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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-482-4826, ext. 445.
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.
Thank you to all who contributed clothing and stuffed toys at Christmas, which St. JOhn’s Church in Beverly Farms is transporting to Syria. Their parish has invited churches throughout the diocese to support Nuday refugee camps in Syria for those who have been displaced by the civil war there.
A fourth cargo container will be shipped to Syria, and the following donations are welcome:
-Book Bags for children
-School supplies, such as pencils, markers, and notebooks
-Yarn, Fabric and Art Supplies: the women in the camp have expressed interest in making clothes, sweaters, and art projects with children
We will have a basket at church to collect supplies each Sunday throughout Lent. Consider these donations a “giving of alms” during Lent.
Bishop Alan M. Gates and Bishop Gayle E. Harris of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, together with Bishop Douglas J. Fisher of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, have signed a joint letter from 17 church leaders, issued by the Massachusetts Council of Churches, opposing the White House executive action suspending refugee resettlement.
You can find the statement here, along with a message from Bishop Gates addressed to all of us in the diocese.
Iyad Qumri, presenting pilgrims with an overview of Jerusalem
Many of you know that I recently returned from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Traveling through Israel and Palestine, we saw places both ancient and modern, visiting sites associated with the stories of the Bible, all the while seeing and experiencing how this region is deeply divided.
Our guide for the tour was Iyad Qumri. Iyad describes himself as a Palestinian, an Arab, and a Christian. He is accustomed to people being surprised that he is both Arab and Christian. Our preconceptions and stereotypes are often broken apart when we travel, and that is one of the great benefits of a pilgrimage such as this.
The challenges faced by Christian communities in the Middle East has caused many Christians to leave. Many Palestinian Christians live in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, and opportunities for work and freedom to travel, which we take for granted, are limited. Bethlehem, which in 1947 had a population that was 85% Christian, is now only 15% Christian.
What so impresses me about Iyad, his family, and others we met who are living under such challenging circumstances is their deep faith and resilience. Christians in the Holy Land are sometimes referred to as “the living stones.” Their faith is indeed alive, and a witness to us.
I look around us and see the divisions within our own country. I wonder if we can overcome them. And then I remember Iyad, and the way he faces even greater challenges, faithfully bringing the Gospel alive for pilgrims with patience, confidence, and even laughter. And I am given hope.
“I ask President Trump to continue the powerful work of our refugee resettlement program without interruption.” The Most Reverend Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has released a statement in support of refugees and the work of Episcopal Migration Ministries.
Here is an excerpt of Bishop Curry’s statement:
As Christians, we are asked to pray: for our leaders, for our loved ones, for our enemies, and for those who are suffering. Our work does not end with prayer: we also offer assistance to those who are fleeing persecution. We find homes for those who have been forced out of their homes. We feed those who are hungry. The refugees who enter the United States do so after experiencing violence and persecution undeserved of any human being, and they come to the U.S. with hopes to build new lives.
Refugee resettlement is a form of ministry, and one that we, and many other churches and faith-based organizations, cherish. The work of Episcopal Migration Ministries is God’s work, and we show the face of God through the care and compassion in that work.
The full statement of the bishop can be found here.
More information on the work of Episcopal Migration Ministries can be found here.
The Feast of the Epiphany is Friday, January 6. As the culmination of our Christmas celebrations, we remember the coming of the Wise Men to Bethlehem to worship Jesus. The word Epiphany comes from a Greek word meaning “manifestation,” or “appearance.” The wise ones who travelled to Bethlehem are often seen as the first Gentiles to whom the light of Christ was revealed.
We will celebrate with a a simple potluck supper and service at in the Parish House, starting at 6 pm. It will be a child-friendly service, and Tom will present chalk for “chalking the doors” of the church and our homes – it is a tradition we have observed at St. John’s for the last few years, in which we bless our homes for the coming year with chalk inscriptions over the thresholds.
Do you have figures of the three kings or wise men at home? Consider bringing them on Friday and we will place all of them – whatever size – before the manger.