St. John’s Episcopal Church
207 Albany Avenue, Kingston, NY 12401

The Good News of St. John’s

  1. June 10, 2021

    In-person AND Online: Celebrating Deacon Sue’s Ministry This Sunday

    This coming Sunday, June 13, please join us in honoring Deacon Sue by attending worship so we may celebrate her ministry among us.  Bishop Mary Glasspool, the Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of New York, will be with us as Deacon Sue serves on her final Sunday at St. John’s. Afterwards, we will have a party on the lawn with refreshments to continue the celebration.

    You may attend the celebration in one of 3 ways: in-person, via Zoom, and through Facebook Live.

    1. Attending in-person? We have with limited seating capacity due to the pandemic but please don’t let that sway you from coming.  Click here: We ask that everyone RSVP by using this form to let us know that you will be coming to worship on June 13.  We want to be sure we have the sanctuary space to accommodate all who are planning to come.
    2. Attending via Zoom?  Please click here to go to the St. John’s website where you will find the link for the Zoom room as well as the bulletin for the service.  The room will open approximately 15 minutes before we begin.
    3. Attending through Facebook Live?  If you’d like to view the worship service through Facebook, please click here to go to the St. John’s Kingston Facebook page where you can view the video.  The video will begin approximately 15 minutes before we begin.

     

    And please don’t forget to donate to the Deacon Bonsteel Community Advocacy Fund. This fund will support St. John’s ongoing mission of advocating for social justice by assisting individuals with the costs of training and travel in the ministry of social justice activism and advocacy. With this fund, St. John’s is intentionally carrying forth Sue’s diaconal ministry and ensuring that it will continue.  To help us honor Deacon Sue, we hope that you will give generously to this fund.  You can send a check to the church or bring it with you to worship on June 13.  Everything that goes into our collection plate that day will go into this fund.  You may also use Paypal by clicking here.  Be sure to note: Deacon Bonsteel Community Advocacy Fund.

    See you on Sunday!

    ______________________________________________________________________

    Please Excuse the Hopeful Dust!

    Dear Ones:  It’s been a busy week here on the campus of St. John’s.  Two major projects have been started and completed and a third has just begun.

    First, the Rectory garage needed some repair.  Water had been draining off of the roof rather than flowing into the gutters, damaging the wood at the bottom of the walls.  Bob Dennison found a great contractor to work with to do the repair work and realign the gutters so the problem doesn’t return.  It was quite loud outside the Rectory for a few mornings but it’s all worth it to have this maintenance work completed.  Well done!

    Second, as we announced on Sunday last week, Radio Kingston asked us to work with Central Hudson to help get energy into the grid from their solar farm that sits behind the Rectory.  Central Hudson needed to lay cables underground in the sidelawn of the church (see the announcement below for a fuller description).  And, although their work was delayed by rain a few times as well as an issue with the gas line, Central Hudson has worked with us and Angel Food East to ensure that we have 100% access when we really need it.  The yard will look a bit un-yard-like for a while until the grass seed takes hold, but this project is an important one for the community of Kingston and we’ve been blessed by being a part of it.

    Finally, as we have been discussing for quite a while, the crumbling in some places along the interior walls of our sanctuary has pointed to an issue with some places around the roof.  The roof itself is just fine, but where the roof connects to various places in the building we’re seeing water leak in.  So, we’ve hired architect Marilyn Kaplan of Preservation Architecture, who has worked with Episcopal churches throughout the area to correct issues with their buildings.  Marilyn has started her work, taking measurements and pictures of the building so she can create a set of architectural drawings, and will be returning throughout the summer to continue this work.  The Vestry is excited to have begun this project after a few years of conversation.  Look for more information coming soon about this project!

    So please excuse the dust as we do some important and hopeful work, using our resources to maintain our beautiful building and offer our space to assist the larger community of Kingston at the same time.  These are hopeful actions on the part of the parish because it means that we believe in the future of St. John’s and the mission we have in this place.  Thank you!

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

     

    ____________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for
    June 13, 2021

     

    What’s going on with the sidelawn? Earlier this year, we were contacted by Radio Kingston to help with a project.  As many of you know, the radio tower behind the Rectory belongs to Radio Kingston as St. John’s sold them the land many years ago.  When the pandemic began last year, Radio Kingston started up a Community Fund to help people with needs – like utility bills and rent.  St. John’s contributed to that fund last year.  What they discovered is that most of the requests they received for help were to pay for Central Hudson bills.  By thinking outside the box, they realized that there was a more economical way to use their resources – build a solar farm on the land around the radio tower.  And so they did.  Go and check it out behind the Rectory sometime!  With this solar farm, Radio Kingston will receive credits for adding energy into the grid and then use those credits to help people in need to pay their electric bill.  What a great idea, right?  Here’s where we come in:  In order to connect the right kinds of cables, they needed to put them underground.  So, St. John’s granted an easement to Central Hudson to dig up our sidelawn and bury the cables.  It will take a few months for the grass to grow back but what a wonderful way (and easy) to share our space and resources with the larger Kingston community!  A blessing offered and a blessing received.

    The Page Turners is the St. John’s book club who meet every first Tuesday evening of the month for good discussion and good company.  All are welcome to attend.  For June 8, the book is, ‘The Midnight Library’, by Matthew Haig and the selection for July 13 is ‘Humankind, A Hopeful History,” by Rutger Bregman. Email or call Lynn Dennison for more information.

    Voices Heard: A series of panel discussions sponsored by the Reparations Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.  The legacy of the transatlantic slave trade is deeply entrenched in the structural systems and legislative actions that govern communities today. This series of panel discussions organized by the Reparations Committee for the Diocese of New York intends to broaden awareness and deepen our understanding of the pressing topics of an intractable nature of systemic racism on education, health, economics, gender, policing and the criminal justice system, the church and more that negatively impact people of African heritage. Bringing experts, community organizers, civic leaders, clergy and laity into dialogue will help to inform us and make commitments for engagement in our own communities as we prepare our cause for action in making recommendations for the task brought forth through Resolution regarding the Reparations Fund.  All panels will take place from 7:00–8:30 p.m. on Zoom.  Registration in advance is required for each individual Discussion.

    • Tuesday, June 22 – Reaching For a Better Tomorrow: The Work and Mission of Hudson Link Working For Higher Education in Prison
    • Tuesday, July 6 – The Awakening of Unwoke People: Church, Religion and State
    • Tuesday, July 20 – Rectors of Color: Examining the Missed Opportunities of Deployment

    For more information or to register:   dioceseny.org/organizer/reparations-committee

    Have an announcement?
    Please send by Wednesday at noon to
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.

