Spring Fling!

Join us for an evening of fun, food, magic, and more!

This Saturday, June 3rd from  6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. is St. John’s Spring Fling.  It is shaping up to be a wonderful evening.  There will be an opportunity to sign up for “Breaking Bread” events — social gatherings and events throughout the year that various parishioners have kindly volunteered to host.  By way of example, if you would like to have brunch in Gloucester and see the schooners or have dinner at a wonderful home on the Training Field, don’t miss the opportunity to sign up on Saturday night.  Any profits we make on Saturday will help to offset our budget deficit and 10% will be shared with Harvest on Vine, The Harvard Kent Leadership & Scholarship Partnership and B-SAFE.

 

A Sabbatical Season

Dear Friends,

It is hard for me to believe that I have been serving with all of you for over five years now. September will mark our sixth anniversary of being in ministry together. As announced at the Annual Meeting in February, I will be taking a three month sabbatical this year. Combined with two weeks of vacation, it means I will be away from St. John’s from July 24 through November 2.

The wardens and vestry have been working with me to arrange coverage during the sabbatical. We anticipate hiring an interim priest to be with us two or three days a week, including Sundays. Our priest and pastoral associates,   Lyn, Dick, and Liz, will continue with their regular assistance in preaching and presiding, and their engagement in the pastoral life of the parish. We also anticipate that many of you will participate in carrying out ministries that are important to our life together.

A sabbatical after five years of service is part of my  Letter of Agreement, and the vestry has supported my decision to take it at this time. I am sure there are many questions people may have about the sabbatical, and in the coming weeks, the wardens and I will provide more details about what this three and a half month period will be like.

This will be a time of renewal for me. A theme of my sabbatical will be to focus on creative endeavors, including oil painting and piano lessons. The sabbatical will also be a time for the parish to more clearly identify the strengths and opportunities of its members. You will hear more about that as well in the weeks to come.  I’m grateful for the vestry’s support, and confident that under their leadership, we will continue to be a community where people can hear the Spirit, see God’s beauty, and act in love.

Faithfully,

Tom

 

 

 

 

Charlestown Historical Society Church Tour

St. John’s will be one of four churches open to visit for the Charlestown Historical Society’s Church Tour on Saturday, June 3 from 10 am to 2 pm.

St. Francis de Sales, St. Mary’s, First Church, and St. John’s will all be part of the tour. It is suggested that people begin the tour at St. Francis Church, where brochures will be available. Lemonade and cookies will be offered at St. John’s at the end of the day.

 

EfM: Formation for Christian Leadership

From Left to Right: David Bresnahan, Kathleen Steen, Jane Struss, Alice Krapf

On Sunday May 21, four graduates of the Education for Ministry Program (EfM) were recognized at the 10 am service. Alice Krapf, David Bresnahan, Jane Struss, and Kathleen Steen each received their diplomas at the service. EfM provides adult Christian formation through a four-year curriculum that includes bible study, church history, ethics, worship, and theological reflection.

An EfM group has been meeting on Wednesday evenings at St. John’s, and will resume in September. We are currently seeking new participants. More information can be obtained by contacting the church office

Read Esther

Dear Friends,

This week, I call your attention to the biblical book of Esther (and not for a reason some of you might think). You will see in the article below that the presiding bishops of the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are inviting us to undertake disciplines of fasting, prayer, and advocacy on behalf of those who suffer from hunger in our country.

What does that have to do with Esther? I won’t say more. Rather, I encourage you to read the bishops’ messages (or watch their videos) and read the book of Esther. You never know when you might be called “for such a time as this.”

Faithfully,

Tom

 

For Such A Time As This: A Call to Prayer, Fasting, and Advocacy

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have issued a joint statement calling for prayer, fasting and advocacy.

The statement, For Such a Time as This: A Call to Prayer, Fasting, and Advocacy, calls for fasting on the 21st of each month through December 2018, at which time the 115th Congress will conclude. 

The 21st of each month is targeted because by that time each month, 90% of SNAP (formerly food stamp) benefits have been used, thereby causing the last week of the month as the hungry week in America.

 The fast will launch with a group of national and local leaders doing a three-day fast together May 21-23. These leaders include Presiding Bishop Curry, Presiding Bishop Eaton, and leadership throughout the Episcopal Church.

