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

The Good News of St. John’s

  1. January 14, 2021

    Pledging at St. John’s

    Thank you to the entire community of St. John’s for your participation in the financial life of our parish through our 2020 Pledge Campaign.  We raised more in pledges than we expected to for our 2021 budget.  Although we still have a deficit and will need to rely on our investment accounts again this year, the Stewardship Committee is very pleased by the commitment from the parish.  Just about everyone sent leaves to cover our Stewardship Tree with life and color, a symbol of our commitment to Christ and to one another.

    The life of any faith community relies heavily on financial pledges made by its members and St. John’s is no different.  Our plans to open up our kitchen for rental in 2020 were put on hold, of course, due to the pandemic and the need to keep all our Angel Food East volunteers safe.  We also lost rental income in 2020 from other groups who use our parish hall.  It looks as though the pandemic will continue to alter our plans for 2021 but we have hope that, by the end of this calendar year, we will be able to open the building again.

    We’re also happy to be able to offer Paypal as an online donation option to those people who need it, as well as for those people who are just visiting St. John’s as it functions like a collection plate for now.  Two things to note about the use of Paypal:

    1. Paypal’s service is not free.  For example, a $100 donation results in a charge of $3.20.  If you are able to pay by check, please consider continuing that practice.  However, if you would like to use Paypal, consider helping to defray the cost of this service by increasing your donation by a couple of dollars.
    2. Paypal offers the ability to insert a note.  When using Paypal, please be clear as to why you’re donating so we can properly apply your donation.  This information will only be seen by our Treasurer.

    Thank you, again, to the community of St. John’s for your generosity and your commitment to our common life.

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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.

    Have you heard the expression, “Going all Zen?”  Perhaps something like this: “I was so upset and thought she would be too, but then she went all Zen on me!”

    In American popular culture, this word means “peaceful and relaxed.”  Which is interesting, considering that the Zen form of Buddhism requires rigorous self-restraint and a strict meditation practice.  It’s not a complete disconnect, however, because through restraint and meditation, one can become more emotionally detached from day-to-day pressures, resulting in more peace and more relaxation.

    One of the practices of Japanese Zen Buddhism is tending to a rock garden, where islands of rock or, sometimes, plants, are surrounded by a large area of gravel or sand.  This gravel is raked regularly and resembles the waves of the sea, while the rocks resemble islands.  Small versions of these have become popular in gift shops – to be put on desks in the office or side tables in our homes.  The idea is that spending the time to rake the gravel or sand is a very calming activity.

    There are many resources available to help you in creating your own simple “Zen garden.”  A simple Google search will give you lots of information.  You can also purchase small table-top ones for around $25.

    If having a garden doesn’t appeal to you, consider watching others creatively tend to their Zen gardens.  One such master is Yuki Kawae who creates beautiful art from raking sand and it’s utterly calming and mesmerizing to watch as he does it.  You can view his videos on You Tube by clicking here.

    Please take some time away from the news cycle, especially right now, to find places of calm and peace.

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    The Legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    Dear Ones: I can’t remember if I’ve told this story before so if I have, thank you for your patience.  Since I can remember, I have always held a definitively large place in my heart for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  He was killed 2 days before I was born and, as my mother tells it, there were resulting riots outside the St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Youngstown, OH while she was giving birth to me.  So this amazing human being has always been a part of my own story.

    As I grew up, of course, I came to learn about his leadership, the work of equality he was involved in, his deep Christian faith, and the legacy he left our nation – a legacy of hope and challenge.  That we can make a difference in how we live by changing unjust laws and ensuring that the rights of all are protected, but that we also have to be intentionally involved in creating that future together.

    Just a few months before he was killed, in November of 1967, Dr. King announced the formation of a Poor People’s Campaign.  “Seeking a ‘middle ground between riots on the one hand and timid supplications for justice on the other,’ King planned for an initial group of 2,000 poor people to descend on Washington, D.C., southern states and northern cities to meet with government officials to demand jobs, unemployment insurance, a fair minimum wage, and education for poor adults and children designed to improve their self-image and self-esteem.” (click here for the full version of this article)  Dr. King saw this as an opportunity for new “co-operation, understanding, and determination” by people from across “color lines” because he saw that economic stability is a mark of citizenship and that race and ethnicity are false determinants of differences between people.

    Decades later, the Rev. Dr. William Barber took up the call of Dr. King and pulled together Christians to re-form the Poor People’s Campaign.  It’s not a campaign about politics but about holding our elected leaders accountable to moral leadership.  The campaign meets and works together in smaller working groups to get the information out, meet with leaders, and pressure politicians into creating local, statewide, and federal policy that supports and protects the most vulnerable members of our society.  This nationwide movement is backed by the Episcopal Church, among many other faith communities.

    I hope that during this time of national upheaval, you’ll consider seriously the legacy of Dr. King whose birthday we celebrate this coming weekend.  We’ve witnessed such disgrace in our national life but, no matter how tempting it is, this is not a time to focus on the spectacle and shame of national politics.  Instead, let us pull together as people – brothers, sisters, siblings… all children-of-God, to make a change for good.

    The Poor People’s Campaign is hosting two events.  On Monday, January 18 (MLK Jr’s birthday), the PPC will host a National Interfaith Service of Light, Love, and Leadership beginning at 1:00 pm.  You may also want to join the PPC the night before on Sunday, January 17 at 8:00 pm for a Prayer for Beloved Community in the Midst of COVID and Chaos.  Both of these links will be available on the St. John’s website where you find all the worship links.

