St. John’s Episcopal Church
207 Albany Avenue, Kingston, NY 12401

The Good News of St. John’s

  1. March 27, 2021

    Holy Week at St. John’s

    As Christians, the story of Holy Week is of primary importance in understanding our relationship with God and one another because it prepares us for Easter and the Feast of the Resurrection.  The only other celebration to receive such emphasis in our tradition is Christmas.

    The balance of both narratives is vital to our Christian faith:  Christmas, or the Feast of the Incarnation, re-minds us of our deeply holy nature, knit together to be God’s own creation in the world.  While the Resurrection re-members us as a body, calling us into deeper relationship with one another, to share the Love that is Christ with the entire world, as the Body of Christ.

    The Paschal (Easter) Triduum is one continuous liturgy held over the course of 3 days whose purpose is to help us experience this deeply moving story of our faith in ways that inspire our hearts to continue to open to its truth – that violence is never the last word.  Love is.  God’s Love is always and forever the Christ who tramples death and raises us from our worldly graves and tombs of fear and hatred.

    Especially this year, after this time of great stress in our society and the devastation and grief caused by a global pandemic, our participation in this 3-day liturgy will be particularly meaningful.  As a community, we engage in a movement that begins with the theme of love and service, leads us through desolation and fear, until we finally arrive in the hope of God’s salvation.  This movement is so important for us to recall because it’s so easy to get lost in fear and anxiety.  This 3-part liturgy is designed to deepen our faith and strengthen us for our path.

    Maundy Thursday: April 1 at 6:00 pm.  We honor the last supper by focusing on the themes of service and love, ending with the Stripping of the Altar.

    The Watch in the Garden of Gethsemane is long-standing tradition at St. John’s where people are invited to keep vigil in the Garden along with Jesus in his last hours.  You can log on at any time after the end of the Maundy Thursday service up until 12:00 midnight to sit in contemplation.  Meditations are available where you find the Zoom links.

    Good Friday: April 2 at 1:00 pm.  We reflect on the devastation wrought in this world through human sin.

    The Great Vigil of Easter: April 3 at 8:00 pm.  We listen to the great stories of God’s salvation from scripture and awaken to the love that is Christ present in the world.

    Easter Sunday Festival Worship: April 4 at 10:00 am.  This year’s presider and preacher is the Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool.

    All services will be held over Zoom and broadcast onto Facebook.
    Go to: stjohnskingston.org/online-streaming-worship for the Zoom links.
    Rooms will open 20 minutes prior to worship.

    A note regarding bulletins:
    Those who signed-up for Holy Week Bags will have received a booklet for the Pascal Triduum, but will need to download the Sunday bulletins for both Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.
    For those who did NOT sign up for Holy Week Bags, separate bulletins will be available for download for each Triduum service on the website.

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    Returning and Gratitude

    Dear Ones:  I’m so humbled and grateful for your prayers, love, and support over the past few weeks while Ana and I “encountered” this death-dealing virus called covid.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Beautiful cards coming in the mail.  Food dropped off at our door.  Flowers and “get well” balloons arriving.  And all the prayers flooding us – both Ana and I could feel we were being prayed for.  Thank you, my beloved friends, from both of us.

    Ana has been home now a couple of days.  She was in the hospital a total of 10 days so her rehabilitation will be long as she gets used to using her muscles and joints again and rebuilds her endurance.  But we’re getting everything straightened out and, although it’s hard for her to see it sometimes, she really is getting better every day.

    I am getting better too, although my doctor yelled at me for doing laundry last week because she thought it was too strenuous.  Turns out she was right.  I get tired very easily… and that’s NOT an easy thing for me to admit to.  So, I’ve reduced my hours and my workload as I tend to both Ana and myself in our recovery.

    Thankfully, the Rev. Canon Jeanne Person, from the diocesan staff has agreed to be with us for Holy Week.  She will be preaching and presiding this Sunday for our Palm Sunday celebration.  As many of you know, I was on a diocesan staff before coming to St. John’s and it was always very meaningful when I could walk through Holy Week with one congregation.  So, I’m pleased to welcome Canon Jeanne to St. John’s to help us celebrate.  I know it means as much to her as it does to us that she is with us.

    I will be joining you all again in worship beginning on Maundy Thursday and will share preaching and presiding responsibilities with Canon Jeanne for the Pascal Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil).  And then we will have Bp. Mary Glasspool with us (via Zoom) for Easter Sunday.  What a gift!  And such loving support from our diocese as I recover from this horrible virus.

    Finally, I cannot thank our leadership enough for making sure things kept moving – Lynn Dennison and Claudette Ford, our Wardens… for everything.  Cathe Decker and Cathy Whittaker, who have been leading our weekday services.  The Rev. Alison Quin for preaching and presiding last week.  Terry Earles for being flexible and pastoral in his service to you all.  Laura Ricci, Cathe Decker and our Vestry members for leading in various ways. And, as always, Deacon Sue who jumped in the deep end to keep everyone connected and has pulled together a group of people to produce some truly beautiful Holy Week Bags!

    We will be getting back to “normal” (whatever that means in a pandemic) during the Easter Season as I slowly resume my duties.

    Again, thank you all so much for your prayers, your support, and your love.  Hope remains and Love is always the last word.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

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    Announcements for March 28, 2021

    The Clothing Shed is open again!  Yes, the clothing shed in our parking lot is open again.  Please let everyone know that they can drop off clothing and housewares (textiles only!).  Everything needs to be in a sealed bag and every bit helps to raise money for St. John’s.

    The Page Turners Book Club:  For April 6th we are reading “Apeirogon,” by Colum McCann. We meet at 7 pm, by Zoom, for about an hour. Contact Lynn Dennison for more information at: radennison@aol.com

    Holy Week Schedule of Services

    • Palm Sunday: March 28 at 10:00 am.  The Rev. Canon Jeanne Person preaching and presiding.
    • The Pascal Triduum – The Rev. Michelle Meech and the Rev. Canon Jeanne Person will share preaching and presiding duties for this 3-day liturgy.
      • Maundy Thursday: April 1 at 6:00 pm
                  “Vigil in Gethsemane” held online until 12:00 midnight
      • Good Friday: April 2 at 1:00 pm
      • The Great Vigil of Easter at 8:00 pm
    • Easter Sunday: April 4 at 10:00 am.  The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool preaching and presiding.  Rev. Michelle will be in attendance.

     

    Have an announcement for the bulletin?
    Please send by Wednesday at noon to
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.

  2. March 5, 2021

    The St. John’s Prayer Chain

    Being a member of a Prayer Chain is a sacred and life-giving ministry.  As Christians, we are all called to pray for one another and members of a Prayer Chain are those who keep prayers going when so many of us get distracted.  They keep us all connected to one another through a belief in prayer as that connection.  Intercessory prayer is an active response to the life of the community and is a reminder to us that God is the ground of our being.

    Different people use different bodily positions for prayer—always using what helps them to feel centered, whether that be kneeling or sitting, standing or walking.  Some light a candle or handle beads or wear a prayer shawl.  Because we’re often so distracted, some people find it helpful to focus their concentration before they begin to pray – perhaps closing their eyes or taking long, slow, deep breaths.

    But always, the most important thing about prayer is to begin with an orientation of gratitude.  Because it is to God we pray, our creator and the ground of our being, an orientation of gratitude brings us into a deeper awareness of the gift of life itself and, therefore, just how precious and mysterious we all are.

    So if you’d like to join the St. John’s Prayer Chain, please contact the Prayer Chain Moderator, Cathe Decker.  She will add you to the list of people who receive Prayer Chain requests.  You can email her at: stjohnsprayerchain9@gmail.com.

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    Tending Our Light

    Our weekly offering of goodness to help keep our spirits buoyed and our mental health on track through the darker months of winter.

    This is a repeat of the note from last week because, even though the vaccine is becoming more widely available, there is still a great deal of anxiety and “not knowing” as we start to look at the end of this time of confinement and restriction and fear.  Trusting our public spaces again is going to be challenging and we’re all still going through so much from the economic fallout personal losses.

    Support groups bring together individuals who are facing similar issues, whether that be an illness, relationship problem, or major life changes. Members of support groups often share their experiences and advice. It can be helpful just getting to talk with other people who are in the same situation.

    The Mental Health Association of Ulster County offers a variety of free support groups. These groups are free and open to everyone in the community. Currently we have a variety of open drop-in groups as well as Anger Management Classes, and Eating Disorder Support Groups.

    That’s not all!  The MHA has many other resources to support all of us including recovery and wellness services.  Please visit their site to learn more about all the programs the MHA has to offer.  Click here to learn more.

