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)
Christmas greetings from Rev. Sharon
The wait is almost over!
The last hours of Advent and holiday preparations are slipping away. Some of us may already have the decorations hung and the presents wrapped. Many of us may still be rushing around making last-minute purchases, trimming the tree or baking Christmas cookies.
Wherever you are in your preparations, I urge you to pause for a few moments to appreciate the season and remember the joy of the Christmas miracle that underlies it: that somehow, against all logic, the creator of the universe loved us enough to come to earth to experience and share life on earth as a human being.
Take time to worship with us, whether in person or via Zoom on Christmas Eve or in person on Christmas Day. We’ll sing familiar carols, listen to stories, share holy food and enjoy each other’s company as we give thanks and celebrate the feast of Jesus’ incarnation.
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant! Come and behold him, born the king of angels! Come let us adore him, Christ the Lord!
Wishing all a merry and blessed Christmas! Our service times are listed below.
CHRISTMAS AND EPIPHANY SERVICES
A message from Rev. Sharon
Where am I going? What am I doing?
These sound like great, existential questions. Unfortunately, as we reach middle age and beyond, they all too often are very practical questions. How often do we walk into a room only to forget why we went there!
In our busy lives, it’s easy to forget things – including to pray, or to spend time in reflection during this season of Advent as we anticipate the glorious celebration of God’s incarnation in Jesus at Christmas.
Advent calendars are one tool people use to count down the days to Christmas – often with the bonus of a daily piece of chocolate or other treat. Online Advent calendars provide short daily messages to help us along our spiritual journey.
Here are some websites where you can sign up to receive a daily e-mailed Advent message to help you remember to observe this holy season of waiting. (And there’s nothing wrong with buying one of those chocolate-filled ones, for a sweet reminder of the season’s joys as well!).
https://adventword.org/en/home/ (daily meditations)
https://afedj.org/resources/advent/ (inspirational messages from the Holy Land)
https://gdcrecordings.com/musical-advent-calendar-sign-up/ (musical Advent calendar)
You also can visit this site for a daily Advent meditation with musical selections: https://soundboard.giamusic.com/audiocalendar-advent/
What are we waiting for?
This time of year, children are making wish lists and eagerly anticipating Santa’s arrival. College students are counting the days until finals end and winter break begins. Holiday shoppers may have waited for the Black Friday shopping bonanza, or be waiting for even better pre-Christmas sales.
On a deeper level, we’re all waiting for something more meaningful and lasting. We long for an end to hatred and violence; for a day when we no longer are bitterly divided along political lines; for everyone to have shelter and food and health care. We long for the lion to lie down with the lamb and God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
On Sunday, we begin the season of Advent, a time of holy waiting. We wait for the yearly celebration of the birth of Jesus – God come to live among us in human form. And we anticipate Jesus’ return, the day when all are united in the kin-dom of God.
Advent provides time to pause and reflect on the meaning of God’s arrival as one of us, and of what we can do to continue Jesus’ work of healing, peace, justice and service. We can find ways to share God’s love and joy with others, whether by praying for them or providing gifts for local families through our “giving tree” or feeding our neighbors at the Saturday luncheons or offering a smile and kind word to weary holiday sales clerks.
Taking time to reflect during this busy season brings peace to our souls. And spreading joy and love to others brings greater joy and love and meaning into our own lives. These are the gifts of Advent, as we await our God Incarnate.
Gratitude is in the air!
Articles are posted by the Communication team, Rev. Sharon and others.