    If you’re looking for a way to truly make a difference in our national life, to bring your deepest beliefs to decisions that affect all of us, becoming a part of the Poor People’s Campaign is a positive and moral way to do it.  Click here to begin learning more.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

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    Announcements for January 17, 2021

    This Sunday! Pastoral Care Team meeting after church beginning at 12:30.  Click here to attend.  All are welcome!

    Epiphany Home Blessings!  Each year Rev. Michelle makes the rounds to offer a blessing upon your home and will gladly do so this year, although she cannot stay for a visit.  You can sign up for a Home Blessing visit from Rev. Michelle or download simple instructions on how to bless your own home.  Epiphanytide Home Blessings – St. John’s Kingston

    The Page Turners Our book for February 2nd is “Braiding Sweetgrass,” by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  Speak to Lynn Dennison for more information.  All are welcome!

    Diocesan Prayer Service:  On Wednesday, January 20, at 8:00 am the bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of New York will conduct a brief prayer service that, in these days of extreme turmoil, we may be one people before God raising a prayer for safety and well-being for our nation.  As soon as it becomes available, this link will be posted on the St. John’s website, along with the other links to worship services.

    SAVE THE DATE!  St. John’s Annual Meeting is on Sunday, January 31 via Zoom.  More information is forthcoming.  Here is this year’s slate of candidates for Vestry:

    • Lynn Dennison – Warden (2 year term)
    • Liz Moeller – Vestryperson (3 year term)
    • Nilsa Rodriguez-Jaca – Vestryperson (3 year term)
    • Sara Hutton – Vestryperson (1 year term)

    Ministry Opportunities

    Children’s New Book Drive: Family of Woodstock is in need of books for children who are in or are leaving shelters.  If you are coming to in-person church, please consider bringing a new children’s book (all ages).  Or send a donation to the church (207 Albany Ave) and we will do the shopping.  Questions? Contact Outreach Coordinator Elaine (845-532-6585) or Deacon Sue (845-331-5575).

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

  2. January 7, 2021

    Epiphanytide Home Blessings

    The door of one of Rev. Michelle’s friends after a blessing. Pine spray w/ ribbon is not included.

    When the Magi arrive at the home of God, they offer a blessing in response to the epiphany – the glorious awareness of God’s inbreaking into our world.  This is a blessing that spreads as the Magi offer the gift of this love to whomever comes to their door.  The tradition of House Blessing during Epiphanytide comes out of this Christian story and occurs all over Europe as a way to bless a home and its inhabitants for the coming year.  There are two ways to have your home blessed:

    1. Rev. Michelle will still offer this blessing (because, when has their been a more important time to have our homes blessed?) but this year, because of the pandemic, we’ll be shortening the Home Blessing a bit.  Rev. Michelle will come to your door with chalk (to mark your door) and holy water (to bless the entryway) but won’t be able to come into your home to visit.  And, if it’s not too cold, she’ll ask you to say a very short prayer with her in the doorway.  You can sign-up for an appointment here.
    2. But you may want to bless your own home.  If so, there are instructions on the website here.  All you need is a piece of chalk.

     

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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.

    Who can resist watching a cute little otter paddle around in the water?  Or the graceful beauty of a jellyfish?  How about a young giant panda rolling around on its back as it chomps on a snack?  Or the crazy antics of a penguin or a baboon?

    Animals have the distinct ability to help us reconnect with delight and calm.  They aren’t concerned about national politics and they could care less about social media.  They just are.  Moving around, eating, playing… all the simple things that all God’s creatures are capable of, including us.

    Why not devote a few minutes everyday to watching a few of our fellow creatures just be who they are?  Here’s a list of just a few locations that have live webcams.  Google “zoo aquarium webcams” to find more!  Most of them have lots of educational resources too, if you’re so inclined.

    But most important, just enjoy and let the animals be your guides.

    Monterey Bay Aquarium

    Smithsonian National Zoo

    San Diego Zoo

    Click here for zoo cams from around the world!

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    The Meaning of Epiphany

    Dear Ones: I hope you received my email on Wednesday.  In the midst of the chaotic moment we all witnessed at the U.S. Capitol building that afternoon, I found myself experiencing so many emotions, seemingly at the same time and some of them were conflicting.  As I watched posts pour out across social media, I realized I wasn’t alone.  Perhaps you had the same experience.

    And one voice rose above the cacophony of posts – an African-American woman who teaches the Hebrew Scriptures at a seminary and is an Episcopal priest.  She said, “Go, check on your people.”  I’m so grateful to her for that clarity, for her ability to channel God, because it reminded me to send that email and to invite you all to prayer.  And so we had a special Compline service that night.  I was glad to see so many people attend in the Zoom room and on Facebook.

    I’m not the only person to recognize the timing – that incursion into the U.S. Capitol building took place on the Feast of the Epiphany.  Because it is and should be exactly that – an epiphany for so many of us that have remained in various states of unconscious about what’s happening in our nation.

    It is a singular event, to be sure.  And it’s so easy to blame a person or one of the political parties.  But I want to remind us all that to do so, to look for a scapegoat, regardless of how deplorable we believe them to be, is an exercise in futility that offers nothing except some sense of false relief.  Finding a Judas is easy and it still bears no fruit.  Love is still sacrificed even when we find a person to blame.  The truth is, the systems and policies of this nation, of our society, are ultimately responsible for this.  Yes, there are individuals who need to be held accountable for specific acts.  But that does not purge the disease from our collective blood.