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    Downtime

    Dear Ones:  A post came across my Facebook feed from 5 years ago.  It was a picture of the front of the monthly St. John’s newsletter we used to have in which I wrote a short note to you all as I was packing up my things in Michigan so I could come and be your priest here at St. John’s.  In it, I spoke of the need for rest during transition.  When I read it I thought, “I’m wiser than I remember being!”  What a gift it’s been to read this again.

    First, just let me say that it’s hard to believe that it’s already been 5 years!  Thank you for calling me to be among you and lead us as a congregation.  I have learned so much from you all and look forward to finding out what God has in store for us in the coming years.

    Second, I’ve decided to follow my own advice and take some rest – a full week of downtime, a retreat of sorts.  The past two years have been an emotional rollercoaster for me – getting married to one of the most amazing people on the planet in October of 2018 and then my brother Marc dying of suicide just a few months later in February 2019.  The following summer Ana and I helped my mother move from her home of 30 years, I endured a truly spectacular case of poison ivy (I now know EXACTLY what that plant looks like!), and I had my gall bladder removed.  Then, as we all know, the pandemic hit us a year ago in March 2020 causing us to figure out new ways of being together and maintaining a sense of community.  And, now, my sweet dog Bella is in gradual decline and caring for her has become very physical.  In all of this, I’ve been aware of your care of and love for me – through prayers and notes and other small gifts of affection.  Thank you!

    The experience of being your priest has been one of gratitude and joy.  But leading a congregation is a lot of responsibility and has many emotional ups and downs as I celebrate and grieve with each of you.  I’ve been fortunate to have excellent people in leadership to assist in these years – Wardens, Vestry, Staff.   Really, I’m so grateful for you all.

    So, in all the things that I’ve needed to attend to, I’ve never actually afforded myself the time and space to grieve Marc’s death.  Now, I would be foolish to think that grief is something you can simply “take care of” in a week’s time.  Everyone’s grief has its own path and its own schedule.  But next week, I will devote my time and resources to the part of myself that just misses my brother – to give myself the space to reflect on who he was and who he continues to be in my heart, and to allow myself to really think about how his death has had an impact on my family.  And to find a way to begin to bring some closure, if possible, to all the feelings that arise when someone you love has died of suicide.

    So, I will be out of touch next week – from Monday, March 8 returning to work on Tuesday, March 16.  Aside from Wednesday Open Prayer and Friday Morning Bible Study, the full schedule of prayer and worship services will continue.  And if you need anything, please reach out to Deacon Sue, or one of our wardens – Lynn Dennison or Claudette Ford.

    I will appreciate your prayers this coming week, if you would.  But please do not email or text me with them.  I know God will be with me as I do this work.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

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    Announcements for March 7, 2021

    THIS SUNDAY!  Pastoral Care Meeting  Join us after communion at 12:30.  All are welcome.  Click here to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/768878535

    Do you have “candle cups?”  You know, the white plastic cups that hold our candles at Christmas Eve?  They were a part of the Advent Worship Boxes this year.  We’d love to make sure they make it back to the Altar Guild’s closet.  So, if you have one (or more!) bring them by the Rectory and leave them in the mailbox by the door.  Or, bring them with you when you pick up your Holy Week Bags later in March.

    The Clothing Shed is open again!  Yes, the clothing shed in our parking lot is open again.  Please let everyone know that they can drop off clothing and housewares (textiles only!).  Everything needs to be in a sealed bag and every bit helps to raise money for St. John’s.

    The Page Turners Book Club:  For April 6th we are reading “Apeirogon,” by Colum McCann. We meet at 7 pm, by Zoom, for about an hour. Contact Lynn Dennison for more information at: radennison@aol.com

    Holy Week Bags!  Yes, we’ve already begun to plan Holy Week.  If you would like to have a bag of worship items to help you celebrate Holy Week at home (including printed bulletins!), please use this link to fill out the form ASAP.  Be sure to sign up before Wednesday, March 24.  Holy Week Bags Sign-up – St. John’s Kingston

    Lenten Fun and Games: Lent Madness
    What?!  But Lent is supposed to be solemn and serious!  Well this year, we need a little levity and silliness.  So all the members of St. John’s are invited to participate in Lent Madness.  We start on Thursday, February 18 so sign up now and get ready: Lent Madness

    Have an announcement for the bulletin?
    Please send by Wednesday at noon to
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.

  3. February 25, 2021

    Vaccine Town Hall and Updates

    Those who have been following the news about the COVID-19 vaccine, know that a big issue has been one of supply.  There hasn’t been enough to meet the demand. The good news is that vaccine production has increased and the newest one, developed by Johnson & Johnson, is a one-dose version.  Many of you are aware that St. John’s has been trying to get a Vaccine Clinic to take place at our church for the past several weeks. Rev. Michelle is working with an independent pharmacist who reached out to various houses of faith in Ulster County.  We hope to announce a scheduled clinic sometime in March so pay attention to your emails.

    In the meantime, please offer prayers for those who are in need of the vaccine but, because of lack of access to the internet or the skill to use a computer, are unable to obtain an appointment.  As with so many things in our society, the distribution of the vaccine is occurring in an inequitable way, the most vulnerable being communities of color.

    You’re encouraged to participate in a “town hall” meeting with the people of WMCHealth. In partnership with the Kingston Interfaith Council, WMCHealth is offering a COVID-19 Vaccine Community Conversation on Wednesday, March 3 from 7:30-8:30 pm via Zoom to increase awareness and answer questions from the community. Speakers include Jane Ulrich, Senior Director of Nursing, HealthAlliance Hospitals, Marc Tack, MD, Director of Infectious Diseases, Health Alliance Hospitals, and Mecca Mitchell, Senior Vice President Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement, WMCHealth.

    Click this link to join the Zoom Community Conversation on Wed, March 3 at 7:30 pm.

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    Tending Our Light

    Our weekly offering of goodness to help keep our spirits buoyed and our mental health on track through the darker months of winter.

    Support groups bring together individuals who are facing similar issues, whether that be an illness, relationship problem, or major life changes. Members of support groups often share their experiences and advice. It can be helpful just getting to talk with other people who are in the same situation.

    The Mental Health Association of Ulster County offers a variety of free support groups. These groups are free and open to everyone in the community. Currently we have a variety of open drop-in groups as well as Anger Management Classes, and Eating Disorder Support Groups.

    That’s not all!  The MHA has many other resources to support all of us including recovery and wellness services.  Please visit their site to learn more about all the programs the MHA has to offer.  Click here to learn more.

    ________________________________________________________________________

    Sowing Hope

    Dear Ones:  I know that so many of you followed along when I posted photo updates about our garden on Facebook and Instagram last year.  I often started with the phrase “Today in the Rectory Garden…”  I found it to be such a joyful practice to share these updates with everyone.

    The garden became a true haven and space of daily retreat for me last year when the pandemic kept us all locked in place over the spring and summer.  I began to realize how a garden can be such a radical act of hope in the midst of a despairing and difficult situation.  Because to sow a seed, to take the time and effort to put soil in a pot, place a seed in its nurturing womb, and  then water it and keep it in the light… all of this is to expect that something will arise.  Sowing a seed is an endeavor that reveals our hope.  An act that anticipates gratitude and beauty and awe.

    Ana and I sowed snapdragon seeds this past week.  And next week, we’re starting on tomatoes and peppers.  Every week, a new set of seeds.  A new act of hope.

    The prospect of planting seeds can be intimidating to some.  It was to me last year.  But I invite you to consider joining me this year.  There is still plenty of time to get seeds started and not all have to be sown indoors in our climate.  Regardless of what kind of plant it is, the bursting forth of a sprout from a seed is a profound expression of God’s abundant love for us.  So, to be the one to plant that seed is to offer evidence of one’s belief that the God of Life’s promise continues, even in difficult times.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

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    Announcements for February 28, 2021

    The Clothing Shed is open again!  Yes, the clothing shed in our parking lot is open again.  Please let everyone know that they can drop off clothing and housewares (textiles only!).  Everything needs to be in a sealed bag and every bit helps to raise money for St. John’s.

    COVID 19 Vaccine Town Hall – Join in an online community conversation with experts from the Westchester Medical Center to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine.  Wednesday, March 3 at 7:30 pm.  Sponsored by the Kingston Interfaith Council.  Click here to join: https://zoom.us/j/92916164426?pwd=Nm13UTJPbSt2T0FvVEJhcGZYZ1pMdz09 (Password: Sxx12Y) or call in: 646-558-8656 (Meeting ID: 929 1616 4426)

    Lenten Fun and Games: Lent Madness
    This year, we need a little levity and silliness.  So all the members of St. John’s are invited to participate in Lent Madness.  Each day during Lent, two saints are pitted against one another in a contest for YOUR vote.  The winning saint goes on to the next round of competition until one saint emerges at the end of the season wearing the Golden Halo.  To vote, go to: Lent Madness.  You can sign up to receive daily emails or go visit the website each day.  Join in and have some fun with thousands of other Episcopalians across the country.

