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?
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.
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
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: email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.