    The disease is white supremacy.  And, even if we believe we are good people – because each member of St. John’s IS a good person and I love each of you, as does God – of this I am absolutely certain.  But even if we know this to be true about ourselves, that doesn’t mean we are not unconscious about how the system of white supremacy has infected us and forced us to uphold a set of beliefs that are utterly contrary to God’s law that is written on our hearts.

    We love to talk about the Feast of the Epiphany imagining the 3 Magi crossing the desert on camels to arrive at the home of Jesus just after his birth.  We love that this Christ child is such a spectacular event that it drew the richest and the wisest to the manger to worship at the feet of Love Incarnate.  And we should love these things.  It’s a beautiful story of joy, and love, and peace.

    And the point of this story is to understand that this miraculous birth takes place in the manger of our hearts.  When we ready ourselves for the truth of love, we are readying ourselves for quite an epiphany.  Because, inherent in the gift is the blessing we are given to share.  We are given love as we learn to give love itself.

    And American theologian Cornell West reminds us, “Justice is what love looks like in public.”  This means that love is more than being a nice person. It means that we are called to continue looking beyond our own limits of understanding to learn how to see differently and work for issues of real justice.

    My dear ones, I hope the epiphany we have been given this year will open the eyes of your heart in new ways.  This is not a time for blame.  This is a time to humble ourselves at the manger and learn how love can remove this disease from our minds and hearts and lives.  This is not an easy “fix.”  This is work that we will be doing for the rest of our lives.  So, let us do so with joy and a sense of purpose, for it is the work of Christ.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for January 10, 2021

    Next Sunday, January 17: Pastoral Care Team meeting after church beginning at 12:30.  Click here to attend.  All are welcome!

    Epiphany Home Blessings!  Each year Rev. Michelle makes the rounds to offer a blessing upon your home and will gladly do so this year, although she cannot stay for a visit.  You can sign up for a Home Blessing visit from Rev. Michelle or download simple instructions on how to bless your own home.  Epiphanytide Home Blessings – St. John’s Kingston

    The Page Turners Our book for February 2nd is “Braiding Sweetgrass,” by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  Speak to Lynn Dennison for more information.  All are welcome!

    SAVE THE DATE!  St. John’s Annual Meeting is on Sunday, January 31 via Zoom.  More information is forthcoming.  Here is this year’s slate of candidates for Vestry:

    • Lynn Dennison – Warden (2 year term)
    • Liz Moeller – Vestryperson (3 year term)
    • Nilsa Rodriguez-Jaca (3 year term)
    • Sara Hutton (1 year term)

    Education for Ministry (EFM):  What is EFM?  Every baptized person is called to ministry. EFM is a program designed to support that ministry.  Participants gather in small, mentored groups where they learn more deeply about the Christian faith and how it shapes our lives.  A Tuesday evening Zoom group is being shaped among the Episcopal congregations in Ulster County that will start in January.  Space is limited so contact Teri Jones ASAP for more information at terijones@optonline.net.

    Ministry Opportunities

    Children’s New Book Drive: Family of Woodstock is in need of books for children who are in or are leaving shelters.  If you are coming to in-person church, please consider bringing a new children’s book (all ages).  Or send a donation to the church (207 Albany Ave) and we will do the shopping.  Questions? Contact Outreach Coordinator Elaine (845-532-6585) or Deacon Sue (845-331-5575).

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

  3. December 24, 2020

    Christmas Worship: What you need to know

    Thursday, December 24: The Feast of the Nativity of Jesus Christ
    7:30 pm, Music and Carols; 8:00 pm, Worship
    Click here for the Zoom link and bulletin.
    You’ll need: a candle for singing Silent Night and
    a glass of your favorite celebratory beverage to toast with us after worship.
    You’ll also be able to view this service on Facebook: facebook.com/StJohnsKingston

    Friday, December 25: Christmas Day Morning Prayer at 10:00 am
    This is a relaxed service of prayer, music, and scripture from the Rectory.
    Click here for the Zoom link and bulletin.
    You’ll also be able to view this service on Facebook: facebook.com/StJohnsKingston

    Seasonal Shifts – Christmas and Epiphany

    The Dream of the Three Wise Men by He Qi

    As the song The Twelve Days of Christmas tells us, there are actually 12 days in the season of Christmas.  Beginning on December 25 (of course) we begin our 12-day Christmas celebration.  Throughout this short season, there are several feast days to honor, which you can learn more about here:  The Lectionary Page.  This means the next season doesn’t start until January 6 – the Feast of Epiphany.

    However, because the majority of our worshipping community at St. John’s comes together on Sundays, we always move our celebration of Epiphany to the closest Sunday.  Thus, we will celebrate the Feast of Epiphany on Sunday, January 3, when we will talk about the magi traveling to Bethlehem and about the light of Christ spreading all over the world.

     

     

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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.

    Margaret Guenther writes: “True prayer, whatever outward form it might take, is first and foremost a condition of loving attentiveness to God in which we find ourselves open and receptive to who we are in our deepest selves.”

    We begin a new calendar year next week and one of the most powerful ways of entering a new year is to pray your way into it.  What are the most audacious prayers you have for this world?  This nation?  This community?  For yourself?  Perhaps prayers of true peace, or justice for all God’s creation.  Safety in the midst of the pandemic, or an end to the pandemic.

    Whatever your prayers are, why not be bold in offering them?  What do you have to lose?