    The Page Turners Book Club:  For March 2nd, the Page Turners are reading “Hamnet,” by Maggie O’Farrell. For April 6th we are reading “Apeirogon,” by Colum McCann. We meet at 7 pm, by Zoom, for about an hour. Contact Lynn Dennison for more information at: radennison@aol.com

    The St. John’s Prayer Chain is a group of St. John’s members who are committed to intercessory prayer as a spiritual practice.  While we, as a community, often pray publicly for one another in our worship services, the Prayer Chain prays for those who wish to remain confidential.  Should you desire prayer – in times of stress or times of celebration, send a note to the St. John’s Prayer Chain and this group will pray earnestly for you.  Cathe Decker is the current Prayer Chain Moderator.  To join the Prayer Chain or to ask for prayers, contact Cathe at: stjohnsprayerchain9@gmail.com.

    Holy Week Bags!  Yes, we’ve already begun to plan Holy Week.  If you would like to have a bag of worship items to help you celebrate Holy Week at home (including printed bulletins!), please use this link to fill out the form ASAP.  Be sure to sign up before Wednesday, March 24.  Holy Week Bags Sign-up – St. John’s Kingston

    Forward Day by Day:  If you would like a Forward Day by Day – scripture and reflection for the months of February, March, and April – please contact Rev. Michelle either by phone or email and we’ll get one out to you!

    Have an announcement?
    Please send by Wednesday at noon to 
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.

  4. February 18, 2021

    Lent Madness!

    Because this past year has been one of great challenge and difficulty, we are individually and collectively carrying quite a bit of anxiety, worry, guilt, and grief.  So, our Lenten practices this year will be focused less on fasting or personal development and more on the invitation to lighten our load.

    And one of the best ways to do that – having fun together.

    Today was the first day of Lent Madness – a game sponsored by Forward Movement in which the saints of the Christian Church are pitted against one another – one pair a day – with the winner moving forward to the next round in a single-elimination tournament until one saint is crowned with the Golden Halo at the end of Lent.

    Yesterday, for example, we saw Camillus de Lellis go up against Matthias.  Camillus ended up trouncing Matthias for some reason:
    Camillus de Lellis lived in the late 1550’s and spent the first part of his life as a “scoundrel” until a leg wound caused him to begin rethinking his life and he started on a spiritual path and spent the better part of the rest of his life in service to others.
    Matthias, on the other hand, is someone we don’t know too much about.  As the story goes, he was chosen to be one of the disciples after the death of Judas so that the number of disciples could remain 12.  This is detailed in Acts 1:26.

    So, who would you choose in today’s match-up between between Miguel Pro and Constantine?  Or next Wednesday’s between Joan of Arc and Catherine Booth?

    Sign up for emails here so you don’t miss a vote and stay tuned for fun Lent Madness update videos on our Facebook Page!

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    Tending Our Light

    Our weekly offering of goodness to help keep our spirits buoyed and our mental health on track through the darker months of winter.

    Having trouble sleeping?  Trouble calming your mind?  Reducing anxiety?  Here’s a wonderful tool for you and, appropriately enough, it’s called: Calm.

    Calm is a website or, if you have a smartphone you can download the ‘app.’  And it’s available in both a free format or as a membership.  You can listen to calming stories or meditative music or sounds.  Or you can read helpful blogposts.  Or engage with a guided meditation. Even the message when you open it is an invitation to relax: Take a deep breath.

    Click here to explore this tool.

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    Everyday Sabbath

    Dear Ones:  Today is another reflection on the book Sacred Rest by Saundra Dalton-Smith.   She says, “Healing occurs when we allows ourselves the time, space, and grace to be in the presence of God in the middle of our busy lives.” (pg. 28)

    I think this is the heart of this book and, really, the intention of Sabbath. To remove ourselves from the work of the day as well as from the typical patterns of thought and emotional traps and ground ourselves in God’s presence – which is already there waiting for our return.  This Sabbath time gives us the space to free ourselves from our own addictions and indulgences to re-mind ourselves of the truth of who we are – Beloved Children of God.

    It’s a very difficult thing, I find.  I used to think that priests must lead a very God-centered life but what I have found is that God can so easily become a concept or a task because “church” is not the same thing as God.  When it’s at its best, our lives in the church become a place for us in which it is safe to make mistakes, where we can be forgiven and try again because the Gospel actually means something to the members of our community.  But, unfortunately, church can become such a place of busyness that we actually lose Sabbath.  For me, that’s a balance I’m always needing to remind myself of.  God is not my business/busyness.  God is the ground of my being.

    This passage from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians is similar: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thes 5:16).  Paul’s instruction is not about uttering prayers all the time, another way for us to keep busy.  Rather, it’s encouragement to steadily move more deeply into a spiritual practice of re-centering ourselves in God over and over and over again – to pray without ceasing.  To constantly seek the space of Sabbath throughout the busyness of the day.

    It’s why Muslims pray 5 times a day.  They aren’t the only ones, of course.  We know from our own Book of Common Prayer that we have a schedule of daily prayers that offer us the “time, space, and grace” to rest in God’s presence – Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline.  Daily prayer, like any spiritual practice, can be a path that gives us this Sabbath.

    May we all find practices that support a Sabbath for us this Lent.  If you’d like some direction with that, please reach out to me and we’ll explore some possibilities together.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

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    Announcements for February 21, 2021

    Lenten Fun and Games: Lent Madness

    This year, we need a little levity and silliness.  So all the members of St. John’s are invited to participate in Lent Madness.  We start on Thursday, February 18 so sign up now and get ready!  What is Lent Madness? (yes, like March Madness) Lent Madness has a straightforward format: 32 saints are placed into a tournament-like single elimination bracket. Each pairing remains open for a set period of time and people vote for their favorite saint. 16 saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the coveted Golden Halo. The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks. How do I play? Sign up to receive a daily email or follow the Lent Madness page on Facebook.  Each day you’ll be encouraged to vote in a match-up of one saint versus another.  Rev. Michelle will be following the Lent Madness posts, tracking on a poster-sized scorecard, and offering regular commentary via Facebook Live.  Here’s where you can learn more and sign up to participate: Lent Madness

    The Clothing Shed is open again!  Yes, the clothing shed in our parking lot is open again.  Please let everyone know that they can drop off clothing and housewares (textiles only!).  Everything needs to be in a sealed bag and every bit helps to raise money for St. John’s.

    The Page Turners Book Club:  For March 2nd, the Page Turners are reading “Hamnet,” by Maggie O’Farrell. For April 6th we are reading “Apeirogon,” by Colum McCann. We meet at 7 pm, by Zoom, for about an hour. Contact Lynn Dennison for more information at: radennison@aol.com

    The St. John’s Prayer Chain is a group of St. John’s members who are committed to intercessory prayer as a spiritual practice.  While we, as a community, often pray publicly for one another in our worship services, the Prayer Chain prays for those who wish to remain confidential.  Should you desire prayer – in times of stress or times of celebration, send a note to the St. John’s Prayer Chain and this group will pray earnestly for you.  Cathe Decker is the current Prayer Chain Moderator.  To join the Prayer Chain or to ask for prayers, contact Cathe at: stjohnsprayerchain9@gmail.com.

    Friday Bible Study  We’ve moved from our study of the creation story in Genesis to a study of Jesus’ miracles.  Come on Friday mornings at 9:00 am, bring your coffee, and join a group committed to delving deep into scripture.  We ask the hard questions as we uncover how scripture speaks to our lives today.  Every Friday morning at 9:00 am via Zoom.  Email Rev. Michelle for more information or just join us via the Zoom link found here: Online Streaming Worship – St. John’s Kingston

    Forward Day by Day:  If you would like a Forward Day by Day – scripture and reflection for the months of February, March, and April – please contact Rev. Michelle either by phone or email and we’ll get one out to you!

    Have an announcement?
    Please send by Wednesday at noon to 
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.

  5. February 11, 2021

    The Season of Lent: Lenten Practices at St. John’s

    “Come, come whoever you are. Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come.    – Jalaluddin Rumi (13th century Persian mystic and poet)

    The season of Lent is our time, as Christians, to return; to practice and reflect on the ways in which we have strayed a bit from living fully into God’s Love.  We begin with Ash Wednesday as we are invited to the observance of a holy Lent and to rend our hearts, beginning the spiritual work of unburdening ourselves from the concerns we carry and that keep us from love.  Lent begins on Wednesday, February 17 and ends with our celebration of Easter in early April. 

