudly pledged $1 to the campaign. Her total commitment and enthusiasm energized and inspired others.
No gift is too small, and no gift is too large! This Sunday, we will invite you to place your pledge card in the offering plates as they are passed for the offering. Please prayerfully consider your gift, and join others in helping us all to see God’s beauty.
The 2017 vestry met for the first time on Tuesday, March 21 at the Parish House. Here are some highlights from their meeting:
- New vestry members were welcomed: Lorraine Gagnon, Rosemary Kverek, Catherine Womack, and Sarge Locke (Treasurer). Paul Newell, our new Clerk, could not join us for the meeting.
- The vestry heard updates from the Building Committee and the Garden Group (copies of their minutes are available on the vestry bulletin board in the Parish House. They also had an update on the Capital Campaign from Fay Donohue, Cochair of campaign. The first two projects being undertaken with campaign funds are the drainage project in the Parish House basement and the painting of the exterior of the Parish House.
- Tom Mousin and Doug Heim led a conversation about the planned sabbatical for Tom, which tentatively will start on August 1, with Tom returning in mid-November.
- Maureen Lavely was elected as a delegate to Diocesan Convention.
- The vestry approved a resolution to apply for grant money from the Wynn Casino mitigation funds for the painting of the Parish House.
- The vestry approved the rector’s recommendation to hire a bookkeeper for one to two hours a week to assist the treasurer and Parish Administrator in handling parish finances.
Everything, actually. Sunday April 2nd, join priest associate Dick Simeone after the 10:00 service for “Holy Week on Steroids”, a quick look at the liturgies of Holy Week. Find out why the distant events of Jesus’ last week speak directly to our life now. Pick up your coffee and munchies and join Dick in the Godly Play room.
A Sermon for St. John’s Episcopal Church
March 12, 2017
by the Rev. Lyn G. Brakeman
Genesis 12:1-4a Psalm 121 Romans 4: 1-5, 13-17 John 3: 1-17
May I speak to you in the name of God who rebirths us—again and again and again—to BE a blessing.
It’s born-again Sunday! To be born again is a laughable idea, in ancient times and maybe for some today. But born-again is an idea with such creative depth and oddness that even Jesus might have laughed. To be born again means to be baptized, blessed and born into Wonder day after day. It’s laughably remarkable AND it’s how we can BE a blessing—day after day after day.
On each of the last two Sundays, we heard stories from scripture in which Jesus heard the words of the Spirit, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” The stories suggest a voice that rang out with clarity. As we listen for God’s guidance in our lives, the voice is not always as clear or convincing.
Nonetheless, as our Mission Statement suggests, we are invited to listen for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as discern how we are to respond to Jesus Christ’s call to be a disciple.
I know that my call to ordained ministry did not come as a result of one clear voice or vision, but rather from an accumulation of voices – from friends, mentors, and others, as well as the interior and repeated promptings I was hearing in my own heart.
As I or others at St. John’s invite you to consider engaging in particular ministries, I hope you will be attentive to how the Holy Spirit is moving in your life. Yes, sometimes coincidences are just coincidences. It is also true that there are times when we cannot ignore the number of people who have addressed us about a particular gift we have that could be shared; it is more than a coincidence. The Spirit also may be speaking to us when we have a thought or impulse to offer ourselves, especially if we keep tucking it away but keeps returning. The Spirit may be speaking to us when we hear an invitation and discover a strange combination of fear and joy stirring in our hearts.
This week, there are several invitations below for ministry, here and beyond the parish. I hope you will hearing in them whatever the Spirit may be saying to you as you consider how to respond.
The current discussion of U.S. policy on immigration raises issues of justice and values in the church and society. In response, Bishop Alan M. Gates and Bishop Gayle E. Harris are convening a special event for education and strategizing about the church’s response and responsibility in ministry with immigrants.
“Immigration and The Church 101: The Lord’s Song in a Foreign Land” will be held on Sunday, March 26, 4-8 p.m., at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (138 Tremont Street) in Boston. Guest speakers will share expertise in legal and other aspects of the issues at hand.
All clergy and lay leaders in the congregations of the diocese are invited to participate.
Refreshments will be served. To ensure that there will be enough food, seats and materials for everyone, RSVP by March 22 to Marsha Searle at email@example.com or 617-482-4826, ext. 445.
A Sermon for St. John’s Episcopal Church
March 5, 2017
by the Rev. Thomas N. Mousin
Just who do you think you are? That is a question we often ask of another when her or she is getting too big for their britches, or acting out of turn, or trying to make us do something we do not want to do. Just who do you think you are?
Of course, tone and inflection has a lot to do with what we mean by that question. I could ask it in another way, with a different inflection: Just who do you think you are? Asked that way, it becomes not an accusation or question made in anger, but instead an inquiry, an invitation to the one being asked to consider his or her identity.
Every Friday at 10 am, we gather in the church for a time of singing, praying, and learning more about what it means to worship God. All children – from infants to preschoolers, are welcome to join us, along with their parents and caregivers. We meet for about 25 minutes on a rug in front of the altar. We hope you can join us.
When our vestry adopted a new mission statement last September, one of the primary statements that emerged was a call to “See God’s Beauty.” That statement emerged in part from conversations about the legacy of beautiful and historic structures that we have inherited from those who have come before us. On many occasions, a newcomer or visitor will comment to me about the spacious inviting beauty of our sanctuary, or of the quiet serenity of our garden. Yes, our buildings are beautiful.
God’s beauty shines through more than our stained glass windows, however. The vestry was also well aware that we behold God’s beauty in many other ways: we see it in a family gathered around the baptismal font as we welcome a new member into the Body of Christ, in a 12 step recovery community gathered to support one another each week in the Parish Hall, or in our young children learning about the “ten best ways” to live in Godly Play – these are all windows as well in which and through which we behold the beauty of all that God has made.
Our new capital campaign, with a goal of $175,000 is designed to enable our parish to preserve and improve our church and parish house so that they will be places that help us to carry out God’s mission in the years to come.
I hope you will join us for one of our two remaining receptions: Wednesday, March 15 at 4 pm or at 7 pm. There you will learn more about our plans for improvements, and how you can participate. It will also provide you with an opportunity to have your questions answered and to share your thoughts. Each reception will be about an hour in length.
Together, we can do more than see – we can also help to create the spaces and community where people will continue to hear the Spirit, see God’s beauty, and act in love.
A Sermon for St. John’s Episcopal Church Charlestown, Massachusetts
Preached on February 26, 2017
The Last Sunday after the Epiphany
by the Rev. Thomas N. Mousin
Exodus 24:12-18 Matthew 17:1-9
This week, with the gift of some extra time, I beheld Glory. I was not on Mount Sinai with Moses, where the glory of the Lord appeared like a devouring fire. Nor was I with Peter, James, and John, when Jesus was transfigured before them and his face shone like the sun. Rather, I was in the small town of Gilead, Iowa, the location of three novels by the author Marilynne Robinson. Continue reading