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:
- 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.
- 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)
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.