Becoming Beloved Community
In the coming weeks, look for a new bulletin board in the Parish Hall titled Becoming Beloved Community. This bulletin board, along with the Good News from St. John’s, will be our central gathering point as we focus on ongoing Christian formation work on this work. There you will find resources, messages, images, scripture and more.
More specifically, the vision of Beloved Community rises from a commitment to following the Bible’s most important commandments: to Love God and love our neighbors, in whom we see the face of God. Beloved Community is the community that loves and God intends: where truth is told and hierarchies of human value are dismantled, where each person and culture is protected and honored as an equally beloved part of the human family of God, and where we counter human selfishness – the true root of sin and racism – with the selfless love of Jesus.
We will share stories, look at scripture, unpack “isms,” and learn more about the history of St. John’s. And, in this process, we will use materials and resources developed by the Episcopal Church in recent years. Those who developed these programs recognized that every human being has a different journey with systemic racism and that each local church community will have specific community context and membership make-up. So our ways through this work are varied even as they all occur along a common path with the same goal.
In using the metaphor of the labyrinth, we can organize our learning around the four quadrants. Each quadrant represents a commitment that is vital to lasting change within us, our churches, our communities and society at large.
- Truth-telling: Telling the Truth about Our Churches and Race
- Proclamation: Proclaiming the Dream of Beloved Community
- Formation: Practicing Jesus’ Way of Healing Love
- Justice: Repairing the Breach in Society and Institutions
Please make it a point to join the larger community of St. John’s as we gather for this work together.
Care Taking and Taking Care
The month of July went by in a blur for me. Just as I was settling into a 3-day silent retreat at Holy Cross Monastery on July 5, I received a late-night phone call from my mom’s friend who told me that she was in the hospital. So, I packed everything back into my car, came home, and drove to Western PA the next morning. I won’t go into all the details of my mom’s illness, but physically, she is much, much better. Unfortunately, the issue was largely caused by her declining cognitive state, which her doctor and I have been monitoring for a couple of years. It’s clear from this that the time has come for a change in how my mom lives her life.
Before I go further, I want to thank you all for your prayers and kind notes. I’m sorry if I wasn’t able to respond to you but I am very grateful and felt upheld in prayer.
As you know, different people have different approaches to significant change. Some people are “let’s just rip off the band-aid” kind of people and like to jump into change. And on the other end of the spectrum are those who refuse to change at all. My mom is somewhere towards the latter, in that change is quite hard for her. She has always had her way of doing things and she’s always been incredibly independent. As her only surviving child, I’ll be the one helping her (with Ana’s help of course). And as we move through this change, I know it will be a step-by-step transition.
In the meantime, I’m aware that I am way overdue for a break myself and in need of self-care. And the only way we can truly be there for others is to learn how to be there for ourselves first. There is a theological reason for this.
If we do not feel cared for, we can begin to block experiences of gratitude, awe, and mercy. We stop seeing the beauty of the world as it is, and we start to see the people in our world as objects. We become critical and envious, always trying to find the person that will give me what I need. Addictions can arise and we focus on petty things. And it’s impossible to offer true hospitality when we are in that state because we have stopped believing we are a repository for God’s Love. We have stopped believing we have Love to offer and our own problems start to seem overwhelming.
But when we do learn to care for ourselves, to love ourselves, and to be compassionate with ourselves, we create a situation in which we are actively nurturing the experience of God’s Love in our lives. Prayer, gratitude journals, eating healthy foods, connecting with others, moving our bodies any way we can to produce helpful hormones in our system… these are things that support and nourish us. Taking care, then, is just as important as care taking. I struggle with this balance, as many people do.
So, Ana and I will be going on vacation starting Tuesday, August 2. I will return to work on Tuesday, August 16. The Rev. Janet Vincent will be with you on Sundays and she will be available for pastoral emergencies that arise while I’m gone. I know you’re in good hands.
And over these two weeks, consider the balance of care taking and taking care. Perhaps helping another person is exactly what you need to do. Or it could be that nourishing yourself is what you need to do. I suspect it’s both.
In God’s love and mine,
Announcements for the Fifth Sunday of Pentecost
July 30, 2022
Centering Prayer is on hiatus for the month of August. We return on Wednesday, September 7.
Feeding people is our jam! St. John’s Harvest is back! Join us in the kitchen to clean, chop, stir, and make cool stuff on the last Saturday of the month from 10-5. Last year, we canned jams, chutney, and conserves; made Sara’s soap, hand sanitizer, and Jocelyn’s amazing Beeswax wraps! No experience necessary. Hands of all ages welcome. Show up for shifts of 2, 4, or 6 hours, and let’s have fun while we raise money for St. John’s! Mark your calendar: August 27th; Sept. 24th, and Oct. 29th
St. John’s Walkers: Let’s get moving! We do one walk a week, alternating morning and evening times, so pick the times that work for you and let’s get moving! We meet at the location. If you need a ride, contact Ana Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-357-0365 and she will arrange a ride. We need people to lead walks and come up with ideas for walks, keeping in mind that we have people of all abilities. If you’d like to lead, give Ana a call.
Summer Walking Schedule
Thurs, August 18, 7pm
Tues, August 23, 9am
Thurs, August 30, 7pm
Tues, Sept. 6, 9am
Flower Ministry: Every week, members of St. John’s offer a memorial of thanksgiving or honor a loved one who has gone before by supporting the Flower Ministry at St. John’s with a monetary donation. You’ll see this memorial listed in the bulletin each week. This ministry ensures we have lovely fresh flowers every week on our altar. Please consider signing up for a Sunday. Contact Elaine Lawrence at email@example.com
Social Hour Hosting: You are invited to sign up on the bulletin board in the Vestibule to be a social hour host! Talk with our Hospitality Coordinator, Barbara Johnston for more information.
Calling all bakers! Do you like to make things in the kitchen? Our Communion Bread recipe is easy and quick. You bake one batch, deliver the bread to the church, and we keep it in the freezer until we use it. Sign up to bake for a month (or two) this year. The sign-up sheet is on the bulletin board in the Vestibule.
Page Turners Book Club: The Page Turners are returning to meeting in person. We will skip August and meet in September. Details for that meeting will be announced as soon as possible. New members are always welcome. Please speak to Claudette, or Barbara Johnston for more information.
Have an announcement for the bulletin?
Please send by Wednesday at noon to firstname.lastname@example.org