  2. May 20, 2021

    Reminders for In-person Worship at St. John’s: From Rev. Michelle

    The recent announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has muddied the waters in many ways and created a problematic situation for houses of worship, especially those of us who wish to be inclusive and ensure everyone feels welcome at God’s Table.  For now we will observe all previously announced safety protocols at St. John’s.  The leadership will assess the need to continue utilizing them as we move forward and as the pandemic’s grip on us continues to lessen. 

    Sundays at 10:00 am
    Thank you in advance for observing the following guidelines for in-person worship:

    • Enter and exit through the front door if you are able to.  The ramp entrance is reserved only for those who need to use it.
    • Everyone must wear a mask over nose and mouth while in the building.
    • A 6 ft. distance must be kept by people at all times.  The sanctuary has been marked off to assist with this.
    • We will continue to have a cantor lead our singing and the congregation may sing but not at full voice.  We are not yet ready to have the choir sing together.
    • We will have Eucharist in bread only and the bread will only be handled by Rev. Michelle, including before service begins.
    • Everyone will be encouraged to leave the building immediately after worship.  People may gather outside to have conversations.  We will not have coffee hour until further notice.  NOTE: We will have food outside under tents on June 13th when we celebrate Deacon Sue’s ministry.
    • No one may enter the kitchen or the parish hall until further notice so we can reduce the traffic and continue to keep the volunteers of Angel Food East as safe as possible.
    Here is the current schedule for Worship and Programming at St. John’s:
    • Sundays at 10:00 am will be in-person only.
    • For the time being, we will hold a Sunday morning Zoom service at 8:00 am.  We will assess the need to continue later this summer.
    • Tuesday Compline at 9:00 pm and Wednesday Centering Prayer at 5:45 pm will continue as online services.
    • NEW: We are canceling Friday Morning Prayer.

    If you have questions or concerns about changes to the worship pattern, please contact Rev. Michelle.

     

    ____________________________________________________________________________

    The Incredible Ministry of the Vestry

    Dear Ones:  The Vestry of St. John’s is a deeply faithful group of people who meet most months throughout the year in order to discern how to best utilize our temporal assets to support our mission.  I’m always impressed by the wisdom and care demonstrated by these individuals and how they work together as a ministry team.

    We realize we need to communicate more with everyone at St. John’s about the Vestry’s work.  To that end, our newly installed Clerk of the Vestry, Corrina Malamas, will be providing recaps after each Vestry meeting that summarize the discussions and decisions made in the monthly meeting so please look for these in future newsletters and be sure to contact one of the Vestry members if you have any questions.  And don’t forget to thank them for their ministry!

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    For the month of May, here is the Vestry Meeting Recap:

    • In April, the Vestry voted to hire Preservation Architecture to do a full building assessment for our upcoming building project.  At the May meeting, the Vestry began putting together a team to begin planning for the capital campaign portion of this project. This also includes researching for potential grant money from the Diocese.
    • Another team was created to fully develop a rental plan for the building, and the kitchen, in particular. The goal is to begin renting the kitchen sometime this fall and develop a stream of income.
    • The vestry voted on two items. The first item was the approval of a contract with KCBL Carpentry to repair the sill plates in the rectory garage. The work is required due to deterioration along the base of the garage. The second vote was to re-join the Mid-Hudson Fuel Buying Co-Op, a group which allows us to negotiate the best possible fuel prices for the winter.
    • Finally, the Vestry is beginning the work of creating a contact tree to direct questions to designated individuals. This will include asking parishioners to volunteer, so if there’s an area you would like to cover for the contact tree, please contact Rev. Michelle at michelle.stjohnskingston@gmail.com

    _______________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for
    May 23, 2021

     

    Save the Date:  Celebrating the Ministry of Deacon Sue Bonsteel as she retires from active diaconal ministry.  Sunday, June 13 – worship at 10:00 am in the Sanctuary and afterwards, we will have a party on the lawn in her honor.  Look for an email invitation with more details this coming week!

    Summer Yardwork and Gardening Team: If you’re interested in helping keep the parish grounds looking great all summer, now’s your chance.  We’re putting together a rota of people to help with mowing, trimming, garden tending, and miscellaneous jobs.  Contact Rev. Michelle and let her know what job(s) you prefer and if you have vacation scheduled between June 1 and October 1.

    George Floyd Memorial Liturgy: May 25 marks the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, which ignited a worldwide racial reckoning. You are invited to join Episcopalians in an online liturgy of prayerful commemoration at 8:00 pm EST.  Bishops from six dioceses will lead the liturgy, including a reflection by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, a Prayer of Lament from George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, an “Act of Remembrance” from Ferguson, Missouri, and prayers from Washington, DC.  You are invited to participate virtually with prayers and postings on social media in conjunction with the service.
    For more information: Commemoration of George Floyd – Episcopal News Service

    Organ Recitals Featuring Terry Earles: Old Dutch Church in uptown Kingston has refurbished their organ and has asked our Director of Music to help celebrate by offering his ministry of musicianship.  On May 30 at 3:00 pm, Terry will perform in honor of Mary Mine.  And on June 5 at 12:00 noon Terry will perform as a part of the Old Dutch Fine Arts Program.

    Forward Day by Day The new devotional books are here to support your daily prayer and reflection for the months of May, June, and July.  Available in both pocket-sized and large print.  You can pick them up in the sanctuary next to the bulletins or email Rev. Michelle at michelle.stjohnskingston@gmail.com to receive one.

    Flower Memorial Dates Available!  The dates are April 25th, July 18th, September 6th and October 31.  If you’d like to have a date to honor someone, you can contact Elaine Lawrence at 845-532-6585 or by email at eslawrenc@aol.com.

    The Page Turners is the St. John’s book club who meet every first Tuesday evening of the month for good discussion and good company.  All are welcome to attend.  For June 8, the book is, ‘The Midnight Library’, by Matthew Haig and the selection for July 13 is ‘Humankind, A Hopeful History,” by Rutger Bregman. Email or call Lynn Dennison for more information.

    Voices Heard: A series of panel discussions sponsored by the Reparations Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.  The legacy of the transatlantic slave trade is deeply entrenched in the structural systems and legislative actions that govern communities today. This series of panel discussions organized by the Reparations Committee for the Diocese of New York intends to broaden awareness and deepen our understanding of the pressing topics of an intractable nature of systemic racism on education, health, economics, gender, policing and the criminal justice system, the church and more that negatively impact people of African heritage. Bringing experts, community organizers, civic leaders, clergy and laity into dialogue will help to inform us and make commitments for engagement in our own communities as we prepare our cause for action in making recommendations for the task brought forth through Resolution regarding the Reparations Fund.  All panels will take place from 7:00–8:30 p.m. on Zoom.  Registration in advance is required for each individual Discussion.