    Prayer flags are one way to be audacious with your prayers.  Simple pieces of fabric attached to a rope/string – that’s all you need.  If you received a Worship Box, you received a beautiful kit for making a set with instructions.  If you didn’t receive a box, you can still make the flags.  Here are the instructions:

    Materials needed: 5 or more 6-10″ cloth squares, 4ft or more of ribbon/string/rope, markers, glue, and creative embellishments like buttons, gems, or glitter.

    • With your markers write out a prayer on each cloth square.  You can write one specific prayer, or one word like “unity” “peace” or “love” on each piece of cloth. Then decorate each square as you see fit.  Get as creative and as colorful as you’d like.
    • Next, lay the length of the ribbon flat on your surface and use glue (or a stapler in a pinch) to adhere completed squares to the ribbon.  If you sew, you can stitch your prayer flags onto the string.
    • Once the glue is dry, you can hang your prayer flag outside in a place where the wind can carry your prayers out into the world.

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    Rest

    Dear Ones: As we know, scripture tells us that God rested on the seventh day of creation after doing a boatload of work.  The Jewish people who wrote down the story of creation, understood the great importance of rest.  So much so that God herself, rested.  We call this sabbath.

    Resting isn’t a luxury, but a commandment that reminds us to take time for drinking deeply of the fruit of our labor and the gifts that God has showered upon us.  Resting brings gratitude to our hearts and slows us down long enough to remember that relationships are more important than tasks.

    I’m not good at this kind of rest, task work and to-do lists keep my mind occupied and give me a sense of purpose.  I can talk myself into thinking that the world simply cannot do without me and my tasks.  Which just means it’s all the more important for me to be intentional about sabbath.  In sabbath, there is a deeper purpose – to fill the deep well of our being so that we may be of service in this world in the ways that God needs us, not the way our egos need us.

    So, I’ll be resting this coming week after we celebrate Christmas – from Sunday, December 27 to Sunday, January 3.  It’s been a long year for us all and I’m in need of the deep rest of winter.  I’m quite sure the world will be just fine without me for a few days.  There will be no weekday programming, no Weekly Good News.  I will review my emails once a day to see if I need to take care of something and I’ll see you on Sunday, January 3 for worship when we’ll celebrate the Epiphany (moving it from January 6).

    May this tender threshold time of moving from one year to the next be one of rest and peace for you.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for December 27, 2020

    The Page Turners will meet Tuesday, January 5th to discuss, “Rules for Visiting,” by Jessica Francis Kane.  Our book for February 2nd is “Braiding Sweetgrass,” by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  Speak to Lynn Dennison for more information.  All are welcome!

    Education for Ministry (EFM):  What is EFM?  Every baptized person is called to ministry. EFM is a program designed to support that ministry.  Participants gather in small, mentored groups where they learn more deeply about the Christian faith and how it shapes our lives.  A Tuesday evening Zoom group is being shaped among the Episcopal congregations in Ulster County that will start in January.  Space is limited so contact Teri Jones ASAP for more information at terijones@optonline.net.

    Anti-Racism Workshop: The Episcopal Diocese of New York is offering another all Zoom, multi-part Anti-Racism workshop.  The workshop is open to all and those who are in positions of leadership at St. John’s are strongly encouraged to attend and be certified.  Register now because these workshops are filling very fast.  The online workshop will be conducted on Mon, Jan. 4; Thurs, Jan. 7; Mon, Jan. 11; Thurs, Jan. 14.  All sessions will be begin at 7:00 p.m. and end at 9:00 p.m.  Participants will be required to complete individual viewing and corresponding assignments before online Zoom meetings. Completion of all assignments and attendance at all meetings is required for diocesan certification.  Click here to register:  Anti-Racism Workshop (Online) (dioceseny.org)

    Ministry Opportunities

    Children’s New Book Drive: Family of Woodstock is in need of books for children who are in or are leaving shelters.  If you are coming to in-person church, please consider bringing a new children’s book (all ages).  Or send a donation to the church (207 Albany Ave) and we will do the shopping.  Questions? Contact Outreach Coordinator Elaine (845-532-6585) or Deacon Sue (845-331-5575).

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

  4. December 17, 2020

    Christmas Eve Worship

    We celebrate the Feast of the Incarnation Thursday evening, December 24 at 8:00 pm via Zoom. The service will have both pre-recorded and live portions.
    Be sure to have a candle ready to sing Silent Night via candlelight. If you’d like, pour a glass of your favorite celebratory beverage and stay for a brief reception afterwards (unfortunately the annual Rectory Christmas Eve Dessert Reception is postponed until next year).
    The Zoom room will open at 7:10 pm. Music and carols start at 7:30 pm.
    The bulletin and link will be available on the St. John’s website.

    Outreach Memorial – Supporting the Work of Angel Food East

    Angel Food East began in 1992 after a few St. John’s parishioners came together to put together a response to the AIDS/HIV epidemic.  By reaching out to those who were shunned by the larger society through the simple act of shopping for groceries for them, Angel Food East became Christ’s presence for these individuals.  And groceries became delicious prepared meals.  In response, St. John’s expanded our kitchen to accommodate the growing ministry.  And over 25 years later, this group of intrepid volunteers are still cooking and delivering meals for over 70 people every week as we’ve opened up our services to all individuals who are chronically homebound.

    Angel Food East (AFE) has a hugely successful fundraiser each year in March – the Mac-n-Cheese Bakeoff, with well-known local chefs and an amazing silent auction.  Last year, right before the pandemic hit us, AFE surpassed their goal.  And, while they hope to have a fundraiser again this coming year, it’s unknown as to what that will look like and how much they can expect to raise.  Still, Angel Food East needs to continue operating to continue caring for some of our most vulnerable neighbors.