    Because this past year has been one of great challenge and difficulty, we are individually and collectively carrying quite a bit of anxiety, worry, guilt, and grief.  This reminds us that it’s not always personal mistakes or “sin” that get in the way of God’s Love, but sometimes it’s simply the pain of being in the world during very difficult times or in very difficult situations.  So, our Lenten practices this year will be focused less on fasting or personal development and more on the invitation to lighten our load.

    Ash Wednesday Services:  We will have our Ash Wednesday prayer services over Zoom at 12:15 pm and 7:00 pm.  Due to the pandemic, there will be no imposition or distribution of ashes so that we can focus on the intent of this holy day which is the invitation to a holy Lent by bringing all that is on our hearts to God.  Click here for the bulletin and the link.

    Ash Wednesday Prayer Fire:  This year, for our community outreach, instead of Ashes-to-Go, we will offer a Prayer Fire on the front lawn of St. John’s from 4:00 – 6:30 pm.  Those who desire, may stop for a few moments and offer up to God the burdens they are carrying on their heart.  Rev. Michelle will be present to hold the space of prayer and tend to the fire.  All are welcome.

    Lenten Worship: Our Lenten worship is always marked by a sense of solemnity as we remove “Alleluias” from our worship and the addition of silence to allow for reflection and contemplation.  It’s challenging sometimes to allow for silence, especially over Zoom, but you’ll notice a significant effort to support silent prayer and reflection with more space between each element of our worship.

    Lenten Questions:  To support the practice of silence, we will shift our focus after worship and offer a quieter space. For the season of Lent, instead of “virtual coffee hour,” we will have a light-hearted Lenten Reflection Question each week to practice listening deeply and giving space for all to participate.

    Lenten Fun and Games: We have always enjoyed coming together for St. John’s Game Night during the winter.  In lieu of this, we’re inviting everyone to join in a season-long game called Lent Madness.  Each day during Lent, two saints of the church “face off” in a competition for our vote.  We learn the stories of these saints and cast our vote, along with others across the country, until one saint wins the “Golden Halo.”  Each week, Rev. Michelle will offer a video recap with special guest commentators.  In order to receive emails and be able to vote, visit the Lent Madness website here.

    Questions?  Please contact Rev. Michelle at michelle.stjohnskingston@gmail.com

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Tending Our Light

    Our weekly offering of goodness to help keep our spirits buoyed and our mental health on track through the darker months of winter.

    One way of tending to our own light is to spend time listening to how young people are learning to tend to their own light.

    Grace Year is a program supported and developed by Grace Episcopal Church in Millbrook, NY in which students at Vassar are invited to spend a year away from their studies to learn while living in intentional community with other young people and serving in various social or justice programs in the region.  One of our regular supply priests, the Rev. Alison Quin, works with these young people as their program director.  And, this year, we have a Grace Year fellow named Dardan Ukaj doing his service work with Angel Food East while he also develops a communications plan for St. John’s.

    All of the fellows are doing a fundraiser for Grace Year this coming Sunday – a Valentine’s Day Concert.  And you’re invited!  Of course, we cannot be in the same physical space so this concert will be held over Zoom.  Join us on Sunday, February 14 from 7:00-8:00 for this concert to benefit this wonderful program.  Click here for tickets.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Vacations, Retreats, and Rest

    Dear Ones:  A few weeks ago, I wrote to you that I was reading a new book called Sacred Rest.  I’ve been reading through the first couple of chapters and Dr. Dalton-Smith has a list of rest solutions that do not work.  I was surprised to see that “vacations” are on the list of things that do not provide the rest we think they do.

    But when I think about it, I realize the truth of this.  Often times, vacations require a lot from us – making arrangements, getting from one place to another, packing, unpacking, being in an unfamiliar space.  This is especially true when we’re visiting family.

    Still, there is something to be said for being away from our day-to-day lives and removing the typical responsibilities we carry.  We know from scripture that Jesus would spend time away from the disciples to be in prayer, for example.  While being on retreat is not the same thing as being on vacation, what is true is that being “away” enables us to gain some perspective.  It quiets the noise of our lives and provides some sense of rest from what can bring us anxiety in our daily lives, helping us to approach our lives with more gratitude and focus.

    But in the midst of this pandemic, especially during the winter months, this is extremely challenging.  Sometimes, I realize that I’m so focused on what life will be like “when this is all over,” imagining where I’ll be able to go that I cannot go now, that I’m not paying attention to what’s happening right in front of me.  But I also have to acknowledge just how difficult all this is.  We have coping mechanisms for a reason, because there are times (like these) in which we find ourselves using them, even despite our best efforts not too.

    So, perhaps the most important thing I’m coming to, as I reflect on rest, is an invitation to rest from self-judgment.  Not always easy.  But let us begin our journey into Lent with as much compassion for ourselves as we can.  Only then can we truly offer compassion to others.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for February 14, 2021

    Lenten Fun and Games: Lent Madness
    This year, we need a little levity and silliness.  So all the members of St. John’s are invited to participate in Lent Madness.  We start on Thursday, February 18 so sign up now and get ready!  What is Lent Madness? (yes, like March Madness) Lent Madness has a straightforward format: 32 saints are placed into a tournament-like single elimination bracket. Each pairing remains open for a set period of time and people vote for their favorite saint. 16 saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the coveted Golden Halo. The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks. How do I play? Sign up to receive a daily email or follow the Lent Madness page on Facebook.  Each day you’ll be encouraged to vote in a match-up of one saint versus another.  Rev. Michelle will be following the Lent Madness posts, tracking on a poster-sized scorecard, and offering regular commentary via Facebook Live.  Here’s where you can learn more and sign up to participate: Lent Madness

    Ash Wednesday: February 17
    Ash Wednesday Services via Zoom at 12:15 pm and 7:00 pm.  Look for link and bulletin here: Online Streaming Worship – St. John’s Kingston.  There will be no imposition or distribution of ashes due to the pandemic.

    Prayer Fire: Rend your heart – 4:00-6:30 pm
    As we begin our Lenten season, come to our Prayer Fire and rend your heart.  All are invited to come and stay for a few moments at our Prayer Fire and offer to God the burdens lying on your heart.  Park along the street or in the driveway near the front lawn.  Please wear a mask and keep your 6 ft. distance from others.  Rev. Michelle will be present between 4:00-6:30 pm tending the fire and praying along with all those who come.

     

    Clothing Shed is open again!  Yes, the clothing shed in our parking lot is open again.  Please let everyone know that they can drop off clothing and housewares (textiles only!).  Everything needs to be in a sealed bag and every bit helps to raise money for St. John’s.

    Friday Bible Study  We’ve moved from our study of the creation story in Genesis to a study of Jesus’ miracles.  Come on Friday mornings at 9:00 am, bring your coffee, and join a group committed to delving deep into scripture.  We ask the hard questions as we uncover how scripture speaks to our lives today.  Every Friday morning at 9:00 am via Zoom.  Email Rev. Michelle for more information or just join us via the Zoom link found here: Online Streaming Worship – St. John’s Kingston

    The Page Turners meets on the first Tuesday of every month.  The book for March 2 is “Hamnet,” by Maggie O’Farrell.  Speak to Lynn Dennison for more information.  All are welcome!

    Forward Day by Day:  If you would like a Forward Day by Day – scripture and reflection for the months of February, March, and April – please contact Rev. Michelle either by phone or email and we’ll get one out to you!

     

    Have an announcement?
    Please send by Wednesday at noon to 
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.

  6. February 4, 2021

    Wednesday Mornings with Terry

    Each Wednesday morning, you’ll find our Director of Music Terry Earles in the St. John’s sanctuary, readying himself for Wednesday Mornings with Terry.  A program brought on by the desire to help the St. John’s community connected during the pandemic, Wednesday Mornings with Terry is a delightful 30-minute program of music and commentary beginning at 10:00 am.

    Terry brings our 100+ year-old Estey organ to life with hymns, sacred works, and other pieces of music all the while offering us knowledge about how music is used for church practice and insight into how this music prepares us spiritually for worship.  And to honor those who may need additional prayers, Terry will dedicate his programs in their name.

    He’s always looking for requests too!  So please send him an email at terryearles@aol.com to offer suggestions, ask questions, or make requests.  And then join us for a lovely mid-week interlude at 10:00 am on Wednesdays.  Just go to Online Streaming Worship – St. John’s Kingston and click on the appropriate link to join us in the Zoom room.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Tending Our Light

    Our weekly offering of goodness to help keep our spirits buoyed and our mental health on track through the darker months of winter.