    • Tuesday, May 25 – Educational Opportunity Denied: The Legacy of Segregated Housing
    • Tuesday, June 8 – Medical Apartheid and Systemic Racism
    • Tuesday, June 22 – Reaching For a Better Tomorrow: The Work and Mission of Hudson Link Working For Higher Education in Prison
    • Tuesday, July 6 – The Awakening of Unwoke People: Church, Religion and State
    • Tuesday, July 20 – Rectors of Color: Examining the Missed Opportunities of Deployment

    For more information or to register:   Webinar ~ Voices Heard: A Diocese Explores Pathways Toward Reparations – “Educational Opportunity Denied: The Legacy of Segregated Housing” (dioceseny.org)

  3. May 14, 2021

    New Worship Pattern Announced – We’re back in the building on Sundays!

    For 14 months, we have waited for the day when it was deemed safe to return to in-person worship.  St. John’s is excited to announce that on May 23, when we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, the following change to our worship pattern will take place.  Please read below for all the details.

    • Sundays at 10:00 will be in-person only.
    • A Sunday Zoom-only worship service will be scheduled for those who need to remain on Zoom.  The exact time of this service will be announced by Friday, May 21.
    • All weekday services will continue online-only for now – Tuesday Compline, Wednesday Centering Prayer, and Friday Morning Prayer.

    Sundays at 10:00 am
    This will be a full Eucharistic in-person worship service in the St. John’s Sanctuary, observing all safety protocols.  We will NOT be broadcasting this service online in any way.  You may wish to review the Space Use Guidelines for St. John’s: COVID-19 Response – St. John’s Kingston (stjohnskingston.org).  Following are some important bullet points:

      • Please enter and exit through the front door if you are able to.  The ramp entrance is reserved only for those who need to use it.
      • Everyone must wear a mask over nose and mouth while in the building.
      • A 6 ft. distance must be kept by people at all times.  The sanctuary has been marked off to assist with this.
      • We will continue to have a cantor lead our singing and the congregation may sing but not at full voice.  We are not yet ready to have the choir sing together.
      • We will have Eucharist in bread only and the bread will only be handled by Rev. Michelle, including before service begins.
      • Everyone will be encouraged to leave the building immediately after worship.  People may gather outside to have conversations.  We will not have coffee hour until further notice.  NOTE: We will have food outside under tents on June 13th when we celebrate Deacon Sue’s ministry.
      • No one may enter the kitchen or the parish hall until further notice so we can reduce the traffic and continue to keep the volunteers of Angel Food East as safe as possible.

    Sundays Zoom-only
    Zoom worship will be offered for those who still need to worship online for whatever reason.  We are still deciding the exact time.  This second service will be provided until the end of the summer at which time we will reassess the need for its continuance.  NOTE: The one caveat to this is on June 13th when there will be one worship service at 10:00 am to celebrate Deacon Sue’s ministry and her final Sunday as the deacon of St. John’s.  We will broadcast this service via Zoom for those who cannot attend in person.  If you intend to worship via Zoom, please use this link to help us decide if this service should be held at 8:00 am or 11:30 am: 2021 Summer Zoom Worship – Vote here – St. John’s Kingston (stjohnskingston.org)

    Weekday Services
    Throughout the pandemic, the weekday services have been an important way to help members of our community stay connected.  We added Compline on Tuesday nights at 9:00 pm and Morning Prayer on Fridays at 8:15 am.  For now, these will continue.

    We’ve had a group meet for Centering Prayer since 2018 and when the pandemic hit, we moved this service online.  Throughout these 14 months, the community that has been formed by this service is a dispersed group – Arizona, Maryland, different parts of New York, and sometimes Ohio.  So, we will continue Centering Prayer as an online-only service.

    If you have questions or concerns about changes to the worship pattern, please contact Rev. Michelle.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Returning to the Building: Re-membering the Body of Christ

    Dear Ones:  It was the first week of March 2020 when we began to understand the full impact of what was coming as covid-19 spread with alarming speed across our country and as our region became a center of the outbreak.  Within a week, our bishop Andy Dietsche ordered us to cease in-person worship and we, along with so many other congregations all over the world, began to worship in new ways.

    First, allow me to say that I’m so grateful and deeply moved by how our community of St. John’s adapted to worshipping on Zoom, especially as we experienced “technical difficulties” along the way.  Really, thank you for making the journey.  I’m also aware that, for many of us, “zoom worship” was not a viable option for many different reasons.  And I completely understand.  For me, personally, Zoom has been an extremely helpful and necessary support in a deep time of need, but it cannot ever really replace in-person worship.

    So, as I announced in my sermon this past Sunday, it is time to come back.  It’s time to renew our community by re-membering ourselves as the Body of Christ.  It’s been 14 months now, and I’m really looking forward to being with you in person!  We will be in-person for Eucharist every Sunday at 10:00 in the St. John’s sanctuary.  Please read the notes on safety protocols above.  And, because we know that some people will feel a need to stay on Zoom, we will offer a second Sunday service (time TBA) through the summer.

    Why not a hybrid service?  When the leadership of St. John’s discussed this change, we also discussed the possibility of a hybrid service (broadcasting the in-person worship via Zoom/Facebook).  Here’s why we decided that, for our community, hybrid worship is not a viable option:  We tried it in the fall for several weeks and it never worked well.  And, as so many other congregations are learning, in order to offer a good experience of hybrid worship, we would need more financial, technical, and human resources than St. John’s feels called to allocate for this undertaking.  Instead, we believe we are called to focus our resources on the repairs we need to make to our building, the changes we are called to bring about as we make our space more accessible, and on actively reaching out to the large number of people who moved to Kingston during the pandemic.

    I know the thought of being in-person brings with it some sense of uncertainty and anxiety, even if you are looking forward to it.  It’s perfectly natural to feel this way and please know that I’m feeling it too.  If you’d like to talk about this, please contact me.  My door is open.

    For this week, let us give thanks for this amazing tool called Zoom that has given us a way to be together while we are apart, and to all those who have made worshipping over Zoom possible and sometimes even enjoyable.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for May 16, 2021

    THIS SUNDAY: The Pastoral Care Team meets after worship at 12:00 noon via Zoom.  See the bulletin for the link to join.