    Our Christmas Outreach Memorial is especially important this year.  We know AFE’s fundraising will look very different in 2021 so the St. John’s Outreach Committee needs your help to make our monetary gift to this vital community program as big as possible.

    Please take the time to fill out the Christmas Outreach Memorial form in your weekly bulletin and send your payment along with it.  Drop it off at the Rectory on or before December 20.  Or, if you’re running late, send an email to Rev. Michelle so she has time to get your memorial into the Christmas Eve bulletin, and then send your payment in.  Be sure to note “Christmas Outreach” on the check.

    Thank you, in advance, for your generosity this year.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    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.

    I was watching a British television series a few weeks ago called The Spanish Princess.  It was all about Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Queen Isabella of Spain and the first wife of Henry VIII of England.  One of the most poignant scenes was a funeral for Prince Arthur, Catherine’s first husband.  The English people were stoic, refusing to show their emotion, while the two Spanish attendants of Catherine wailed and sang their pain as loudly as they could.  Arthur’s grandmother, ever aware of propriety, was disturbed and wanted them to stop.  But Arthur’s mother said, “No. Let them wail.”

    I think one of the biggest mistakes we can make is to ignore our sorrow, our grief, and our pain, even though that’s often our preference.  Doing so only gives these emotions more power over us in the end as we run towards anything we can find that will help to keep them at bay.  When we give them space, however, we soon realize that we can move through them into a deeper joy and a sense of peace.

    Especially this year, I’m thankful that my beloved Ana is working with our friends Shane and Elizabeth of the Companions of Mary the Apostle to bring this service to life and offer us the opportunity to share it with them.  I hope we’ll be able to continue offering it in future years.

    Please, my dear ones, come for this service on the longest night of the year.  By tending to our light in this way, we are preparing a space – a bigger space for ourselves to experience and live into God’s Love for us.  Rev. Michelle

    A Service of Light and Remembrance   Monday, December 21  7:00 pm
    We join with our friends down the road, the Companions of Mary the Apostle, for a special online service because, for so many of us, especially this year, Christmas can bring difficult emotions and memories.  This service will give you space for your grief and sorrow so you have room for deeper joy.  Click the service name above to enter the worship space.  The bulletin will be posted online soon.

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    Ritual

    Dear Ones:  A few moments ago I was walking back from the church building, minding my footing on the slick – but fully plowed – parking lot.  And I looked up at the Rectory.  It’s such a beautiful building.  And beautifully set on the bank of the Esopus wetlands surrounded by tall pines and big beech trees.  The first snowfall is always a bit glorious in this setting.

    This time of year, with Advent being my favorite liturgical season, I love to put electric candles in each of the Rectory’s front windows where they stay until Candlemas on February 2, the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  And each year, I have relished the ritual of placing them on the very first day of Advent and then going around the house every night to turn them on, marking the shift in light.

    But this year, my ritual has been thwarted, mostly by electric candles that won’t cooperate.  One will turn on sometimes but not other times.  I seem to have lost the necessary extension cords for another.  Still another candle WAS working but seems to not be working at all now.  And I have run out of the sticky putty that I used to use to keep them in place so they are falling over, causing me to go through bulbs at an annoying rate.  It’s all become quite comical.

    But tonight, as I crossed the slippery parking lot and saw that some of the windows didn’t have working candles, what would normally irritate me just brought a smile to my face.  I wasn’t laughing at myself, but was taking comfort in the imperfection.  I felt nourished by the realization that I’m really not in control (not the first time I’ve hit upon that wisdom and certainly not the last).  Yet, I was still taken by the quiet beauty of the building amidst the snow-covered trees, even though there are some darkened windows.

    As far as ritual goes, what seems to be most important right now, is the ritual of showing up and doing whatever it is we can, knowing that our efforts could be thwarted at any time.  Releasing our attachment to outcomes.  Just offering ourselves, honestly and vulnerably.  And taking things like electric candles in the windows a lot less seriously.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for December 20, 2020

    A Service of Light and Remembrance: Monday, December 21 at 7:00 pm.  For many of us, especially this year, the holiday season is not all joyous.  Feelings of grief and painful memories come along with the joy of Love’s birth among us.  It really helps to give space to these parts of our experience and to allow light into those places we would rather keep in the dark.  Come for a hopeful service on the longest night of the year designed to support every part of us.  Led by the Companions of Mary the Apostle (Shane Phelan and Elizabeth Broyles who have been guest priests at St. John’s) and Ana Hernandez.  The link for this service is on our website.

    Please be sure to drop off your Christmas Outreach Memorial as soon as possible.  They are due TODAY!  All monies will go to Angel Food East this year.  Simply fill out the form at the bottom of the bulletin and drop it by the Rectory.

    A big thank you from the Stewardship Committee for your financial commitment to St. John’s!   We’re still tabulating the final numbers so you still have time to drop off your leaves and pledge form at the Rectory or mail them in. 

    The Page Turners will meet Tuesday, January 5th to discuss, “Rules for Visiting,” by Jessica Francis Kane.  Our book for February 2nd is “Braiding Sweetgrass,” by Robin Wall Kimmerer.  Speak to Lynn Dennison for more information.  All are welcome!

    Education for Ministry (EFM):  What is EFM?  Every baptized person is called to ministry. EFM is a program designed to support that ministry.  Participants gather in small, mentored groups where they learn more deeply about the Christian faith and how it shapes our lives.  A Tuesday evening Zoom group is being shaped among the Episcopal congregations in Ulster County that will start in January.  Space is limited so contact Teri Jones ASAP for more information at terijones@optonline.net.