    As we look forward to learning more about the lives of Christian saints through Lent Madness this year, perhaps this is a good time to turn to one of them for an uplifting gift – cookies.

    And not just any cookies, but “Cookies of Joy.”  This recipe comes to us from St. Hildegard of Bingen, a mystic, composer, philosopher, healer, and poet from 12th century Germany.  You can learn more about her here.  And listen to some of her music here.

    Hildegard wrote this recipe over 900 years ago and instructed people to take them “at regular intervals to increase joy and positivity.”  How can you go wrong with that?

    Click here for the recipe of these spice cookies.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Increasing Light

    Dear Ones:  This week marks several things on our calendars – the Christian feast of St. Brigid on February 1, and the confluence of Candlemas, the Feast of the Presentation, and Groundhog Day (of course!) on February 2.  All of these tell us there is a shift in our earthly movement – the halfway point between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  The light is increasing.

    Each year, I look forward to this mid-way point because it signifies that spring is on its way.  And this year, Ana and I will begin our second year of sowing seeds as we prepare for spring’s thaw.  We’ve got quite a list!  But first up is snapdragons, perhaps the tiniest seeds we have. We tried to sow them last year but they didn’t do very well and we ended up with only a couple of plants.  This year, we’re starting a little earlier and using better lighting.  And we’ll see how it goes this time.

    And I believe that’s what the increasing light reminds me of – the human capacity to keep trying, to keep hoping.  Spring is always going to come, another chance to try again.  Another possibility for snapdragons.

    Let’s see what happens.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for February 7, 2021

    Ash Wednesday: February 17
    St. John’s will hold Ash Wednesday Services via Zoom at 12:15 pm and 7:00 pm.  Look for links here: Online Streaming Worship – St. John’s Kingston.  There will be no imposition or distribution of ashes due to the pandemic.  In place of our Ashes to Go service, this year we will be offering a Prayer Fire on the front lawn of St. John’s from 4:00-6:30 pm for the members of St. John’s, as well as the larger community.  People will be invited to write down the prayers, which are laying on their own hearts, on a paper heart.  And then offer it to the fire as an invitation to begin a Lenten practice of letting go.  More information is coming so stay tuned.

    Epiphany House Blessings!  Each year Rev. Michelle makes the rounds to offer a blessing upon your home and will gladly do so this year, although she cannot stay for a visit.  You can sign up for a House Blessing visit from Rev. Michelle or download simple instructions on how to bless your own home.  Epiphanytide House Blessings – St. John’s Kingston

    Clothing Shed is open again!  Yes, the clothing shed in our parking lot is open again.  Please let everyone know that they can drop off clothing and housewares (textiles only!).  Everything needs to be in a sealed bag and every bit helps to raise money for St. John’s.

    Friday Bible Study  We’ve moved from our study of the creation story in Genesis to a study of Jesus’ miracles.  Come on Friday mornings at 9:00 am, bring your coffee, and join a group committed to delving deep into scripture.  We ask the hard questions as we uncover how scripture speaks to our lives today.  Every Friday morning at 9:00 am via Zoom.  Email Rev. Michelle for more information or just join us via the Zoom link found here: Online Streaming Worship – St. John’s Kingston

    The Page Turners meets on the first Tuesday of every month.  The book for March 2 is “Hamnet,” by Maggie O’Farrell.  Speak to Lynn Dennison for more information.  All are welcome!

    Forward Day by Day:  If you would like a Forward Day by Day – scripture and reflection for the months of February, March, and April – please contact Rev. Michelle either by phone or email and we’ll get one out to you!

    Lenten Fun and Games: Lent Madness  What?!  But Lent is supposed to be solemn and serious!  Well this year, we need a little levity and silliness.  So all the members of St. John’s are invited to participate in Lent Madness.  We start on Thursday, February 18 so sign up now and get ready!  What is Lent Madness? (yes, like March Madness) In seeking a fun, engaging way for people to learn about the men and women comprising the Church’s Calendar of Saints, the Rev. Tim Schenck came up with this unique Lenten devotion. Now put together by two church-geeky guys (Tim and his friend Scott Gunn), Lent Madness has a straightforward format: 32 saints are placed into a tournament-like single elimination bracket. Each pairing remains open for a set period of time and people vote for their favorite saint. 16 saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the coveted Golden Halo. The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move into the area of saintly kitsch.  How do I play?  Sign up to receive a daily email or follow the Lent Madness page on Facebook.  Each day you’ll be encouraged to vote in a match-up of one saint versus another.  Rev. Michelle will be following the Lent Madness posts, tracking on a poster-sized scorecard, and offering regular commentary via Facebook Live.  Here’s where you can learn more and sign up to participate: Lent Madness

    Ministry Opportunities

    Children’s New Book Drive: Family of Woodstock is in need of books for children who are in or are leaving shelters.  If you are coming to in-person church, please consider bringing a new children’s book (all ages).  Or send a donation to the church (207 Albany Ave) and we will do the shopping.  Questions? Contact Outreach Coordinator Elaine (845-532-6585) or Deacon Sue (845-331-5575).

    Have an announcement?
    Please send by Wednesday at noon to 
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.

  7. January 28, 2021

    St. John’s Annual Meeting: What you need to know

    The St. John’s Annual Meeting is scheduled for THIS SUNDAY, January 31.  A time to focus on the ministry of St. John’s and reflect on our mission.

    Obviously, we cannot meet in person but we have a plan that allows space for us to reflect on our ministry and mission this past year, learn about ways to be engaged in the coming year, and have the opportunity to speak with the leadership and ask questions.  Here is what you need to know:

    1. Date and Time: The Annual Meeting will be combined with worship.  So we will begin at 10:00 am on Sunday, January 31.  Please be a few minutes early so that we are all assembled in time for the Clerk to take attendance.  Believe it or not, many congregations combine their Annual Meeting with worship so this is not all that unusual.
    2. Length: Please be prepared for our Annual Meeting/Worship to last around 90 minutes.
    3. Content: Refer to the worship bulletin that will be posted on the St. John’s website by Saturday morning here: Online Streaming Worship – St. John’s Kingston
    4. Brunch: Please prepare, for your household, a delicious brunch (so we don’t miss out on this tradition) and we’ll eat together at the beginning of worship, similar to our Easter celebration last year.
    5. Annual Report: A PDF has been emailed to the members of St. John’s.  It is also posted on our website here: Online Streaming Worship – St. John’s Kingston
    6. Election of Vestry: Most years, the members of Vestry have been elected by the Clerk casting one ballot (with all the candidates on it) on behalf of the congregation.  This year, to allow for nominations from the floor, the “Ballot Box” will be opened at the beginning of worship (rather than at the end) and the named Clerk will be available to take nominations via Zoom chat during the meeting.  After at least an hour, the Clerk will be asked if there have been any nominations and we will move forward with the election.
    7. Communion: The sacrament of Communion will not be offered after worship that day.
    8. Vestry Meeting: The newly-elected Vestry will meet immediately after the Annual Meeting to complete some necessary business.

    If you have any questions about this year’s Annual Meeting, please reach out to our Wardens, Lynn Dennison (radennison@aol.com) and Claudette Ford (crford1@gmail.com), or our Rector, Rev. Michelle (michelle.stjohnskingston@gmail.com).

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Tending Our Light

    Our weekly offering of goodness to help keep our spirits buoyed and our mental health on track through the darker months of winter.

    Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest in the Roman Catholic tradition.  He has written several volumes on spirituality and speaks regularly.  Several years ago, he started an organization called the Center for Action and Contemplation where people can come to learn the necessary connection between prayer and justice work in the world.  You can learn more about this place here: Center for Action and Contemplation (cac.org)

    Richard is offering free daily mediations for anyone who signs up to receive them and I commend them to you.  Here’s what he says:
    “We are living through a period of global disorder. People around the world are experiencing tremendous suffering, uncertainty, and disruption to their lives. Reality is being unveiled— systems of evil and injustice are being seen in greater clarity, and our collective “normal” has been radically upended. Walking through this chaos and despair can be difficult; but, ultimately, it is when everything seems adrift that the spiritual journey becomes both an anchor and a sail. God uses tragedy, suffering, pain—and even death to guide us into greater Love.”

    To learn more and to sign up to receive his daily meditations, click here.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Rest

    Dear Ones:  I attended an online workshop this week on Sabbath.  I thought it was a good time to be reminded of God’s commandment to rest.  The beginning of the year and be a very busy, even in the midst of a pandemic.  And, I think, because of the pandemic, we might be finding it difficult to get real rest.  So I was thankful for the suggestion of a new book called Sacred Rest by Saundra Dalton-Smith.  She’s a medical doctor who knows how important rest is for our bodies.  But she’s not talking about sleep because she says sleep is not rest.  I have come to learn the deep truth of this.