    NEXT WEEK: Beginning on May 23 at 10:00 am, the Feast of Pentecost, we will be in-person only.  Join us in the sanctuary for worship as our 10:00 worship will not be broadcast on Zoom or Facebook any longer.  If you need to continue worshipping online, look for an announcement this coming week for a separate Sunday morning Zoom service, exact time TBA.  Questions?  Contact Rev. Michelle.

    Save the Date:  Celebrating the Ministry of Deacon Sue Bonsteel as she retires from active diaconal ministry.  Sunday, June 13 – worship at 10:00 am in the Sanctuary and afterwards, we will have a party on the lawn in her honor.  Look for an email invitation with more details this coming week!

    Organ Recitals Featuring Terry Earles: Old Dutch Church in uptown Kingston has refurbished their organ and has asked our Director of Music to help celebrate by offering his ministry of musicianship.  On May 30 at 3:00 pm, Terry will perform in honor of Mary Mine.  And on June 5 at 12:00 noon Terry will perform as a part of the Old Dutch Fine Arts Program.

    Forward Day by Day The new devotional books are here to support your daily prayer and reflection for the months of May, June, and July.  Available in both pocket-sized and large print.  Email Rev. Michelle to claim a copy at michelle.stjohnskingston@gmail.com

    Flower Memorial Dates Available!  The dates are April 25th, July 18th, September 6th and October 31.  If you’d like to have a date to honor someone, you can contact Elaine Lawrence at 845-532-6585 or by email at eslawrenc@aol.com.

    The Page Turners is the St. John’s book club who meet every first Tuesday evening of the month for good discussion and good company.  All are welcome to attend.  For June 8, the book is, ‘The Midnight Library’, by Matthew Haig.  Email or call Lynn Dennison for more information.

    Have an announcement for the bulletin?
    Please send by Wednesday at noon to
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.

  4. May 6, 2021

    Reflecting on 2 Decades (and then some!) of Ordained Ministry:
    A Note from Deacon Sue

    When Michelle asked if I would write a few paragraphs about my upcoming retirement on June 13, I felt my heart skip a beat. What could I possibly say after 23 years of active ministry? Except for a period of time when I served first at St. Paul’s, Poughkeepsie and then Christ the King, Stone Ridge, I have have been blessed to be “your” deacon for 19 years.

    I say this because, historically, this has not always been the case in other dioceses where deacons are assigned to other parishes every few years. But when I was ordained in 1998, the practice in the Diocese of New York allowed for a deacon to remain in their home congregation. So I have indeed been blessed to be among you for such a long time.

    While I look forward to retirement, I know that the transition from active ministry will be a challenge. Service has been my life’s work and I will miss so many aspects of church ministry. I would never have believed that I would one day be actively involved in establishing Angel Food East or a death row ministry or an active Episcopal Peace Fellowship chapter. Together we marched in Albany with our friends in the Rural & Migrant Ministry, participated as members of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty, supported Everytown for Gun Safety/Moms Demand Action, tolled our bell whenever there was an execution to bring attention to capital punishment, and worked on civil rights issues. We collected hundreds of notebooks and pens for jail inmates, donated backpacks, Christmas toys and food for Peoples Place, and supplied toys and clothing for the Darmstadt Shelter. We formed inter-generational teams that joined the annual CROP Hunger Walk and the  Relay for Life at Dietz Stadium to support the fight against cancer. And of course the parish came together for fundraisers and community events like the Summer Fair and BBQ, the Harvest Ham Dinner, and mid-winter soup sales. So many happy memories of fellowship and outreach to the community!

    So what comes next for me? First, rest and then some travel. It will be good to have time to see distant relatives and friends after the long period of covid restrictions. As for church, several of you have asked if I will be able to attend St. John’s after my retirement. No, I will be worshipping elsewhere for the next year. It will be an opportunity to visit my deacon colleagues and other congregations in the area. Roger however can remain active at St. John’s. And the good news is, when I return to St. John’s in the future, you will find me sitting right next to you in the pews.

    Finally, I am incredibly grateful to have served alongside so many wonderful lay people and members of the clergy over the years. You have supported and encouraged me and even brought me to task when I needed it. We have laughed and cried together. You have invited me into your lives and homes and that in itself is a special blessing that I have never taken for granted. Thank you, dear friends.

    Deacon Sue

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Celebrating Deacon Sue’s Ministry

    Dear Ones:  It’s been such a blessing to be leading you all in ministry alongside Deacon Sue.  She has such a generous heart and is a clear-minded colleague who offers a depth of wisdom to every conversation she’s a part of.  I will miss her regular presence more than you can imagine.  And now it’s time to celebrate her diaconal ministry of 23 years.

    On Sunday, June 13th Deacon Sue will serve as “our” deacon for the last time at St. John’s.  An official email invitation will go out to everyone on the St. John’s mailing list next week so please look for it in your email.

    Bishop Mary Glasspool will be with us on June 13 to preach and preside over worship.  Afterwards, we will have food and beverages in our tent on the lawn.  And plans are being made to create a fund in Deacon Sue’s name so that we may continue her diaconal ministry here at St. John’s.  I so look forward to when she can rejoin us after her time away and witnessing how her baptismal ministry will unfold.

    I sincerely hope everyone in the parish will make it a point to be there.  Deacon Sue has given so much of herself to St. John’s in service to Christ and I believe we all want to let her know just how much she has meant and will continue to mean to all of us.  So let us offer a blessing upon her, as she has been a blessing for us as individuals and for the entire community of St. John’s.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for May 9, 2021

    NEXT WEEK: The Pastoral Care Team meets after worship at 12:00 noon via Zoom.

    Shifting Worship Patterns: Look for an announcement this coming week from Rev. Michelle that will detail a shift in our worship pattern beginning on the Feast of Pentecost – May 23.

    Organ Recitals Featuring Terry Earles: Old Dutch Church in uptown Kingston has refurbished their organ and has asked our Director of Music to help celebrate by offering his ministry of musicianship.  On May 30 at 3:00 pm, Terry will perform in honor of Mary Mine.  And on June 5 at 12:00 noon Terry will perform as a part of the Old Dutch Fine Arts Program.

    Forward Day by Day The new devotional books are here to support your daily prayer and reflection for the months of May, June, and July.  Available in both pocket-sized and large print.  Email Rev. Michelle to claim a copy at michelle.stjohnskingston@gmail.com

    Flower Memorial Dates Available!  The dates are April 25th, July 18th, September 6th and October 31.  If you’d like to have a date to honor someone, you can contact Elaine Lawrence at 845-532-6585 or by email at eslawrenc@aol.com.

