This Week at St. John’s
Mid-Hudson Regional Gathering
Saturday, July 29: Eucharist begins at 11:00 am
Contact Rev. Michelle to carpool: firstname.lastname@example.org
Episcopalians from across the Hudson Valley region are invited to join our Bishop and Bishop Coadjutor for a special celebration and worship service on Saturday, July 29th at 11:00 am at Christ Episcopal Church, 20 Carroll Street, Poughkeepsie.
Bishop Andrew ML Dietsche will celebrate Holy Eucharist; Bishop Coadjutor Matthew Heyd will preach, and a regional choir, led by our own Ana Hernandez and Sr. Helena Marie, will provide festive music. An outdoor picnic reception and conversation with the two bishops will follow.
You can sign up to:
- Sing in the regional choir (sign up)
- Bring a side dish or dessert (sign up)
- Help with setup or cleanup (sign up)
We continue reading the Gospel of Matthew. This week, we continue our reading of the Sermon on the Mount – chapters 5, 6, and 7. Sundays 8:30-9:30 in person or Wednesday 12:00-1:00 on Zoom. If you’d like to join Wednesdays session, email Rev. Michelle so she can send you the Zoom link.
Christian Saints: St. Mary Magdalene
A regular Newsletter feature about the lives of the saints.
Every summer, on July 22, the church celebrates one of its major saints – Mary of Magdala, or as many people know her, Mary Magdalene. What we know from scripture is that Mary was a follower of Jesus and is identified in all four of the Gospel accounts as being among the first to witness the Resurrection. Many Christians, therefore, call her the Apostle to the Apostles – the one who first proclaimed the risen Christ to those who would later come to be known as apostles.
St Mary of Magdala and Jesus’ mother Mary have both been used as foils for church/society’s teaching on the so-called “role of women” for centuries. In particular, Mary of Magdala has been labeled through the years as a mystic, a celibate nun, a prostitute, and most recently, as the matriarch of Jesus’ secret family. But Pope Gregory I made perhaps one of the most egregious errors of scriptural interpretation in 591 CE when, in an Easter sermon, he conflated the character of Mary Magdalene with the “unnamed sinful woman” in Luke chapter 7. And thus, her unearned reputation as a repentant prostitute began.
Most recently, scholars believe that Mary was the author of one of the documents found in 1896 that have collectively come to be known as the Nag Hammadi Library or the Gnostic Gospels. Officially named the Gospel of Mary, this text demonstrates a deep knowledge and familiarity of Jesus. She is also named in other texts from Nag Hammadi, namely the Gospels of Philip and Thomas.
In icons of Mary Magdalene, we often see her depicted with a jar of perfume to recall her anointing of Jesus. Otherwise, we see her depicted with an egg and, contrary to what you might find when you search about this on the internet, this has nothing to do with Easter eggs. Very simply, the egg is a symbol of the Resurrection. All other stories about Mary and eggs are fables. A word of caution, thanks to the novels of Dan Brown (which are fantastic fictional reads!), there is a significant amount of conjecture and outright fallacy about Mary Magdalene on many websites. Please be mindful when you read up on her.
Regardless of how we characterize Mary Magdalene, she is a formidable character in the Gospel witness. In addition to her witness to the Resurrection, she provides an example of profound, unquestioning devotion to Jesus and his teachings, offering us a glimpse of what it would be like to fully live our lives in Christ. As a person of the world, Mary comes to her faith earnestly and, in turn, is given her life’s work. She shows us how grace functions in our lives as we learn to leave the ways of the world behind and resume our true identity as the beloved of God.
It is said that she is buried in the south of France in the Provence-Alps-Cote d’Azur. Pilgrims from all over the world flock to the Basilica named for her there, the Basilique Sainte Marie Madeleine.
You can learn more about Mary Magdalene in these scripture passages:
Matthew 27:45-61; 28:1-20
Mark 15:33-47; 16:1-8
Luke 8:1-3; 24:1-12
John 19:16-27; 20:1-18
Developing Contemplative Practice
As many of you know, we host a weekly online Centering Prayer session on Wednesdays at 5:30. We started this group in 2018 but moved it online during the pandemic, keeping it on Zoom because we grew to include people from several parts of the Hudson Valley and a few, even beyond that.