    In Sacred Rest, Dr. Dalton-Smith talks about 7 types of rest.

    1. Physical rest – time to still our body
    2. Mental rest – space to quiet our mind
    3. Emotional rest – courage to attend to our full emotional life
    4. Spiritual rest – contemplation on things greater than ourselves
    5. Social rest – prioritizing time with friends and others with whom you can relax
    6. Sensory rest – removing sensory input, including unplugging our phones for 30-60 minutes per day
    7. Creative rest – venues that offer opportunities to take in beauty and inspiration

    I find that what Dr. Dalton-Smith is really talking about is Sabbath.  True rest is not simply a matter of getting better sleep, but it is something that requires us to attend to the deeper needs of our souls.  You can learn more about the Seven Types of Rest here: Saundra Dalton-Smith: The real reason why we are tired and what to do about it | TED Talk .  I’ll be reading Sacred Rest and using this as a basis for my Lenten practice this year.  So, you can look forward to more posts about God’s commandment of Sabbath.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for January 31, 2021

    Epiphany House Blessings!  Each year Rev. Michelle makes the rounds to offer a blessing upon your home and will gladly do so this year, although she cannot stay for a visit.  You can sign up for a House Blessing visit from Rev. Michelle or download simple instructions on how to bless your own home.  Epiphanytide House Blessings – St. John’s Kingston

    The Page Turners book for February 2nd is “Braiding Sweetgrass,” by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  The book for March 2 is “Hamnet,” by Maggie O’Farrell.  Speak to Lynn Dennison for more information.  All are welcome!

    Ministry Opportunities

    Children’s New Book Drive: Family of Woodstock is in need of books for children who are in or are leaving shelters.  If you are coming to in-person church, please consider bringing a new children’s book (all ages).  Or send a donation to the church (207 Albany Ave) and we will do the shopping.  Questions? Contact Outreach Coordinator Elaine (845-532-6585) or Deacon Sue (845-331-5575).

    Have an announcement?
    Please send by Wednesday at noon to 
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.

  8. January 21, 2021

    St. John’s Annual Meeting: What you need to know

    Come one, come all! The St. John’s Annual Meeting is scheduled for January 31.  A time to focus on the ministry of St. John’s and reflect on our mission.

    Obviously, we cannot meet in person which is a disappointment because we always put on quite a brunch spread and we do enjoy being together.  However, the officers have been working on a plan that allows space for us to reflect on our ministry and mission this past year, learn about ways to be engaged in the coming year, and have the opportunity to speak with the leadership and ask questions.  Here is what you need to know:

    1. Date and Time: The Annual Meeting will be combined with worship.  So we will begin at 10:00 am on Sunday, January 31.  Please be a few minutes early so that we are all assembled in time for the Clerk to take attendance.  Believe it or not, many congregations combine their Annual Meeting with worship so this is not all that unusual.
    2. Length: Please be prepared for our Annual Meeting/Worship to last around 90 minutes.
    3. Content (in no particular order because the details are still being worked out): Scripture readings, prayer, music, brief reports from ministry leaders, Rector’s address, thank yous, conversation with the officers, and a celebration of our ministry in 2020.
    4. Brunch: Please prepare, for your household, a delicious brunch (so we don’t miss out on this tradition) and we’ll eat together at the beginning of worship, similar to our Easter celebration last year.
    5. Annual Report: Next week, in the middle of the week, you will receive the Annual Report as an electronic file via email.  This will be a large document so don’t print it unless you really want to.  If, you need a hard copy mailed to you or would like to stop by the Rectory to pick one up, please email Rev. Michelle no later than Tuesday, Jan. 26.  Copies will be printed and mailed (or made available) on Wednesday, Jan 27.
    6. Election of Vestry: Most years, the members of Vestry have been elected by the Clerk casting one ballot (with all the candidates on it) on behalf of the congregation.  This year, to allow for nominations from the floor, the “Ballot Box” will be opened at the beginning of worship (rather than at the end) and the named Clerk will be available to take nominations via Zoom chat during the meeting.  Unfortunately, we cannot accomplish complete anonymity.  After at least an hour, the Clerk will be asked if there have been any nominations (without being asked who made the nomination) and we will move forward with the election.
    7. Communion: The sacrament of Communion will not be offered after worship that day.
    8. Vestry Meeting: The newly-elected Vestry will meet immediately after the Annual Meeting to complete some necessary business.

    If you have any questions about this year’s Annual Meeting, please reach out to our Wardens, Lynn Dennison (radennison@aol.com) and Claudette Ford (crford1@gmail.com), or our Rector, Rev. Michelle (michelle.stjohnskingston@gmail.com).

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Tending Our Light

    Our weekly offering of goodness to help keep our spirits buoyed and our mental health on track through the darker months of winter.

    Becca Stevens is an Episcopal priest in Nashville, TN who started a ministry many years ago to help women who found themselves in sex-traffic work and wanted to get out.  Over the years, this ministry has developed into employment for the woman who complete the program and, more recently, a way to support other women – a company called Thistle Farms, a manufacturer of skin care products and distributer of products produced by women all over the world.  Find our more about this amazing company here.

    The other day, Becca posted something beautiful on her Instagram page – 50 Small Things.  A list of “50 very small things we can do with great love to carry us through the next stages of the pandemic that help us practice peace and hold fast to hope.”  And here they are:

    1. Take a walk.
    2. Drink a cup of tea.
    3. Look in the mirror.
    4. Take an extra flight of stairs and say something you are grateful for on each step.
    5. Smile at a stranger.
    6. Sit with your hands folded for 3 minutes.
    7. Say grace before breakfast.
    8. Tell a positive story on social media.
    9. Pet a dog.
    10. Make something.
    11. Write a thank you note.
    12. Say the name of a teacher.
    13. Forgive something.
    14. Laugh at something.
    15. Use a healing oil.
    16. Sip water.
    17. Vote.
    18. Donate something.
    19. Clean out a drawer.
    20. Cut someone some slack.
    21. Pick up a leaf and marvel.
    22. Imagine a desert.
    23. Imagine a river.
    24. Hear the silence.
    25. Don’t buy something.
    26. Skip a meal and donate $5.
    27. Meditate on a bird.
    28. Skip a Zoom call.
    29. Write down a dream.
    30. Sit in a bath.
    31. Light a candle.
    32. Wear an old piece of clothing that has a story.
    33. Remember a hero of justice.
    34. Feel the floor holding you up.
    35. Remember where you got your shoes.
    36. Feel the sunshine on your face.
    37. Feel the rain on your back.
    38. Eat a piece of fruit and imagine its journey and the hands that touched it.
    39. Memorize a verse.
    40. Sing a song.
    41. Draw a picture.
    42. Whistle.
    43. Throw something away.
    44. Write a line of poetry.
    45. Call a friend.
    46. Say something good.
    47. Look at an old photo.
    48. Remember a story about snow.
    49. Find the change in your home.
    50. Change your mind.
    51. Plan a vegetarian meal.
    52. Stretch.
    53. Get up early to see the sun rise.
    54. Howl at the moon.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    COVID-19 Vaccinations – Hope, Patience, and Being Informed

    Dear Ones: I cannot tell you how incredibly heartened I am to know that our federal government is now moving forward with a plan to combat the pandemic – to get more vaccine produced and distributed, stricter guidelines for behavior in public, and more personal protective equipment to those who need it.  Our duty in this fight is to comply with these directives and to be informed about how/when/where the vaccinations will be distributed.

    I was asked to be a part of the Westchester Medical Center’s Equity Task Force and other clergy on the Kingston Interfaith Council been asked to be on other task forces so, through our faith communities, we can hopefully help inform our community.  That’s how this virus is going to be conquered – the members of each community working together.

    The first thing to understand is that the demand for vaccines is much, much greater than the supply right now.  How much greater?  Here’s an example: In Ulster County there are approximately 180,000 people.  About 25% of those people are currently eligible – around 45,000 people.  Right now, Ulster County is only receiving 1,200 doses/week as a part of the 300,000 that New York State is receiving.  And each person needs 2 vaccinations in order for this to work.  The difference is pretty dramatic.

    So, if you’ve been trying to get an appointment and haven’t been able to procure one yet, that’s why.  There is simply not enough supply to meet the demand right now.  The good news is that there is more vaccine being manufactured so the amount of vaccine will soon increase.  There is also one manufacturer working on a single-dose vaccine but it hasn’t been approved for use yet so it’s still a ways out.  Unfortunately, what all this means is that we need to have some patience in the meantime.

