It’s safe to say, most folks don’t greet the season of Lent with the same enthusiasm as Christmas or Easter or even Advent. But Lent needn’t be all gloom and doom. We can embrace it as a quiet time to reflect on our lives and our values and what God is calling us to do. It can be a time of discovery and learning. It even can be fun.
Really! Just check out lentmadness.org
A colleague of mine created Lent Madness about a decade ago as a fun way to teach people about the individuals on the Episcopal saints calendar, from the well-known to the obscure. He arranged them in competitive brackets – like the college basketball March Madness brackets.
Each day of the tournament, participants vote for their favorite saint based on biographies and other information about them posted on the website. Over the course of Lent, the competition heats up, saints advance, and the ultimate winner receives the coveted Golden Halo.
Anyone can participate. You can sign up on the website for e-mail reminders about when to vote, or just visit the website each day. If you forget to vote, there’s no penalty. The only sin is attempting to vote twice!
On a more serious note, St. John’s will be raising awareness, providing education and exploring the spiritual dimensions of the addiction crisis in this country. Please read the attachment to this email to learn more, and let me know if you would like to participate.
Save the dates!
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Turkey and Syria this week has killed more than 23,000 people and left millions in need of shelter. Our hearts ache at the scenes of destruction and the lives lost, and the knowledge that time is running out to find any more survivors.
How can we help?
As our bishop wrote to the clergy of this diocese, “While gathering goods to send to the area feels satisfying, with disasters of this magnitude financial support is critical and more helpful.”
One very effective place to donate funds is Episcopal Relief & Development. This agency of our church works with local partners on the ground to get immediate relief where it is needed after a disaster, and then to help with the short- and long-term recovery efforts afterward. You can donate to help the earthquake victims here:
We also can pray for all those affected by the earthquake. The bishop has asked our whole diocese to intentionally hold the victims, survivors, and recovery effort in prayer for the next six weeks.
Here is one prayer from the Episcopal Relief & Development website for times of disaster:
God, you are in the midst of those who suffer
May all affected by disasters feel your healing presence.
God, you are in the hands of those who reach out
Help responders in their courageous work.
God, you are in the hearts of those compassionate ones
Whose prayers cry out for their families
Whose prayers cry out for their neighbors
Whose prayers cry out even for strangers
Bless and comfort those who mourn.
God, you are in the still small voice,
The gentle whisper that follows
May our ears always hear
May our hearts always cry out for one another
May our hands always reach out to one another
And may we always walk like you walk
In solidarity with those who suffer
And so reflect your presence and comfort.
– Prayer adapted from Catholic Relief Services
A message from Rev. Sharon
Last fall, members of our congregation and the Boonton community recorded our hopes and dreams on a banner that now hangs in our parish hall. In November, we met with a member of the diocesan Visioning Team to delve a little deeper into our dreams for St. John’s. We discussed the strengths of our parish as well as our challenges and concerns; the ways we interact with the diocese; how we wish the diocese could support us; and our dreams for future ministry. This weekend, the St. John’s clergy and deputies will hear more about the diocesan visioning process and how that connects with our own ministries.
The process of discerning a vision for the future is an important and ongoing part of the Christian journey in our own lives, in the life of our parish, and in the life of our diocesan and the wider church. This is how we discover what God is calling us to do and how we plan to answer that call.
You can hear what our bishop says about the process now underway in our diocese here:
I’ve also attached the report from our listening session in November. I encourage everyone to read it. What do you agree with or disagree with? What would you add? These insights will help us as we plan for our future at St. John’s and how we will share God’s love with our community.
Articles are posted by the Communication team, Rev. Sharon and others.