 

Click here to read the bishops’ full statements and to see video presentations by each of them.

On the Road Again

Dear Friends,

Last Sunday, in preaching about Luke’s story of two disciples on the road to Emmaus, I concluded the sermon with a poem. Several of you asked about the source of the poem and for a copy of it.

I composed the poem a few years ago at a diocesan clergy conference. There was an afternoon workshop with a poet, and we were encouraged to write poems in response to the Emmaus story. There were any number of evocative poems, some in free verse. As someone who loves to sing hymns, my poems inevitably take on the structure of a hymn text.  So here  is the poem.

Whatever road you are on this week, I invite you to be listening and watching for the presence of Jesus Christ illuminating our hearts and minds  with resurrection life.

Faithfully,

Tom

EMMAUS

Upon the road we often walked
You joined us, stranger, as we talked.
And bid us, “Tell me of your loss-”
The meal, the garden, then the cross
A dulling grief, a piercing pain
Beloved, never seen again.

But on that road, and then with bread
We met the living, not the dead.
No shrouded corpse within a tomb
|But radiance that filled the room.
And hearts ignited by the fire
Of you, our love, and life’s desire.

 

Anything But Low

Dear Friends,

The Sunday after Easter is sometimes referred to as “Low Sunday.” It is not unusual to see a dip in attendance after the full pews on Easter. One can understand if the energy of the many lay ministers, choir members, staff, and clergy who create our liturgy each week flags a bit after all of the good work of Holy Week. My experience teaches me however, that the Holy Spirit does not keep time as we do, and that fresh expressions of resurrection joy are not limited to one Easter day.

This Sunday, I will be in a place where I suspect there will be lots of energy. I will be spending the first part of the 10 am service with our Godly Play class, which is led so ably by Rachel Pfost. I won’t be there to teach, but rather to listen and to participate as we continue to wonder about the Easter story and all that Jesus’ resurrection means to us. I have a hunch that the energy level in that room will be anything but low on Sunday.  I will then join the rest of you at the sharing of the Peace.

If you have never sat with Rachel and our children in a Godly Play session, I encourage you to do so. In our community, it is as crucial a circle of formation as any Sunday liturgy or sermon. You will see and hear our children doing what we are all encouraged to do – to hear the stories and parables of scripture, to wonder and reflect on what they mean for our lives, and in so doing, to encounter Jesus Christ.

I also invite you to join us anytime on Friday mornings at 10, where a growing group of children, parents, and caregivers gathers each week to sing and pray and hear stories from the Bible. You most certainly do not need to be a toddler or preschooler to participate!

Wherever you are this Sunday, may it be anything but “low.”

Faithfully,

Tom

 

 

Inheriting a Tradition

Dear Friends,

If you look around your home, you may have a cherished object that once belonged to a parent or a grandparent. Perhaps it has even been passed along through several generations of your family Whether it is a chair, a vase, or the family silver, such objects come to us associated with the persons who once used them, and we treasure them.

This week, we will be hearing again the story of Jesus’ passion. It is a story that has been cherished by each generation, and handed from one to the next. Along the way however, the story has been interpreted and used, and at times abused, to bring harm to others.

The gospel stories themselves, written decades after Jesus death, already reflect growing tensions between the emerging Christian community and the Jewish faith from which it sprang. In Matthew’s gospel, which we will hear tomorrow, at one point the crowd in Jerusalem is heard shouting to Pilate, calling for Jesus’ death in these words: “His blood be upon us and on our children.”

Tragically, words such as these and the portrayal of the Jewish community in the Passion narratives contributed to a destructive strain of anti-Semitism in the Christian Church,  resulting in persecution, discrimination, and oppression against Jews in centuries to come. Jesus’ death came at the hands of the Roman authorities, not the Jewish people.

We receive and proclaim a cherished story this week. With it, we also inherit a tradition which must be examined and rejected, accompanied by our own repentance. The tragic mistakes of the past serve as a warning for us about the demonization of any group of persons or of any faith.  We do indeed receive a cherished “family treasure” in this coming week. Even as we receive it with gratitude, let us hold it and use it with care, that in it we will hear only the liberating and life giving message it was meant to convey.

Faithfully,

Tom