    There is a resource for Ulster County: COVID-19 Vaccination Resource Center – Ulster County COVID-19 Information (ulstercountyny.gov).  On this website, you will be able to do three things: 1) review the eligibility protocol to know if you are eligible to receive a vaccine, 2) sign up to receive notifications about when appointments are open (if you’re eligible), 3) access FAQs about vaccine distribution.

    The process of obtaining an appointment is simple but, at this point, extremely frustrating because there are so many people trying to get appointments at the same time.  If you have access to a computer and have the ability to use your phone to sit on hold, know that you are privileged in this process.  There are so many who do not have the same kind of access so, effectively, they have no access.  And, in most cases, these are people who we have learned to call “essential workers,” or they are living in more vulnerable conditions than most of us.

    In short, if you’re eligible, keep trying.  And pray for those who have no access to try.  The equity task force I’m a part of is working to remove as many barriers as possible while trying to make sure the public is informed.

    If you are eligible to receive the vaccine and you have no regular access to a computer nor have a family member to assist you, please contact me.  Also, if you obtain an appointment and need transportation, please reach out to me directly and I’ll make sure you get to your appointment. 

    Hope is here, beloveds.  The task before us right now is patience.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for January 24, 2021

    Epiphany House Blessings!  Each year Rev. Michelle makes the rounds to offer a blessing upon your home and will gladly do so this year, although she cannot stay for a visit.  You can sign up for a House Blessing visit from Rev. Michelle or download simple instructions on how to bless your own home.  Epiphanytide House Blessings – St. John’s Kingston

    The Page Turners book for February 2nd is “Braiding Sweetgrass,” by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  The book for March 2 is “Hamnet,” by Maggie O’Farrell.  Speak to Lynn Dennison for more information.  All are welcome!

    SAVE THE DATE!  St. John’s Annual Meeting is on Sunday, January 31 via Zoom.  More information is forthcoming.  Here is this year’s slate of candidates for Vestry:

    • Lynn Dennison – Warden (2 year term)
    • Liz Moeller – Vestryperson (3 year term)
    • Nilsa Rodriguez-Jaca – Vestryperson (3 year term)
    • Sara Hutton – Vestryperson (1 year term)

    Ministry Opportunities

    Children’s New Book Drive: Family of Woodstock is in need of books for children who are in or are leaving shelters.  If you are coming to in-person church, please consider bringing a new children’s book (all ages).  Or send a donation to the church (207 Albany Ave) and we will do the shopping.  Questions? Contact Outreach Coordinator Elaine (845-532-6585) or Deacon Sue (845-331-5575).

    Have an announcement?
    Please send by Wednesday at noon to 
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.

  9. January 14, 2021

    Pledging at St. John’s

    Thank you to the entire community of St. John’s for your participation in the financial life of our parish through our 2020 Pledge Campaign.  We raised more in pledges than we expected to for our 2021 budget.  Although we still have a deficit and will need to rely on our investment accounts again this year, the Stewardship Committee is very pleased by the commitment from the parish.  Just about everyone sent leaves to cover our Stewardship Tree with life and color, a symbol of our commitment to Christ and to one another.

    The life of any faith community relies heavily on financial pledges made by its members and St. John’s is no different.  Our plans to open up our kitchen for rental in 2020 were put on hold, of course, due to the pandemic and the need to keep all our Angel Food East volunteers safe.  We also lost rental income in 2020 from other groups who use our parish hall.  It looks as though the pandemic will continue to alter our plans for 2021 but we have hope that, by the end of this calendar year, we will be able to open the building again.

    We’re also happy to be able to offer Paypal as an online donation option to those people who need it, as well as for those people who are just visiting St. John’s as it functions like a collection plate for now.  Two things to note about the use of Paypal:

    1. Paypal’s service is not free.  For example, a $100 donation results in a charge of $3.20.  If you are able to pay by check, please consider continuing that practice.  However, if you would like to use Paypal, consider helping to defray the cost of this service by increasing your donation by a couple of dollars.
    2. Paypal offers the ability to insert a note.  When using Paypal, please be clear as to why you’re donating so we can properly apply your donation.  This information will only be seen by our Treasurer.

    Thank you, again, to the community of St. John’s for your generosity and your commitment to our common life.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Tending Our Light

    Our weekly offering of goodness to help keep our spirits buoyed and our mental health on track through the darker months of winter.

    Have you heard the expression, “Going all Zen?”  Perhaps something like this: “I was so upset and thought she would be too, but then she went all Zen on me!”

    In American popular culture, this word means “peaceful and relaxed.”  Which is interesting, considering that the Zen form of Buddhism requires rigorous self-restraint and a strict meditation practice.  It’s not a complete disconnect, however, because through restraint and meditation, one can become more emotionally detached from day-to-day pressures, resulting in more peace and more relaxation.

    One of the practices of Japanese Zen Buddhism is tending to a rock garden, where islands of rock or, sometimes, plants, are surrounded by a large area of gravel or sand.  This gravel is raked regularly and resembles the waves of the sea, while the rocks resemble islands.  Small versions of these have become popular in gift shops – to be put on desks in the office or side tables in our homes.  The idea is that spending the time to rake the gravel or sand is a very calming activity.

    There are many resources available to help you in creating your own simple “Zen garden.”  A simple Google search will give you lots of information.  You can also purchase small table-top ones for around $25.

    If having a garden doesn’t appeal to you, consider watching others creatively tend to their Zen gardens.  One such master is Yuki Kawae who creates beautiful art from raking sand and it’s utterly calming and mesmerizing to watch as he does it.  You can view his videos on You Tube by clicking here.

    Please take some time away from the news cycle, especially right now, to find places of calm and peace.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    The Legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    Dear Ones: I can’t remember if I’ve told this story before so if I have, thank you for your patience.  Since I can remember, I have always held a definitively large place in my heart for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  He was killed 2 days before I was born and, as my mother tells it, there were resulting riots outside the St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Youngstown, OH while she was giving birth to me.  So this amazing human being has always been a part of my own story.

    As I grew up, of course, I came to learn about his leadership, the work of equality he was involved in, his deep Christian faith, and the legacy he left our nation – a legacy of hope and challenge.  That we can make a difference in how we live by changing unjust laws and ensuring that the rights of all are protected, but that we also have to be intentionally involved in creating that future together.

    Just a few months before he was killed, in November of 1967, Dr. King announced the formation of a Poor People’s Campaign.  “Seeking a ‘middle ground between riots on the one hand and timid supplications for justice on the other,’ King planned for an initial group of 2,000 poor people to descend on Washington, D.C., southern states and northern cities to meet with government officials to demand jobs, unemployment insurance, a fair minimum wage, and education for poor adults and children designed to improve their self-image and self-esteem.” (click here for the full version of this article)  Dr. King saw this as an opportunity for new “co-operation, understanding, and determination” by people from across “color lines” because he saw that economic stability is a mark of citizenship and that race and ethnicity are false determinants of differences between people.

    Decades later, the Rev. Dr. William Barber took up the call of Dr. King and pulled together Christians to re-form the Poor People’s Campaign.  It’s not a campaign about politics but about holding our elected leaders accountable to moral leadership.  The campaign meets and works together in smaller working groups to get the information out, meet with leaders, and pressure politicians into creating local, statewide, and federal policy that supports and protects the most vulnerable members of our society.  This nationwide movement is backed by the Episcopal Church, among many other faith communities.

    I hope that during this time of national upheaval, you’ll consider seriously the legacy of Dr. King whose birthday we celebrate this coming weekend.  We’ve witnessed such disgrace in our national life but, no matter how tempting it is, this is not a time to focus on the spectacle and shame of national politics.  Instead, let us pull together as people – brothers, sisters, siblings… all children-of-God, to make a change for good.

    The Poor People’s Campaign is hosting two events.  On Monday, January 18 (MLK Jr’s birthday), the PPC will host a National Interfaith Service of Light, Love, and Leadership beginning at 1:00 pm.  You may also want to join the PPC the night before on Sunday, January 17 at 8:00 pm for a Prayer for Beloved Community in the Midst of COVID and Chaos.  Both of these links will be available on the St. John’s website where you find all the worship links.

    If you’re looking for a way to truly make a difference in our national life, to bring your deepest beliefs to decisions that affect all of us, becoming a part of the Poor People’s Campaign is a positive and moral way to do it.  Click here to begin learning more.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for January 17, 2021

    This Sunday! Pastoral Care Team meeting after church beginning at 12:30.  Click here to attend.  All are welcome!