     

    Ministry Opportunities

    Children’s New Book Drive: Family of Woodstock is in need of books for children who are in or are leaving shelters.  If you are coming to in-person church, please consider bringing a new children’s book (all ages).  Or send a donation to the church (207 Albany Ave) and we will do the shopping.  Questions? Contact Outreach Coordinator Elaine (845-532-6585) or Deacon Sue (845-331-5575).

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

  5. December 10, 2020

    Christmas Eve – The Feast of the Incarnation

    In order to keep us all safe, our Christmas Eve worship service, the Feast of the Incarnation, will be celebrated virtually, online.  We’ll begin at 7:30 with a concert of music and carols and our worship will officially begin at 8:00 pm.

    While we will use our Zoom platform to be together, Rev. Michelle and the other liturgical leaders have already begun video recording different elements of the worship service so that we have a special offering, a combination of live and recorded portions, on one of our most sacred nights of the year.  We have lots of glorious music to share and we’ll be featuring different parts of our beloved sanctuary to help us all connect to our home.  The link will be posted on our Online Streaming Worship page soon.

    One of our traditions has been to sing Silent Night by candlelight.  Those of you who have received Worship Boxes, will note that you already have your candle.  For those of you who did not sign up to receive Worship Boxes, Rev. Michelle will gladly deliver a candle to you.  Please contact her directly before Dec. 23 so that you can have your candle for Christmas Eve.  Email her at michelle.stjohnskingston@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.

    Christianity isn’t the only religion to have a theological focus on light during these months.  Our Jewish siblings begin their 8-night celebration of Chanukah TONIGHT (Thursday, Dec. 10) at sundown.  While the Jewish people’s high holy days are celebrated in the fall during Rosh Hashanah, Chanukah known as the Festival of Lights, is more of a fun celebration that tells the story of a miracle – 8 nights of light from one-night’s worth of oil.  The celebration is an ancient one, beginning with the rededication of the Second Temple.  Read more here.

    This week, from Dec. 10-18, we are invited by our neighbors at Congregation Emanuel of the Hudson Valley to join with them in this joyous celebration!  You can find out more about what’s happening each night here: Chanukah – Congregation Emanuel of the Hudson Valley (cehv.org)  Rabbi Yael and her team have taken into account all safety guidelines, of course.

    Please consider participating and learning more about the Jewish tradition, especially this Friday night, December 11, as our friends at CEHV borrow the St. John’s parking lot for a Drive-in Chanukah, a short Chanukah play performed live and broadcast over the zoom phone line so that all can hear.  Please don’t attend in person so that we can make sure the limited space is given to the members of CEHV.  But you can listen in from the comfort of your home.  Here are the details:

    Between 5:45 and 6:00, dial: (929) 205-6099
    Enter meeting ID: 82025668746#
    Enter 0 upon prompt
    Enter passcode: 4385047#

    Enjoy these 8 nights as we share in the joy of this lovely season with our Jewish siblings.  Reach out to your own Jewish friends and neighbors and spend some time learning more about this sweet celebration.

    Chanukah Sameach!

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Home

    Dear Ones: Back in October, a young couple started hanging out during the day in our St. Francis Memorial Garden.  This is not unusual, the garden is a haven for many people in our neighborhood who need a quiet, protected space.  After a few days, I reached out to welcome them.  I learned that they had suddenly found themselves struggling to find housing so I offered a little monetary support and told them they were welcome here.

    To keep their story confidential, I’ll jump forward.  During the month of November, they slept in the balcony of our sanctuary off and on, about 6 nights in all, during rainy/cold nights.  I asked them to keep to the sanctuary and and trusted them to do so because they had been very respectful of both me and our space.

    I made a crucial misstep, however, in not telling our wardens Lynn Dennison and Claudette Ford of my decision.  While I know I did the right thing in providing them shelter, I regret the decision to keep it to myself.  In talking with the couple, I knew this was a very temporary situation and, I suppose, my first thoughts were to give them the space they needed to figure things out without troubling too many people.

    Lynn and Claudette are wise counselors, however, and good leaders.  Had I told them at the outset, I’m sure they would have helped me think through the implications of my decision.  Because it turns out, I completely misjudged the impact this would have on our Angel Food East team due to the pandemic (as well as a few of our parishioners who use parts of the building regularly).  I forgot that these people consider our building to be their home too.  Our intrepid AFE volunteers have been continuing to offer themselves in service during this pandemic and they learned of the presence of our guests in a way that made them feel blind-sided.  I regret this.

    So, my reflection is two-fold this week.  First, the wisest, most pastoral thing to do is to offer information that will help people make good decisions and trust that God is working to guide those decisions, especially when people are already feeling unsafe.  I didn’t trust God and, in so doing, did not respect all the people who call our building home.  Of course, the Angel Food East team continues to be committed to serving our neighbors in need in the midst of a pandemic.  And I am grateful.

    Second, we have a huge housing crisis in Kingston right now.  There is not enough affordable housing to begin with, Kingston being well below the rate of available housing deemed appropriate to avoid homelessness.  Additionally, people are being evicted and displaced, either because they are having trouble paying rent due to the joblessness brought on by the pandemic, or by rising rents due to the influx of homebuyers and weekend-renters from NYC.  Don’t get me wrong, we welcome those who are moving into Kingston!  But we’re facing a disturbance in the eco-system of our community that we must attend to.  While the moratorium on evictions in New York State can assist, some landlords are still taking action while others are locked in a holding pattern, trying to help their tenants but also needing to pay their own bills.

