Christmas Eve – The Feast of the Incarnation
In order to keep us all safe, our Christmas Eve worship service, the Feast of the Incarnation, will be celebrated virtually, online. We’ll begin at 7:30 with a concert of music and carols and our worship will officially begin at 8:00 pm.
While we will use our Zoom platform to be together, Rev. Michelle and the other liturgical leaders have already begun video recording different elements of the worship service so that we have a special offering, a combination of live and recorded portions, on one of our most sacred nights of the year. We have lots of glorious music to share and we’ll be featuring different parts of our beloved sanctuary to help us all connect to our home. The link will be posted on our Online Streaming Worship page soon.
One of our traditions has been to sing Silent Night by candlelight. Those of you who have received Worship Boxes, will note that you already have your candle. For those of you who did not sign up to receive Worship Boxes, Rev. Michelle will gladly deliver a candle to you. Please contact her directly before Dec. 23 so that you can have your candle for Christmas Eve. Email her at email@example.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.
Christianity isn’t the only religion to have a theological focus on light during these months. Our Jewish siblings begin their 8-night celebration of Chanukah TONIGHT (Thursday, Dec. 10) at sundown. While the Jewish people’s high holy days are celebrated in the fall during Rosh Hashanah, Chanukah known as the Festival of Lights, is more of a fun celebration that tells the story of a miracle – 8 nights of light from one-night’s worth of oil. The celebration is an ancient one, beginning with the rededication of the Second Temple. Read more here.
This week, from Dec. 10-18, we are invited by our neighbors at Congregation Emanuel of the Hudson Valley to join with them in this joyous celebration! You can find out more about what’s happening each night here: Chanukah – Congregation Emanuel of the Hudson Valley (cehv.org) Rabbi Yael and her team have taken into account all safety guidelines, of course.
Please consider participating and learning more about the Jewish tradition, especially this Friday night, December 11, as our friends at CEHV borrow the St. John’s parking lot for a Drive-in Chanukah, a short Chanukah play performed live and broadcast over the zoom phone line so that all can hear. Please don’t attend in person so that we can make sure the limited space is given to the members of CEHV. But you can listen in from the comfort of your home. Here are the details:
Between 5:45 and 6:00, dial: (929) 205-6099
Enter meeting ID: 82025668746#
Enter 0 upon prompt
Enter passcode: 4385047#
Enjoy these 8 nights as we share in the joy of this lovely season with our Jewish siblings. Reach out to your own Jewish friends and neighbors and spend some time learning more about this sweet celebration.
Dear Ones: Back in October, a young couple started hanging out during the day in our St. Francis Memorial Garden. This is not unusual, the garden is a haven for many people in our neighborhood who need a quiet, protected space. After a few days, I reached out to welcome them. I learned that they had suddenly found themselves struggling to find housing so I offered a little monetary support and told them they were welcome here.
To keep their story confidential, I’ll jump forward. During the month of November, they slept in the balcony of our sanctuary off and on, about 6 nights in all, during rainy/cold nights. I asked them to keep to the sanctuary and and trusted them to do so because they had been very respectful of both me and our space.
I made a crucial misstep, however, in not telling our wardens Lynn Dennison and Claudette Ford of my decision. While I know I did the right thing in providing them shelter, I regret the decision to keep it to myself. In talking with the couple, I knew this was a very temporary situation and, I suppose, my first thoughts were to give them the space they needed to figure things out without troubling too many people.
Lynn and Claudette are wise counselors, however, and good leaders. Had I told them at the outset, I’m sure they would have helped me think through the implications of my decision. Because it turns out, I completely misjudged the impact this would have on our Angel Food East team due to the pandemic (as well as a few of our parishioners who use parts of the building regularly). I forgot that these people consider our building to be their home too. Our intrepid AFE volunteers have been continuing to offer themselves in service during this pandemic and they learned of the presence of our guests in a way that made them feel blind-sided. I regret this.
So, my reflection is two-fold this week. First, the wisest, most pastoral thing to do is to offer information that will help people make good decisions and trust that God is working to guide those decisions, especially when people are already feeling unsafe. I didn’t trust God and, in so doing, did not respect all the people who call our building home. Of course, the Angel Food East team continues to be committed to serving our neighbors in need in the midst of a pandemic. And I am grateful.
Second, we have a huge housing crisis in Kingston right now. There is not enough affordable housing to begin with, Kingston being well below the rate of available housing deemed appropriate to avoid homelessness. Additionally, people are being evicted and displaced, either because they are having trouble paying rent due to the joblessness brought on by the pandemic, or by rising rents due to the influx of homebuyers and weekend-renters from NYC. Don’t get me wrong, we welcome those who are moving into Kingston! But we’re facing a disturbance in the eco-system of our community that we must attend to. While the moratorium on evictions in New York State can assist, some landlords are still taking action while others are locked in a holding pattern, trying to help their tenants but also needing to pay their own bills.
While I can always learn to make better decisions (this was a big learning for me), solving the housing crisis is going to take the larger community. I know it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of this problem, I think we need to begin considering what we can do to join with other people in Kingston who are already working on this. Outreach is caring for those who have fallen through the safety net. Advocacy is taking action to create just policies so that people don’t fall into the safety net to begin with. Individually, we can choose to focus our efforts toward outreach or advocacy or both. As a congregation, I think we can involve ourselves in both and consider what we are called to do.
Right now, I don’t know exactly where our two guests are. They have been out of contact with me for a couple of weeks now. My prayers have been with them as has my hope that they have found a more permanent place to call home. The story of Love’s birth among us could not have come at a more appropriate time because the issue of homelessness has arrived, literally, on our doorstep.
In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle
Announcements for December 13, 2020
THIS SUNDAY! Outreach Committee Meeting. We meet on Zoom at 12:30, Sunday, Dec 13. Please click to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/198694790
A Service of Light and Remembrance: Monday, December 21 at 7:00 pm. For many of us, especially this year, the holiday season is not all joyous. Feelings of grief and painful memories come along with the joy of Love’s birth among us. It really helps to give space to these parts of our experience and to allow light into those places we would rather keep in the dark. Come for a hopeful service on the longest night of the year designed to support every part of us. Led by the Companions of Mary the Apostle (Shane Phelan and Elizabeth Broyles who have been guest priests at St. John’s) and Ana Hernandez. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the link for this service.
A special announcement! The Vestry of St. John’s offers profound thanks for the ministry of Jenny Allred over these past years, as the bookkeeper of St. John’s. She has faithfully paid our bills and kept the records to assist our Treasurer and keep the Vestry apprised of our budget and balances. Jenny completes her ministry this month as we welcome a new bookkeeper to St. John’s. Thank you so much, Jenny, for your stewardship of our resources and your faithful ministry!
We have begun collecting for this year’s Christmas Outreach Memorials. All monies will go to Angel Food East this year. Simply fill out the form at the bottom of the Sunday bulletin and either send it in or drop it off at the Rectory on or before December 20.
Thank you to all who have pledged for 2021! We’ll announce the final pledge number soon. For those who haven’t been able to get your pledge in yet, no worries, we’re still taking them. Drop off your leaves and pledge form at the Rectory or mail them in and we’ll continue putting them on the tree. Using the theme of Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed, we’re focusing on how all of our giving – time, talent, treasure – is the seed that grows our St. John’s community. If you did not receive a letter, please contact Lynn Dennison from the Stewardship Committee.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.