    The Page Turners is the St. John’s book club who meet every first Tuesday evening of the month for good discussion and good company.  All are welcome to attend.  For June 8, the book is, ‘The Midnight Library’, by Matthew Haig.  Email or call Lynn Dennison for more information.

    Have an announcement for the bulletin?
    Please send by Wednesday at noon to
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.

  5. April 22, 2021

    Parish Clean-up Day!

    We’ve brought winter to a close and are looking forward as spring opens us up to being outdoors once again.  It’s particularly poignant this spring after this past year of pandemic distancing.  So, it’s the perfect time to gather outside and help clean things up around the parish grounds.  This means YOU!

    Please join us this Saturday between 9 am and 12:00 noon for Parish Clean-up Day.  The weather looks to be perfect for outdoors work – a little cool and partly sunny.  If you need a ride, contact Rev. Michelle and we’ll make arrangements to get you here and get you home.

    We will be raking leaves, clearing pine cones, cleaning up the Memorial Garden, sweeping the parking lot, and more.  Jobs for everyone, including a few indoors!  Whatever time you can give is greatly appreciated.  Bring work gloves, a rake, and water. And please remember to wear a mask.

    See you Saturday morning!

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    On Hope and Justice

    Dear Ones: The entire country has been glued to the trial in which a Minneapolis police officer was charged with murder in the death of George Floyd.  As I write this, of course, the verdict has already come back – guilty on all counts.

    It’s hard to call this a celebratory moment.  There is nothing to celebrate in someone’s death and the conviction of another.  But I think there is something in this moment that we can point to as hopeful.

    Hope is found in the shift that this conviction points to, the larger movement called Black Lives Matter.  People all across this nation have been working hard to push for change and call attention to the evil perpetrated on People of Color in the name of “justice.”  This shift is monumental and this conviction is not the end.  It’s a marker, a signpost, that tells us all that systemic change is possible.

    With every cell of my being, I believe that Christ lives in the Black Lives Matter movement and that, if we stay true to this course, actual and real justice will “roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24).  For justice is not about revenge and punishment.  Rather, “justice is what love looks like in public.” (Cornel West, theologian).

    Let us pray that God continues to give us the strength and the wisdom to continue this work and the courage to move even more deeply into the call for God’s justice.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for April 25, 2021

    Forward Day by Day The new devotional books are here to support your daily prayer and reflection for the months of May, June, and July.  Available in both pocket-sized and large print.  Email Rev. Michelle to claim a copy at michelle.stjohnskingston@gmail.com

    Flower Memorial Dates Available!  The dates are April 25th, July 18th, September 6th and October 31.  If you’d like to have a date to honor someone, you can contact Elaine Lawrence at 845-532-6585 or by email at eslawrenc@aol.com.

    The Page Turners is the St. John’s book club who meet every first Tuesday evening of the month for good discussion and good company.  All are welcome to attend.  For May 4, we are reading ‘American Dirt’, by Jeanine Cummins.  For June 8, the book is, ‘The Midnight Library’, by Matthew Haig.  Email or call Lynn Dennison for more information.

    Have an announcement for the bulletin?
    Please send by Wednesday at noon to
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.

  6. March 27, 2021

    Holy Week at St. John’s

    As Christians, the story of Holy Week is of primary importance in understanding our relationship with God and one another because it prepares us for Easter and the Feast of the Resurrection.  The only other celebration to receive such emphasis in our tradition is Christmas.

    The balance of both narratives is vital to our Christian faith:  Christmas, or the Feast of the Incarnation, re-minds us of our deeply holy nature, knit together to be God’s own creation in the world.  While the Resurrection re-members us as a body, calling us into deeper relationship with one another, to share the Love that is Christ with the entire world, as the Body of Christ.

    The Paschal (Easter) Triduum is one continuous liturgy held over the course of 3 days whose purpose is to help us experience this deeply moving story of our faith in ways that inspire our hearts to continue to open to its truth – that violence is never the last word.  Love is.  God’s Love is always and forever the Christ who tramples death and raises us from our worldly graves and tombs of fear and hatred.

    Especially this year, after this time of great stress in our society and the devastation and grief caused by a global pandemic, our participation in this 3-day liturgy will be particularly meaningful.  As a community, we engage in a movement that begins with the theme of love and service, leads us through desolation and fear, until we finally arrive in the hope of God’s salvation.  This movement is so important for us to recall because it’s so easy to get lost in fear and anxiety.  This 3-part liturgy is designed to deepen our faith and strengthen us for our path.

    Maundy Thursday: April 1 at 6:00 pm.  We honor the last supper by focusing on the themes of service and love, ending with the Stripping of the Altar.

    The Watch in the Garden of Gethsemane is long-standing tradition at St. John’s where people are invited to keep vigil in the Garden along with Jesus in his last hours.  You can log on at any time after the end of the Maundy Thursday service up until 12:00 midnight to sit in contemplation.  Meditations are available where you find the Zoom links.

    Good Friday: April 2 at 1:00 pm.  We reflect on the devastation wrought in this world through human sin.

    The Great Vigil of Easter: April 3 at 8:00 pm.  We listen to the great stories of God’s salvation from scripture and awaken to the love that is Christ present in the world.

    Easter Sunday Festival Worship: April 4 at 10:00 am.  This year’s presider and preacher is the Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool.

    All services will be held over Zoom and broadcast onto Facebook.
    Go to: stjohnskingston.org/online-streaming-worship for the Zoom links.
    Rooms will open 20 minutes prior to worship.

    A note regarding bulletins:
    Those who signed-up for Holy Week Bags will have received a booklet for the Pascal Triduum, but will need to download the Sunday bulletins for both Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.
    For those who did NOT sign up for Holy Week Bags, separate bulletins will be available for download for each Triduum service on the website.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Returning and Gratitude

    Dear Ones:  I’m so humbled and grateful for your prayers, love, and support over the past few weeks while Ana and I “encountered” this death-dealing virus called covid.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Beautiful cards coming in the mail.  Food dropped off at our door.  Flowers and “get well” balloons arriving.  And all the prayers flooding us – both Ana and I could feel we were being prayed for.  Thank you, my beloved friends, from both of us.

    Ana has been home now a couple of days.  She was in the hospital a total of 10 days so her rehabilitation will be long as she gets used to using her muscles and joints again and rebuilds her endurance.  But we’re getting everything straightened out and, although it’s hard for her to see it sometimes, she really is getting better every day.