    While I can always learn to make better decisions (this was a big learning for me), solving the housing crisis is going to take the larger community.  I know it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of this problem, I think we need to begin considering what we can do to join with other people in Kingston who are already working on this.  Outreach is caring for those who have fallen through the safety net.  Advocacy is taking action to create just policies so that people don’t fall into the safety net to begin with.  Individually, we can choose to focus our efforts toward outreach or advocacy or both.  As a congregation, I think we can involve ourselves in both and consider what we are called to do.

    Right now, I don’t know exactly where our two guests are.  They have been out of contact with me for a couple of weeks now.  My prayers have been with them as has my hope that they have found a more permanent place to call home.  The story of Love’s birth among us could not have come at a more appropriate time because the issue of homelessness has arrived, literally, on our doorstep.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for December 13, 2020

    THIS SUNDAY!  Outreach Committee Meeting.  We meet on Zoom at 12:30, Sunday, Dec 13.  Please click to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/198694790

     A Service of Light and Remembrance: Monday, December 21 at 7:00 pm.  For many of us, especially this year, the holiday season is not all joyous.  Feelings of grief and painful memories come along with the joy of Love’s birth among us.  It really helps to give space to these parts of our experience and to allow light into those places we would rather keep in the dark.  Come for a hopeful service on the longest night of the year designed to support every part of us.  Led by the Companions of Mary the Apostle (Shane Phelan and Elizabeth Broyles who have been guest priests at St. John’s) and Ana Hernandez.  Email companionsma@gmail.com to receive the link for this service.

    A special announcement!  The Vestry of St. John’s offers profound thanks for the ministry of Jenny Allred over these past years, as the bookkeeper of St. John’s.  She has faithfully paid our bills and kept the records to assist our Treasurer and keep the Vestry apprised of our budget and balances.  Jenny completes her ministry this month as we welcome a new bookkeeper to St. John’s.  Thank you so much, Jenny, for your stewardship of our resources and your faithful ministry!

    We have begun collecting for this year’s Christmas Outreach Memorials.  All monies will go to Angel Food East this year.  Simply fill out the form at the bottom of the Sunday bulletin and either send it in or drop it off at the Rectory on or before December 20.

    Thank you to all who have pledged for 2021!  We’ll announce the final pledge number soon.  For those who haven’t been able to get your pledge in yet, no worries, we’re still taking them.  Drop off your leaves and pledge form at the Rectory or mail them in and we’ll continue putting them on the tree.  Using the theme of Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed, we’re focusing on how all of our giving – time, talent, treasure – is the seed that grows our St. John’s community.  If you did not receive a letter, please contact Lynn Dennison from the Stewardship Committee.

    Education for Ministry (EFM):  What is EFM?  Every baptized person is called to ministry. EFM is a program designed to support that ministry.  Participants gather in small, mentored groups where they learn more deeply about the Christian faith and how it shapes our lives.  A Tuesday evening Zoom group is being shaped among the Episcopal congregations in Ulster County that will start in January.  Space is limited so contact Teri Jones ASAP for more information at terijones@optonline.net.

    Ministry Opportunities

    Children’s New Book Drive: Family of Woodstock is in need of books for children who are in or are leaving shelters.  If you are coming to in-person church, please consider bringing a new children’s book (all ages).  Or send a donation to the church (207 Albany Ave) and we will do the shopping.  Questions? Contact Outreach Coordinator Elaine (845-532-6585) or Deacon Sue (845-331-5575).

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

  6. December 3, 2020

    Outreach at St. John’s

    In most years, the month of December is filled with opportunities for serving others in our communities – like toy drives at work or carol-singing in nursing homes.  As Christians, these opportunities can be ways for us to prepare ourselves for Christ’s coming among us – the expansion of our hearts with compassion for self and others.

    This season, there are a number of ways to participate in Outreach projects:

    • We have a couple more days for our People’s Place Project Santa Sock Drive (all socks and money must be brought to the Rectory by Dec. 6).
    • We continue collecting new books for the kids who are living in Family of Woodstock shelters.  You can bring these to the Rectory too.
    • We have begun collecting for this year’s Christmas Outreach Memorials.  All monies will go to Angel Food East this year.  Simply fill out the form at the bottom of your Sunday bulletin and send it in or drop it by the Rectory on or before December 20.
    • You can become involved with the work of the Outreach Committee as they design service projects and determine the best use of designated Outreach funds from the St. John’s budget.  The next meeting is on Sunday, December 13 at 12:30 via Zoom.  See next week’s announcements for the link.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    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.

    The practice of interrupting our day for prayer is an ancient one that pre-dates Christianity and has remained a constant in every faith tradition. Regular prayer is not so much an issue of obedience as it is an invitation to remind us to reconnect.

    We can get so lost in our daily lives – the to-do list as well as the stresses and the joys of everyday life. Taking time for prayer throughout the day reminds us of our reliance upon God and gives us the opportunity to ground ourselves in gratitude to keep our spirits up and stay connected to Love.

    When the pandemic started in March, St. John’s opened up several opportunities for communal prayer and connection throughout the week. These have all continued and, for those who attend, are helpful ways of staying connected to our community and being reminded of God’s abundant love for us.

    Take a moment to stop during your day for prayer.  Here are 2 ways you can jump right in:

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    What do windows have to do with Bible study?

    Dear Ones:  I’ve had several conversations lately about stained glass windows.  Perhaps it’s because, when people come into St. John’s, their reaction to our windows is twofold: First, they love them – they are beautiful windows.  Second, they don’t depict characters in the Bible (for the most part).

