Dear St. John’s,
Have you ever wondered why we’re called the Episcopal Church? “Episcopal” refers to bishops, one of the three ordained ministries in the church (the others being priests and deacons).
The glossary of terms on the denominational website (https://www.episcopalchurch.org/glossary/) explains that “bishops serve as chief pastors of the church, exercising a ministry of oversight and supervision. Diocesan bishops hold jurisdiction in their dioceses, with particular responsibility for the doctrine, discipline and worship of the church. Bishops serve as the focus for diocesan unity and for the unity of their dioceses with the wider church. Since the bishop's ministry is a ministry of oversight, the term ‘episcopal’ (derived from the Greek episcopos, ‘overseer’) is applied to matters pertaining to bishops. An ‘episcopal’ church is a church governed by bishops, and ‘episcopal’ services are led by bishops.”
Diocesan bishops oversee the geographic areas called dioceses in our church. St. John’s belongs to the Diocese of Newark, which encompasses the northern half of New Jersey and is led Bishop Carlye Hughes. Such bishops are required to visit every parish in the diocese at least once every three years. Bishop Hughes will visit us on March 17, where she will celebrate and preach at the 10:30 a.m. Eucharist, greet the congregation at coffee hour, and then meet with the vestry and clergy.
To learn more about what’s happening in our diocese and the work of our bishop and the diocesan staff, I encourage you to explore the diocesan website (https://dioceseofnewark.org), read our diocesan newsletters (https://dioceseofnewark.org/e-news) and to listen to (or read) the bishop’s vlog posts (https://dioceseofnewark.org/bishops-vlog). On the website, you also can sign up to receive the every-other-week newsletters and other announcements via email.
I hope you all will mark the date on your calendar and join me in welcoming our bishop in a few weeks!
ANNOUNCEMENTS - The Week of February 25, 2024 (click here for the PDF version)
Here’s what’s happening at St. John’s, around the diocese, and in the local community.
Save the dates.
Our Lenten prayer service and discussion will meet on Fridays from 6-7 p.m. Watch for an email or check the website each week for a short reading for the discussion.
Dates to remember: Please note some dates and times are subject to change.
Fridays in Lent: Lenten prayer gathering at 6 p.m. On Zoom, each Friday during Lent.
March 10: The annual meeting follows the 10:30 am service. A light lunch will be served. Your attendance is required.
March 17: Bishop Carlye Hughes visits the congregation. She visits the congregation following the 10:30 a.m. service followed by a meeting with the vestry.
March 24: Palm Sunday (we may join the Presbyterian Church for breakfast. Stay tuned).
March 28: Maundy Thursday begins with a Simple Supper at 6 p.m. followed by the service at 7 p.m.
March 29: At Noon Stations of the Cross. The Good Friday service is at 7 p.m.
March 30: The Great Vigil of Easter at 8 p.m.
March 31: Easter Sunday choral Eucharist at 10:30 a.m.
Dear St. John’s,
I saw a Facebook “meme” this morning where one person asks, “What are you doing on Valentine’s Day?”
“Rubbing dirt on people’s faces and telling them they’re going to die,” the other replies.
The post pokes fun at the fact that this year Ash Wednesday, when we repent our sins and contemplate our mortality, falls on Valentine’s Day, when we celebrate love.
Ash Wednesday is a somber moment as we begin the season of Lent. The 40 days of Lent are a time for self-examination and repentance. We may fast – whether physically giving up things like alcohol or smoking or meat on Fridays or food entirely on certain days, or from things such as criticizing others or gossiping or participating in certain social media. We may commit to additional prayer time or Bible study or take on a new ministry or volunteer opportunity.
It’s a serious time, but that doesn’t mean we’re required to be miserable or berate ourselves for our shortcomings. Our actions should seek to enhance our self-awareness and our relationship with God. And they can be enjoyable!
For example, at St. John’s, we’ll host a one-hour Zoom prayer service and discussion each Friday night. Our neighboring Episcopal churches in Mountain Lakes and Denville are hosting a Wednesday night study of a brief book on the Lord’s Prayer to which all are invited. For an entertaining and education March Madness-style event about the Episcopal Church’s saints, check out Lent Madness at lentmadness.org.
I hope programs such as these can help you enter into a Holy Lent. We will begin our Lenten journey at St. John’s with a Eucharist and imposition of ashes on Wednesday, Feb. 14, at 8 p.m.
Dear St. John’s,
“Tikkun Olam” is a Hebrew phrase that means healing or repairing the world. According to an article by scholar Jonathan Krasner, “Many American Jews consider it a cornerstone of their Jewish identity, a key reason they’re committed to making the world a better place.”
As Christians, we also are called to be world healers. God called us in Genesis to be good stewards of Creation. And the Church’s mission, as described in the catechism in the back of our prayer book, is “to restore all people to unity with God and with each other in Christ.”
This work of repair and restoration could take many forms: praying for others; performing acts of kindness and mercy; taking steps to help achieve justice and peace among all people, as we promise in the baptismal covenant; picking up trash or recycling our waste or planting a garden; engaging with others we disagree with in respectful dialogue.
What can we each do this week as part of Tikkun Olam?
Dear St. John’s,
Lately, the church calendar has been filled with stories of call and conversion. In last week’s Gospel, Philip and Nathanael become Jesus’ disciples. Yesterday marked what is called the Confession of Saint Peter, when the disciple Peter proclaims that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. This Sunday, we will hear about Jesus’ invitation to fishermen Simon (Peter) and Andrew to follow him and become “fishers of people.” And Thursday will celebrate the conversion of St. Paul on the road to Damascus.
Jesus calls each of us to follow him. As happened with those early disciples, we each experience that call differently.
This Sunday, we will resume Bible study with a look at some of these biblical stories of call and talk about the disciples’ experiences and our own. How did we come to believe in Jesus? How is God calling us today?
I hope you will join us for this discussion. We’ll worship as usual at 10:30 a.m., when we will welcome three new young members through baptism. Then we’ll gather for coffee hour and begin Bible study about 11:45. I’m anxious to hear your stories!
Dear St. John’s,
Today is the 12th day of Christmas (cue the drummers drumming), which means that tomorrow is Epiphany or Three Kings Day. This is when we celebrate the arrival of wise men who followed a star to Bethlehem to see Jesus, “the child who has been born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2).
An “epiphany” is a manifestation – in this case, the first manifestation of Christ to the gentiles, or non-Jews. The season of Epiphany is filled with signs or manifestations of Jesus’ true nature, from his baptism, when a voice from heaven declares, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11), to Jesus’ first recorded miracle turning water into wine to his mountaintop transfiguration.
One fun tradition is to write a special Epiphany blessing on doorways. The blessing changes each year and follows a formula. This year, it is 20+C+M+B+24. The letters come from the traditional names for the wise men: Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. They also are an abbreviation for “Christus Mansionem Benedicat,” which means “May Christ bless this dwelling.”
So, consider taking a piece of chalk and creating a little “holy graffiti” at your house. Here’s a link to an article with more details about this ancient practice. https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/.../for-an-epiphany.../
P.S. – We’re keeping a close eye on the weather reports. The current plan is to hold church in person on Sunday for those who can safely make it. But if you are worried about travel conditions, please err on the side of safety and stay at home. There are plenty of worship opportunities available online!
If we feel we must cancel in-person worship for safety reasons, we will send out an email by 9 a.m. on Sunday and include a Zoom link so you can join me for worship led from my home.
Dear St. John’s,
Articles are posted by the Communication team, Rev. Sharon and others.