    I am getting better too, although my doctor yelled at me for doing laundry last week because she thought it was too strenuous.  Turns out she was right.  I get tired very easily… and that’s NOT an easy thing for me to admit to.  So, I’ve reduced my hours and my workload as I tend to both Ana and myself in our recovery.

    Thankfully, the Rev. Canon Jeanne Person, from the diocesan staff has agreed to be with us for Holy Week.  She will be preaching and presiding this Sunday for our Palm Sunday celebration.  As many of you know, I was on a diocesan staff before coming to St. John’s and it was always very meaningful when I could walk through Holy Week with one congregation.  So, I’m pleased to welcome Canon Jeanne to St. John’s to help us celebrate.  I know it means as much to her as it does to us that she is with us.

    I will be joining you all again in worship beginning on Maundy Thursday and will share preaching and presiding responsibilities with Canon Jeanne for the Pascal Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil).  And then we will have Bp. Mary Glasspool with us (via Zoom) for Easter Sunday.  What a gift!  And such loving support from our diocese as I recover from this horrible virus.

    Finally, I cannot thank our leadership enough for making sure things kept moving – Lynn Dennison and Claudette Ford, our Wardens… for everything.  Cathe Decker and Cathy Whittaker, who have been leading our weekday services.  The Rev. Alison Quin for preaching and presiding last week.  Terry Earles for being flexible and pastoral in his service to you all.  Laura Ricci, Cathe Decker and our Vestry members for leading in various ways. And, as always, Deacon Sue who jumped in the deep end to keep everyone connected and has pulled together a group of people to produce some truly beautiful Holy Week Bags!

    We will be getting back to “normal” (whatever that means in a pandemic) during the Easter Season as I slowly resume my duties.

    Again, thank you all so much for your prayers, your support, and your love.  Hope remains and Love is always the last word.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for March 28, 2021

    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 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: radennison@aol.com

    Holy Week Schedule of Services

    • Palm Sunday: March 28 at 10:00 am.  The Rev. Canon Jeanne Person preaching and presiding.
    • The Pascal Triduum – The Rev. Michelle Meech and the Rev. Canon Jeanne Person will share preaching and presiding duties for this 3-day liturgy.
      • Maundy Thursday: April 1 at 6:00 pm
                  “Vigil in Gethsemane” held online until 12:00 midnight
      • Good Friday: April 2 at 1:00 pm
      • The Great Vigil of Easter at 8:00 pm
    • Easter Sunday: April 4 at 10:00 am.  The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool preaching and presiding.  Rev. Michelle will be in attendance.

     

    Have an announcement for the bulletin?
    Please send by Wednesday at noon to
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.

  7. March 5, 2021

    The St. John’s Prayer Chain

    Being a member of a Prayer Chain is a sacred and life-giving ministry.  As Christians, we are all called to pray for one another and members of a Prayer Chain are those who keep prayers going when so many of us get distracted.  They keep us all connected to one another through a belief in prayer as that connection.  Intercessory prayer is an active response to the life of the community and is a reminder to us that God is the ground of our being.

    Different people use different bodily positions for prayer—always using what helps them to feel centered, whether that be kneeling or sitting, standing or walking.  Some light a candle or handle beads or wear a prayer shawl.  Because we’re often so distracted, some people find it helpful to focus their concentration before they begin to pray – perhaps closing their eyes or taking long, slow, deep breaths.

    But always, the most important thing about prayer is to begin with an orientation of gratitude.  Because it is to God we pray, our creator and the ground of our being, an orientation of gratitude brings us into a deeper awareness of the gift of life itself and, therefore, just how precious and mysterious we all are.

    So if you’d like to join the St. John’s Prayer Chain, please contact the Prayer Chain Moderator, Cathe Decker.  She will add you to the list of people who receive Prayer Chain requests.  You can email her at: stjohnsprayerchain9@gmail.com.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    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.

    This is a repeat of the note from last week because, even though the vaccine is becoming more widely available, there is still a great deal of anxiety and “not knowing” as we start to look at the end of this time of confinement and restriction and fear.  Trusting our public spaces again is going to be challenging and we’re all still going through so much from the economic fallout personal losses.

    Support groups bring together individuals who are facing similar issues, whether that be an illness, relationship problem, or major life changes. Members of support groups often share their experiences and advice. It can be helpful just getting to talk with other people who are in the same situation.

    The Mental Health Association of Ulster County offers a variety of free support groups. These groups are free and open to everyone in the community. Currently we have a variety of open drop-in groups as well as Anger Management Classes, and Eating Disorder Support Groups.

    That’s not all!  The MHA has many other resources to support all of us including recovery and wellness services.  Please visit their site to learn more about all the programs the MHA has to offer.  Click here to learn more.

    ________________________________________________________________________

    Downtime

    Dear Ones:  A post came across my Facebook feed from 5 years ago.  It was a picture of the front of the monthly St. John’s newsletter we used to have in which I wrote a short note to you all as I was packing up my things in Michigan so I could come and be your priest here at St. John’s.  In it, I spoke of the need for rest during transition.  When I read it I thought, “I’m wiser than I remember being!”  What a gift it’s been to read this again.

    First, just let me say that it’s hard to believe that it’s already been 5 years!  Thank you for calling me to be among you and lead us as a congregation.  I have learned so much from you all and look forward to finding out what God has in store for us in the coming years.

    Second, I’ve decided to follow my own advice and take some rest – a full week of downtime, a retreat of sorts.  The past two years have been an emotional rollercoaster for me – getting married to one of the most amazing people on the planet in October of 2018 and then my brother Marc dying of suicide just a few months later in February 2019.  The following summer Ana and I helped my mother move from her home of 30 years, I endured a truly spectacular case of poison ivy (I now know EXACTLY what that plant looks like!), and I had my gall bladder removed.  Then, as we all know, the pandemic hit us a year ago in March 2020 causing us to figure out new ways of being together and maintaining a sense of community.  And, now, my sweet dog Bella is in gradual decline and caring for her has become very physical.  In all of this, I’ve been aware of your care of and love for me – through prayers and notes and other small gifts of affection.  Thank you!

    The experience of being your priest has been one of gratitude and joy.  But leading a congregation is a lot of responsibility and has many emotional ups and downs as I celebrate and grieve with each of you.  I’ve been fortunate to have excellent people in leadership to assist in these years – Wardens, Vestry, Staff.   Really, I’m so grateful for you all.

