Christmas Eve Worship
We celebrate the Feast of the Incarnation Thursday evening, December 24 at 8:00 pm via Zoom. The service will have both pre-recorded and live portions.
Be sure to have a candle ready to sing Silent Night via candlelight. If you’d like, pour a glass of your favorite celebratory beverage and stay for a brief reception afterwards (unfortunately the annual Rectory Christmas Eve Dessert Reception is postponed until next year).
The Zoom room will open at 7:10 pm. Music and carols start at 7:30 pm.
The bulletin and link will be available on the St. John’s website.
Outreach Memorial – Supporting the Work of Angel Food East
Angel Food East began in 1992 after a few St. John’s parishioners came together to put together a response to the AIDS/HIV epidemic. By reaching out to those who were shunned by the larger society through the simple act of shopping for groceries for them, Angel Food East became Christ’s presence for these individuals. And groceries became delicious prepared meals. In response, St. John’s expanded our kitchen to accommodate the growing ministry. And over 25 years later, this group of intrepid volunteers are still cooking and delivering meals for over 70 people every week as we’ve opened up our services to all individuals who are chronically homebound.
Angel Food East (AFE) has a hugely successful fundraiser each year in March – the Mac-n-Cheese Bakeoff, with well-known local chefs and an amazing silent auction. Last year, right before the pandemic hit us, AFE surpassed their goal. And, while they hope to have a fundraiser again this coming year, it’s unknown as to what that will look like and how much they can expect to raise. Still, Angel Food East needs to continue operating to continue caring for some of our most vulnerable neighbors.
Our Christmas Outreach Memorial is especially important this year. We know AFE’s fundraising will look very different in 2021 so the St. John’s Outreach Committee needs your help to make our monetary gift to this vital community program as big as possible.
Please take the time to fill out the Christmas Outreach Memorial form in your weekly bulletin and send your payment along with it. Drop it off at the Rectory on or before December 20. Or, if you’re running late, send an email to Rev. Michelle so she has time to get your memorial into the Christmas Eve bulletin, and then send your payment in. Be sure to note “Christmas Outreach” on the check.
Thank you, in advance, for your generosity this year.
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.
I was watching a British television series a few weeks ago called The Spanish Princess. It was all about Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Queen Isabella of Spain and the first wife of Henry VIII of England. One of the most poignant scenes was a funeral for Prince Arthur, Catherine’s first husband. The English people were stoic, refusing to show their emotion, while the two Spanish attendants of Catherine wailed and sang their pain as loudly as they could. Arthur’s grandmother, ever aware of propriety, was disturbed and wanted them to stop. But Arthur’s mother said, “No. Let them wail.”
I think one of the biggest mistakes we can make is to ignore our sorrow, our grief, and our pain, even though that’s often our preference. Doing so only gives these emotions more power over us in the end as we run towards anything we can find that will help to keep them at bay. When we give them space, however, we soon realize that we can move through them into a deeper joy and a sense of peace.
Especially this year, I’m thankful that my beloved Ana is working with our friends Shane and Elizabeth of the Companions of Mary the Apostle to bring this service to life and offer us the opportunity to share it with them. I hope we’ll be able to continue offering it in future years.
Please, my dear ones, come for this service on the longest night of the year. By tending to our light in this way, we are preparing a space – a bigger space for ourselves to experience and live into God’s Love for us. Rev. Michelle
A Service of Light and Remembrance Monday, December 21 7:00 pm
We join with our friends down the road, the Companions of Mary the Apostle, for a special online service because, for so many of us, especially this year, Christmas can bring difficult emotions and memories. This service will give you space for your grief and sorrow so you have room for deeper joy. Click the service name above to enter the worship space. The bulletin will be posted online soon.
Dear Ones: A few moments ago I was walking back from the church building, minding my footing on the slick – but fully plowed – parking lot. And I looked up at the Rectory. It’s such a beautiful building. And beautifully set on the bank of the Esopus wetlands surrounded by tall pines and big beech trees. The first snowfall is always a bit glorious in this setting.
This time of year, with Advent being my favorite liturgical season, I love to put electric candles in each of the Rectory’s front windows where they stay until Candlemas on February 2, the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. And each year, I have relished the ritual of placing them on the very first day of Advent and then going around the house every night to turn them on, marking the shift in light.
But this year, my ritual has been thwarted, mostly by electric candles that won’t cooperate. One will turn on sometimes but not other times. I seem to have lost the necessary extension cords for another. Still another candle WAS working but seems to not be working at all now. And I have run out of the sticky putty that I used to use to keep them in place so they are falling over, causing me to go through bulbs at an annoying rate. It’s all become quite comical.
But tonight, as I crossed the slippery parking lot and saw that some of the windows didn’t have working candles, what would normally irritate me just brought a smile to my face. I wasn’t laughing at myself, but was taking comfort in the imperfection. I felt nourished by the realization that I’m really not in control (not the first time I’ve hit upon that wisdom and certainly not the last). Yet, I was still taken by the quiet beauty of the building amidst the snow-covered trees, even though there are some darkened windows.
As far as ritual goes, what seems to be most important right now, is the ritual of showing up and doing whatever it is we can, knowing that our efforts could be thwarted at any time. Releasing our attachment to outcomes. Just offering ourselves, honestly and vulnerably. And taking things like electric candles in the windows a lot less seriously.
In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle
Announcements for December 20, 2020
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. The link for this service is on our website.
Please be sure to drop off your Christmas Outreach Memorial as soon as possible. They are due TODAY! All monies will go to Angel Food East this year. Simply fill out the form at the bottom of the bulletin and drop it by the Rectory.
A big thank you from the Stewardship Committee for your financial commitment to St. John’s! We’re still tabulating the final numbers so you still have time to drop off your leaves and pledge form at the Rectory or mail them in.
The Page Turners will meet Tuesday, January 5th to discuss, “Rules for Visiting,” by Jessica Francis Kane. Our book for February 2nd is “Braiding Sweetgrass,” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Speak to Lynn Dennison for more information. All are welcome!
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.