There is a correlation between a contemplative spiritual practice and our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Neuroscience tells us that by practicing meditation on a regular basis, we are able to literally rewire our brains. What does this mean? It means that we can learn to develop a more measured response to the things in our world that trigger us in some way. We spend less time being angry, offering judgment, stewing in fearful or anxious thoughts, and we spend more time developing our capacity for compassion – both for ourselves and others.
Developing a contemplative practice for yourself is such a gift. And it doesn’t have to mean that you are a mystic or a touchy-feely kind of person. It does mean that you are taking time to center yourself and reconnect to God.
I recently found a book called Practicing the Pause by Caroline Oakes, in which she talks about the importance of having a contemplative practice and demonstrates how Jesus embodies such a practice in the Gospel narrative. I haven’t read through too much of it yet because I’m busy reading our parish read – No Act of Love Is Ever Wasted, but so far, what I’ve read tells me that this is a helpful guide to developing a practice for yourself.
Of course, all are welcome to join us on Wednesdays at 5:30. You can always find the link on the St. John’s website: Online Prayer Services – St. John’s Kingston (stjohnskingston.org). Or, if you’d like to talk to me individually about developing your own practice, I’m happy to do so.
In God’s love and mine,
Announcements for July 23
The Eighth Sunday After Pentecost
St. John’s Office Hours
Wednesdays 10:00-12:00 noon,
Thursdays 1:00-4:00 pm
Have an announcement for the bulletin?
Please send by Wednesday at noon to email@example.com.
ANNOUNCING! Creation Care Camp for Kids: August 28-September 1
A week of summer camp centered around loving the earth, exploring the idea of environmental justice, and engaging our responsibility to care for God’s creation. We’ll use Bible stories, experiential activities, and reflection time to help us connect our spirituality with the wonder of creation. All kids Pre-K-5th grade are invited to be campers! Rev. Michelle of St. John’s and Rev. Marcella of Christ the King will lead activities.
- The camp will be held at Christ the King in Stone Ridge. Transportation from St. John’s Kingston is available – talk to Rev. Michelle.
- Cost: $75 for first child, $50 for each additional child. Scholarships are available. Cost should not be a barrier to participation!
- Sample Daily Schedule:
9:00-10:00 – Gathering, Music, Opening Prayer
10:00 -11:30 – Workshops: Movement, Arts/Crafts, Bible Study, Snack Time
11:30-12:00 – Closing Reflection, Music, and Prayer
To register your child: Email Rev. Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org
Summer Book Read: Join us over Zoom as we read through No Act of Love Is Ever Wasted by Thibault and Morgan, a non-fiction read that focuses on caring for people with dementia and is also a good reflection for all who provide pastoral care or are caretakers of friends or family.
When? Thursdays from 11:00-12:15 (July 20, Aug. 3, Aug. 17).
Email Rev. Michelle if you’re interested in attending!
Bible Study: Come and join in Bible Study with Rev. Michelle on Sundays at 8:30 am (in person) or Wednesdays at 12:00 noon (via Zoom). We are studying the Gospel of Matthew and you can join the conversation any Sunday! Everyone is welcome to pick up a one-page overview of this Gospel on the bulletin board in the Vestibule. Email Rev. Michelle if you’d like to join the Wednesday Bible Study on Zoom.
St. John’s Outreach Project – People’s Place: When you go to the store, pick up a few extra non-perishable food items for People’s Place food pantry (tuna, soup, pasta, sauce, etc.). We are also taking donations of birthday napkins/plates, candles, and gift bags in various sizes. Bring them to church and place them in the appropriate baskets near the Font.
Mid-Hudson Regional Gathering On July 29, the Episcopal parishes of the Mid-Hudson will gather for a special Eucharist to continue the celebration of our newly consecrated Bishop Matt Heyd, who will preach that day. Plan to bring items for the potluck afterwards and/or come early at 9:45 to join the festival choir! Saturday, July 29 at 11:00 am at Christ Church, Poughkeepsie.