    So, in all the things that I’ve needed to attend to, I’ve never actually afforded myself the time and space to grieve Marc’s death.  Now, I would be foolish to think that grief is something you can simply “take care of” in a week’s time.  Everyone’s grief has its own path and its own schedule.  But next week, I will devote my time and resources to the part of myself that just misses my brother – to give myself the space to reflect on who he was and who he continues to be in my heart, and to allow myself to really think about how his death has had an impact on my family.  And to find a way to begin to bring some closure, if possible, to all the feelings that arise when someone you love has died of suicide.

    So, I will be out of touch next week – from Monday, March 8 returning to work on Tuesday, March 16.  Aside from Wednesday Open Prayer and Friday Morning Bible Study, the full schedule of prayer and worship services will continue.  And if you need anything, please reach out to Deacon Sue, or one of our wardens – Lynn Dennison or Claudette Ford.

    I will appreciate your prayers this coming week, if you would.  But please do not email or text me with them.  I know God will be with me as I do this work.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for March 7, 2021

    THIS SUNDAY!  Pastoral Care Meeting  Join us after communion at 12:30.  All are welcome.  Click here to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/768878535

    Do you have “candle cups?”  You know, the white plastic cups that hold our candles at Christmas Eve?  They were a part of the Advent Worship Boxes this year.  We’d love to make sure they make it back to the Altar Guild’s closet.  So, if you have one (or more!) bring them by the Rectory and leave them in the mailbox by the door.  Or, bring them with you when you pick up your Holy Week Bags later in March.

    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 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: radennison@aol.com

    Holy Week Bags!  Yes, we’ve already begun to plan Holy Week.  If you would like to have a bag of worship items to help you celebrate Holy Week at home (including printed bulletins!), please use this link to fill out the form ASAP.  Be sure to sign up before Wednesday, March 24.  Holy Week Bags Sign-up – St. John’s Kingston

    Lenten Fun and Games: Lent Madness
    What?!  But Lent is supposed to be solemn and serious!  Well 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: Lent Madness

    Have an announcement for the bulletin?
    Please send by Wednesday at noon to
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.

  8. February 25, 2021

    Vaccine Town Hall and Updates

    Those who have been following the news about the COVID-19 vaccine, know that a big issue has been one of supply.  There hasn’t been enough to meet the demand. The good news is that vaccine production has increased and the newest one, developed by Johnson & Johnson, is a one-dose version.  Many of you are aware that St. John’s has been trying to get a Vaccine Clinic to take place at our church for the past several weeks. Rev. Michelle is working with an independent pharmacist who reached out to various houses of faith in Ulster County.  We hope to announce a scheduled clinic sometime in March so pay attention to your emails.

    In the meantime, please offer prayers for those who are in need of the vaccine but, because of lack of access to the internet or the skill to use a computer, are unable to obtain an appointment.  As with so many things in our society, the distribution of the vaccine is occurring in an inequitable way, the most vulnerable being communities of color.

    You’re encouraged to participate in a “town hall” meeting with the people of WMCHealth. In partnership with the Kingston Interfaith Council, WMCHealth is offering a COVID-19 Vaccine Community Conversation on Wednesday, March 3 from 7:30-8:30 pm via Zoom to increase awareness and answer questions from the community. Speakers include Jane Ulrich, Senior Director of Nursing, HealthAlliance Hospitals, Marc Tack, MD, Director of Infectious Diseases, Health Alliance Hospitals, and Mecca Mitchell, Senior Vice President Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement, WMCHealth.

    Click this link to join the Zoom Community Conversation on Wed, March 3 at 7:30 pm.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    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.

    Support groups bring together individuals who are facing similar issues, whether that be an illness, relationship problem, or major life changes. Members of support groups often share their experiences and advice. It can be helpful just getting to talk with other people who are in the same situation.

    The Mental Health Association of Ulster County offers a variety of free support groups. These groups are free and open to everyone in the community. Currently we have a variety of open drop-in groups as well as Anger Management Classes, and Eating Disorder Support Groups.

    That’s not all!  The MHA has many other resources to support all of us including recovery and wellness services.  Please visit their site to learn more about all the programs the MHA has to offer.  Click here to learn more.

    ________________________________________________________________________

    Sowing Hope

    Dear Ones:  I know that so many of you followed along when I posted photo updates about our garden on Facebook and Instagram last year.  I often started with the phrase “Today in the Rectory Garden…”  I found it to be such a joyful practice to share these updates with everyone.

    The garden became a true haven and space of daily retreat for me last year when the pandemic kept us all locked in place over the spring and summer.  I began to realize how a garden can be such a radical act of hope in the midst of a despairing and difficult situation.  Because to sow a seed, to take the time and effort to put soil in a pot, place a seed in its nurturing womb, and  then water it and keep it in the light… all of this is to expect that something will arise.  Sowing a seed is an endeavor that reveals our hope.  An act that anticipates gratitude and beauty and awe.

    Ana and I sowed snapdragon seeds this past week.  And next week, we’re starting on tomatoes and peppers.  Every week, a new set of seeds.  A new act of hope.

    The prospect of planting seeds can be intimidating to some.  It was to me last year.  But I invite you to consider joining me this year.  There is still plenty of time to get seeds started and not all have to be sown indoors in our climate.  Regardless of what kind of plant it is, the bursting forth of a sprout from a seed is a profound expression of God’s abundant love for us.  So, to be the one to plant that seed is to offer evidence of one’s belief that the God of Life’s promise continues, even in difficult times.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for February 28, 2021

    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.

    COVID 19 Vaccine Town Hall – Join in an online community conversation with experts from the Westchester Medical Center to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine.  Wednesday, March 3 at 7:30 pm.  Sponsored by the Kingston Interfaith Council.  Click here to join: https://zoom.us/j/92916164426?pwd=Nm13UTJPbSt2T0FvVEJhcGZYZ1pMdz09 (Password: Sxx12Y) or call in: 646-558-8656 (Meeting ID: 929 1616 4426)

    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.  Each day during Lent, two saints are pitted against one another in a contest for YOUR vote.  The winning saint goes on to the next round of competition until one saint emerges at the end of the season wearing the Golden Halo.  To vote, go to: Lent Madness.  You can sign up to receive daily emails or go visit the website each day.  Join in and have some fun with thousands of other Episcopalians across the country.

    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: radennison@aol.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: stjohnsprayerchain9@gmail.com.

    Holy Week Bags!  Yes, we’ve already begun to plan Holy Week.  If you would like to have a bag of worship items to help you celebrate Holy Week at home (including printed bulletins!), please use this link to fill out the form ASAP.  Be sure to sign up before Wednesday, March 24.  Holy Week Bags Sign-up – 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 
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.

