Dear St. John’s,
I hope you all enjoyed Thanksgiving. It’s a good time to count our blessings and to give thanks to God for all that we have.
Often, gratitude is a matter of perspective. I once heard a story about a rich traveler who stopped at a monastery and asked if he could spend the night. By chance, a poor man did the same. The next morning, the monks asked how they had slept.
“Oh, it was terrible!” said the rich man. “The mattress and the blanket were thin, and the pillow was small. It was nothing like my big feather bed and thick quilts and fluffy pillow back home.”
The poor man, however, reported that he experienced a wonderful night’s sleep.
“Everything was so warm and comfortable,” he said. “I’m used to sleeping on the ground, with a stone for a pillow and only my coat the stars to cover me.”
Life presents many challenges. But even in difficult circumstances, we can learn to see the so-called silver lining.
That rich man might have given thanks for the monastery’s hospitality, even if it wasn’t as luxurious as he was used to at home. After all, if the monks hadn’t taken him in, he might have been sleeping on the ground under the stars himself.
An attitude of gratitude is healthy. It helps us to maintain a positive mindset and remain aware of God’s many blessings. It gives us hope.
Among my blessings, I give thanks for all of you and for the ministries of St. John’s. As we embark upon the holiday season, let us demonstrate our gratitude by continuing to find ways to serve our neighbors. This will bring even more blessings to be thankful for – for them and for us!
P.S. – Among the world’s blessings is the pause in the war in the Holy Land and the release of hostages. The following prayer is from the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.
A LITANY FOR THE RESTORATION OF PEACE IN THE HOLY LAND
Dear St. John’s,
We’ve experienced many losses in our church community this year. Parishioners and relatives have died. Our music director left. Some have faced health crises.
In recent years, St. John’s also said goodbye to beloved clergy members. The COVID pandemic changed how we work, attend school, vote and participate in church. We’ve seen ongoing gun violence and political strife in our country. And we’ve witnessed unrest and warfare across the world, including the current war in the Holy Land.
All of these can provoke grief within us. I don’t write this to depress you, but to acknowledge that we have reasons to mourn and that grief is a natural response to sad and traumatic events.
But grief is a journey, not a destination, and we do not have to travel it alone. Starting this Sunday, I invite you to join with others on this journey as we explore what the Bible and faith say about grief and how they can help us heal. We’ll meet at 11:45 a.m. in the parish hall after our 10:30 a.m. worship service.
Our discussion topics will be:
Nov. 19: What am I grieving? How do I express my sadness?
Dec. 3: I feel so angry. Is that normal? How do I handle it?
Dec. 17: How can I heal? Where does God fit into all of this?
All are welcome. Come to coffee hour and join us for the discussions, and invite others to join us as well.
Dear St. John’s,
I’m writing this week to update you about our music program. Starting this Sunday, Wyatt Sikora will accompany our worship services on the piano every other week. On the alternate weeks, Christian Carozza will play the organ.
Christian has been a familiar face at the organ bench for the last several months. On alternate weeks, he plays at St. John’s in Dover.
Wyatt has been our guest musician on two Sundays. A Boonton resident, he is a music teacher and graphic designer, mixed-media artist who also contributed to our Stations of the Cross exhibit last spring.
Please join me in welcoming them and making them feel at home at St. John’s as they work with the choir to provide music to enhance our worship.
Dear St. John’s,
This week, we celebrate All Saints’ Day. We remember giants of the faith, like Mary Magdalene and John the Evangelist, and the many people throughout history whose examples we’d like to emulate: Dame Julian of Norwich, John and Charles Wesley, Harriet Tubman, Oscar Romero.
It’s also a time to remember our personal saints. These are the people who made a difference in our lives and helped us grow in faith and love. It could be our grandmother or a beloved teacher or maybe the school crossing guard.
I encourage you to think about who has been a saint in your life, and to give thanks for them. If you can, join us in church on Sunday, when we will read the names and display photographs of some of these spiritual ancestors.
Let us take courage and inspiration from the saints, famous and not-so-famous and those known to God alone. For all form the communion of saints, who surround us as we strive to continue God’s work here on earth.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
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