    Epiphany Home Blessings!  Each year Rev. Michelle makes the rounds to offer a blessing upon your home and will gladly do so this year, although she cannot stay for a visit.  You can sign up for a Home Blessing visit from Rev. Michelle or download simple instructions on how to bless your own home.  Epiphanytide Home Blessings – St. John’s Kingston

    The Page Turners Our book for February 2nd is “Braiding Sweetgrass,” by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  Speak to Lynn Dennison for more information.  All are welcome!

    Diocesan Prayer Service:  On Wednesday, January 20, at 8:00 am the bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of New York will conduct a brief prayer service that, in these days of extreme turmoil, we may be one people before God raising a prayer for safety and well-being for our nation.  As soon as it becomes available, this link will be posted on the St. John’s website, along with the other links to worship services.

    SAVE THE DATE!  St. John’s Annual Meeting is on Sunday, January 31 via Zoom.  More information is forthcoming.  Here is this year’s slate of candidates for Vestry:

    • Lynn Dennison – Warden (2 year term)
    • Liz Moeller – Vestryperson (3 year term)
    • Nilsa Rodriguez-Jaca – Vestryperson (3 year term)
    • Sara Hutton – Vestryperson (1 year term)

    Ministry Opportunities

    Children’s New Book Drive: Family of Woodstock is in need of books for children who are in or are leaving shelters.  If you are coming to in-person church, please consider bringing a new children’s book (all ages).  Or send a donation to the church (207 Albany Ave) and we will do the shopping.  Questions? Contact Outreach Coordinator Elaine (845-532-6585) or Deacon Sue (845-331-5575).

    Have an announcement?
    Please send by Wednesday at noon to 
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.

  10. January 7, 2021

    Epiphanytide Home Blessings

    The door of one of Rev. Michelle’s friends after a blessing. Pine spray w/ ribbon is not included.

    When the Magi arrive at the home of God, they offer a blessing in response to the epiphany – the glorious awareness of God’s inbreaking into our world.  This is a blessing that spreads as the Magi offer the gift of this love to whomever comes to their door.  The tradition of House Blessing during Epiphanytide comes out of this Christian story and occurs all over Europe as a way to bless a home and its inhabitants for the coming year.  There are two ways to have your home blessed:

    1. Rev. Michelle will still offer this blessing (because, when has their been a more important time to have our homes blessed?) but this year, because of the pandemic, we’ll be shortening the Home Blessing a bit.  Rev. Michelle will come to your door with chalk (to mark your door) and holy water (to bless the entryway) but won’t be able to come into your home to visit.  And, if it’s not too cold, she’ll ask you to say a very short prayer with her in the doorway.  You can sign-up for an appointment here.
    2. But you may want to bless your own home.  If so, there are instructions on the website here.  All you need is a piece of chalk.

     

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Tending Our Light

    Our weekly offering of goodness to help keep our spirits buoyed and our mental health on track through the darker months of winter.

    Who can resist watching a cute little otter paddle around in the water?  Or the graceful beauty of a jellyfish?  How about a young giant panda rolling around on its back as it chomps on a snack?  Or the crazy antics of a penguin or a baboon?

    Animals have the distinct ability to help us reconnect with delight and calm.  They aren’t concerned about national politics and they could care less about social media.  They just are.  Moving around, eating, playing… all the simple things that all God’s creatures are capable of, including us.

    Why not devote a few minutes everyday to watching a few of our fellow creatures just be who they are?  Here’s a list of just a few locations that have live webcams.  Google “zoo aquarium webcams” to find more!  Most of them have lots of educational resources too, if you’re so inclined.

    But most important, just enjoy and let the animals be your guides.

    Monterey Bay Aquarium

    Smithsonian National Zoo

    San Diego Zoo

    Click here for zoo cams from around the world!

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    The Meaning of Epiphany

    Dear Ones: I hope you received my email on Wednesday.  In the midst of the chaotic moment we all witnessed at the U.S. Capitol building that afternoon, I found myself experiencing so many emotions, seemingly at the same time and some of them were conflicting.  As I watched posts pour out across social media, I realized I wasn’t alone.  Perhaps you had the same experience.

    And one voice rose above the cacophony of posts – an African-American woman who teaches the Hebrew Scriptures at a seminary and is an Episcopal priest.  She said, “Go, check on your people.”  I’m so grateful to her for that clarity, for her ability to channel God, because it reminded me to send that email and to invite you all to prayer.  And so we had a special Compline service that night.  I was glad to see so many people attend in the Zoom room and on Facebook.

    I’m not the only person to recognize the timing – that incursion into the U.S. Capitol building took place on the Feast of the Epiphany.  Because it is and should be exactly that – an epiphany for so many of us that have remained in various states of unconscious about what’s happening in our nation.

    It is a singular event, to be sure.  And it’s so easy to blame a person or one of the political parties.  But I want to remind us all that to do so, to look for a scapegoat, regardless of how deplorable we believe them to be, is an exercise in futility that offers nothing except some sense of false relief.  Finding a Judas is easy and it still bears no fruit.  Love is still sacrificed even when we find a person to blame.  The truth is, the systems and policies of this nation, of our society, are ultimately responsible for this.  Yes, there are individuals who need to be held accountable for specific acts.  But that does not purge the disease from our collective blood.

    The disease is white supremacy.  And, even if we believe we are good people – because each member of St. John’s IS a good person and I love each of you, as does God – of this I am absolutely certain.  But even if we know this to be true about ourselves, that doesn’t mean we are not unconscious about how the system of white supremacy has infected us and forced us to uphold a set of beliefs that are utterly contrary to God’s law that is written on our hearts.

    We love to talk about the Feast of the Epiphany imagining the 3 Magi crossing the desert on camels to arrive at the home of Jesus just after his birth.  We love that this Christ child is such a spectacular event that it drew the richest and the wisest to the manger to worship at the feet of Love Incarnate.  And we should love these things.  It’s a beautiful story of joy, and love, and peace.

    And the point of this story is to understand that this miraculous birth takes place in the manger of our hearts.  When we ready ourselves for the truth of love, we are readying ourselves for quite an epiphany.  Because, inherent in the gift is the blessing we are given to share.  We are given love as we learn to give love itself.

    And American theologian Cornell West reminds us, “Justice is what love looks like in public.”  This means that love is more than being a nice person. It means that we are called to continue looking beyond our own limits of understanding to learn how to see differently and work for issues of real justice.

    My dear ones, I hope the epiphany we have been given this year will open the eyes of your heart in new ways.  This is not a time for blame.  This is a time to humble ourselves at the manger and learn how love can remove this disease from our minds and hearts and lives.  This is not an easy “fix.”  This is work that we will be doing for the rest of our lives.  So, let us do so with joy and a sense of purpose, for it is the work of Christ.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for January 10, 2021

    Next Sunday, January 17: Pastoral Care Team meeting after church beginning at 12:30.  Click here to attend.  All are welcome!

    Epiphany Home Blessings!  Each year Rev. Michelle makes the rounds to offer a blessing upon your home and will gladly do so this year, although she cannot stay for a visit.  You can sign up for a Home Blessing visit from Rev. Michelle or download simple instructions on how to bless your own home.  Epiphanytide Home Blessings – St. John’s Kingston

    The Page Turners Our book for February 2nd is “Braiding Sweetgrass,” by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  Speak to Lynn Dennison for more information.  All are welcome!

    SAVE THE DATE!  St. John’s Annual Meeting is on Sunday, January 31 via Zoom.  More information is forthcoming.  Here is this year’s slate of candidates for Vestry:

    • Lynn Dennison – Warden (2 year term)
    • Liz Moeller – Vestryperson (3 year term)
    • Nilsa Rodriguez-Jaca (3 year term)
    • Sara Hutton (1 year term)

    Education for Ministry (EFM):  What is EFM?  Every baptized person is called to ministry. EFM is a program designed to support that ministry.  Participants gather in small, mentored groups where they learn more deeply about the Christian faith and how it shapes our lives.  A Tuesday evening Zoom group is being shaped among the Episcopal congregations in Ulster County that will start in January.  Space is limited so contact Teri Jones ASAP for more information at terijones@optonline.net.

    Ministry Opportunities

    Children’s New Book Drive: Family of Woodstock is in need of books for children who are in or are leaving shelters.  If you are coming to in-person church, please consider bringing a new children’s book (all ages).  Or send a donation to the church (207 Albany Ave) and we will do the shopping.  Questions? Contact Outreach Coordinator Elaine (845-532-6585) or Deacon Sue (845-331-5575).

    Have an announcement?
    Please send by Wednesday at noon to 
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.