  9. February 18, 2021

    Lent Madness!

    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?

    Sign up for emails here so you don’t miss a vote and stay tuned for fun Lent Madness update videos on our Facebook Page!

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    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.

    Click here to explore this tool.

    ________________________________________________

    _______________________________

    Everyday Sabbath

    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: radennison@aol.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: stjohnsprayerchain9@gmail.com.

    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 
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.

  10. February 11, 2021

    The Season of Lent: Lenten Practices at St. John’s

    “Come, come whoever you are. Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come.    – Jalaluddin Rumi (13th century Persian mystic and poet)

    The season of Lent is our time, as Christians, to return; to practice and reflect on the ways in which we have strayed a bit from living fully into God’s Love.  We begin with Ash Wednesday as we are invited to the observance of a holy Lent and to rend our hearts, beginning the spiritual work of unburdening ourselves from the concerns we carry and that keep us from love.  Lent begins on Wednesday, February 17 and ends with our celebration of Easter in early April.

    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.  This reminds us that it’s not always personal mistakes or “sin” that get in the way of God’s Love, but sometimes it’s simply the pain of being in the world during very difficult times or in very difficult situations.  So, our Lenten practices this year will be focused less on fasting or personal development and more on the invitation to lighten our load.

    Ash Wednesday Services:  We will have our Ash Wednesday prayer services over Zoom at 12:15 pm and 7:00 pm.  Due to the pandemic, there will be no imposition or distribution of ashes so that we can focus on the intent of this holy day which is the invitation to a holy Lent by bringing all that is on our hearts to God.  Click here for the bulletin and the link.

    Ash Wednesday Prayer Fire:  This year, for our community outreach, instead of Ashes-to-Go, we will offer a Prayer Fire on the front lawn of St. John’s from 4:00 – 6:30 pm.  Those who desire, may stop for a few moments and offer up to God the burdens they are carrying on their heart.  Rev. Michelle will be present to hold the space of prayer and tend to the fire.  All are welcome.

    Lenten Worship: Our Lenten worship is always marked by a sense of solemnity as we remove “Alleluias” from our worship and the addition of silence to allow for reflection and contemplation.  It’s challenging sometimes to allow for silence, especially over Zoom, but you’ll notice a significant effort to support silent prayer and reflection with more space between each element of our worship.

    Lenten Questions:  To support the practice of silence, we will shift our focus after worship and offer a quieter space. For the season of Lent, instead of “virtual coffee hour,” we will have a light-hearted Lenten Reflection Question each week to practice listening deeply and giving space for all to participate.

    Lenten Fun and Games: We have always enjoyed coming together for St. John’s Game Night during the winter.  In lieu of this, we’re inviting everyone to join in a season-long game called Lent Madness.  Each day during Lent, two saints of the church “face off” in a competition for our vote.  We learn the stories of these saints and cast our vote, along with others across the country, until one saint wins the “Golden Halo.”  Each week, Rev. Michelle will offer a video recap with special guest commentators.  In order to receive emails and be able to vote, visit the Lent Madness website here.

    Questions?  Please contact Rev. Michelle at michelle.stjohnskingston@gmail.com

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    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.

    One way of tending to our own light is to spend time listening to how young people are learning to tend to their own light.

    Grace Year is a program supported and developed by Grace Episcopal Church in Millbrook, NY in which students at Vassar are invited to spend a year away from their studies to learn while living in intentional community with other young people and serving in various social or justice programs in the region.  One of our regular supply priests, the Rev. Alison Quin, works with these young people as their program director.  And, this year, we have a Grace Year fellow named Dardan Ukaj doing his service work with Angel Food East while he also develops a communications plan for St. John’s.

    All of the fellows are doing a fundraiser for Grace Year this coming Sunday – a Valentine’s Day Concert.  And you’re invited!  Of course, we cannot be in the same physical space so this concert will be held over Zoom.  Join us on Sunday, February 14 from 7:00-8:00 for this concert to benefit this wonderful program.  Click here for tickets.

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    Vacations, Retreats, and Rest

    Dear Ones:  A few weeks ago, I wrote to you that I was reading a new book called Sacred Rest.  I’ve been reading through the first couple of chapters and Dr. Dalton-Smith has a list of rest solutions that do not work.  I was surprised to see that “vacations” are on the list of things that do not provide the rest we think they do.

    But when I think about it, I realize the truth of this.  Often times, vacations require a lot from us – making arrangements, getting from one place to another, packing, unpacking, being in an unfamiliar space.  This is especially true when we’re visiting family.

    Still, there is something to be said for being away from our day-to-day lives and removing the typical responsibilities we carry.  We know from scripture that Jesus would spend time away from the disciples to be in prayer, for example.  While being on retreat is not the same thing as being on vacation, what is true is that being “away” enables us to gain some perspective.  It quiets the noise of our lives and provides some sense of rest from what can bring us anxiety in our daily lives, helping us to approach our lives with more gratitude and focus.

    But in the midst of this pandemic, especially during the winter months, this is extremely challenging.  Sometimes, I realize that I’m so focused on what life will be like “when this is all over,” imagining where I’ll be able to go that I cannot go now, that I’m not paying attention to what’s happening right in front of me.  But I also have to acknowledge just how difficult all this is.  We have coping mechanisms for a reason, because there are times (like these) in which we find ourselves using them, even despite our best efforts not too.

    So, perhaps the most important thing I’m coming to, as I reflect on rest, is an invitation to rest from self-judgment.  Not always easy.  But let us begin our journey into Lent with as much compassion for ourselves as we can.  Only then can we truly offer compassion to others.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

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    Announcements for February 14, 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

    Ash Wednesday: February 17
    Ash Wednesday Services via Zoom at 12:15 pm and 7:00 pm.  Look for link and bulletin here: Online Streaming Worship – St. John’s Kingston.  There will be no imposition or distribution of ashes due to the pandemic.

    Prayer Fire: Rend your heart – 4:00-6:30 pm
    As we begin our Lenten season, come to our Prayer Fire and rend your heart.  All are invited to come and stay for a few moments at our Prayer Fire and offer to God the burdens lying on your heart.  Park along the street or in the driveway near the front lawn.  Please wear a mask and keep your 6 ft. distance from others.  Rev. Michelle will be present between 4:00-6:30 pm tending the fire and praying along with all those who come.

     

    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.

    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

    The Page Turners meets on the first Tuesday of every month.  The book for March 2 is “Hamnet,” by Maggie O’Farrell.  Speak to Lynn Dennison for more information.  All are welcome!

    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 
    stjohnskingston@aol.com.