    Why do so many churches have windows with characters/stories from the Bible?  There is some history to look at here.  The tradition started long before the birth of the Episcopal Church as a way of helping people read the Bible.  Yes – windows used to be a way to read the Bible.

    When did this begin to change?  Back in the 16th century, Christians throughout Europe protested the leadership of the Church because the leadership had become corrupt, as has happened in institutions throughout time.  In addition, the invention of the printing press made it easier for people to obtain reading materials so literacy rates were rising fast.  The same people who were concerned about the corruption also wanted to translate the Bible so that everyone could read it for themselves.  Up until that point, it was only the Church’s leadership who read and interpreted scripture.

    These people who protested against the Church came to be known as Protestants.  The Episcopal Church is connected to the Protestant Reformation that occurred in Europe because reformers in the Church of England framed their own English Reformation along the same lines.

    Arguably, the most consequential outcome of these sibling reformations is the translation and printing of the Bible into many languages.  This means that a significant part of our faith, as Episcopalians, is the value we place on reading scripture.  We do this every week during worship, of course, through four readings from different sections of our Bible.  As an ancient source of wisdom, there is much depth and beauty, inspiration and instruction to be found in the words of Holy Scripture, along with some troubling texts with which we are invited to contend.  The study of scripture can be exciting and deeply moving when we come to it with an earnest curiosity – not looking for easy answers, but challenging the text so that we can hear Holy Spirit speaking to us.  As we take the time to investigate the biblical texts, we can find new meanings that will inform and deepen our faith and our relationships with one another and with God.

    Recently, we’ve started coming together every Friday morning at 9:00 am to take a deeper look into scripture over Zoom.  I love teaching about scripture because I always learn something new so Friday Morning Bible Study is a real joy for me to lead.  And I think you’ll enjoy it too, so join us.  And, if this is something you’d like to do but the Friday morning time doesn’t work, please let me know.  We’ll figure something out.

    You can find the link where you find all the other links for worship and formation at St. John’s, on the St. John’s website under Celebrate & Pray > Online Streaming Worship.  Or just click here.  And we’ll see you on Friday mornings at 9:00 am!

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for December 6, 2020

     

    THIS SUNDAY!  Pastoral Care Meeting.  We meet on Zoom at 12:30.  Please click to join the meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/768878535

    A special announcement!  The Vestry of St. John’s offers profound thanks for the ministry of Jenny Allred over these past years, as the bookkeeper of St. John’s.  She has faithfully paid our bills and kept the records to assist our Treasurer and keep the Vestry apprised of our budget and balances.  Jenny completes her ministry this month as we welcome a new bookkeeper to St. John’s.  Thank you so much, Jenny, for your stewardship of our resources and your faithful ministry!

    Next Week: Outreach Committee Meeting is Sun, December 13 at 12:30 on Zoom.

    Car Donation Needed: Do you have a car you’d like to donate?  A farmworker affiliated with Rural and Migrant Ministries is in need because his car was totaled.  Please contact the Rev. Richard Witt at rcyrilwitt@aol.com

    Continue to send your pledges in!  Drop off your leaves and pledge form at the Rectory or mail them in and we’ll continue putting them on the tree.  Using the theme of Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed, we’re focusing on how all of our giving – time, talent, treasure – is the seed that grows our St. John’s community.  If you did not receive a letter, please contact Lynn Dennison from the Stewardship Committee.

    Education for Ministry (EFM):  What is EFM?  Every baptized person is called to ministry. EFM is a program designed to support the ministry of everyone.  Participants gather in small, mentored groups where they learn more deeply about the Christian faith and how it shapes our lives.  A Tuesday evening Zoom group is being shaped among the Episcopal congregations in Ulster County that will start in January.  Space is limited so contact Teri Jones ASAP for more information at terijones@optonline.net.

    A Service of Light and Remembrance: Monday, December 21 at 7:00 pm.  For many of us, especially this year, the holiday season is not all joyous.  Feelings of grief and painful memories come along with the joy of Love’s birth among us.  It really helps to give space to these parts of our experience and to allow light into those places we would rather keep in the dark.  Come for a hopeful service on the longest night of the year designed to support every part of us.  Led by the Companions of Mary the Apostle (Shane Phelan and Elizabeth Broyles who have been guest priests at St. John’s) and Ana Hernandez.  Email companionsma@gmail.com to receive the link for this service.

     

    Ministry Opportunities

    SUNDAY! THE FINAL DAY FOR OUR SOCK DRIVE to support People’s Place Project Santa  What did one new sock say to the other? “Great things are afoot!”  It’s Project Santa time again and we’ve been asked by our friends at People’s Place to host a sock drive. All sizes and shapes of new socks will be needed. Plain socks, character socks, slipper socks, heavy winter socks, crew socks and knee socks are needed for infants all the way up to 14 year-old boys and girls. Your donations of new, quality socks will warm the toes and hearts of our young neighbors. Please be generous.  You can drop off the socks in the box by the rectory or make a donation and we will shop for you.  All donations must be dropped off no later than Sunday, December 6th.  Thank you from Elaine Lawrence and Deacon Sue on behalf of the Outreach Committee.

    Children’s New Book Drive: Family of Woodstock is in need of books for children who are in or are leaving shelters.  If you are coming to in-person church, please consider bringing a new children’s book (all ages).  Or send a donation to the church (207 Albany Ave) and we will do the shopping.  Questions? Contact Outreach Coordinator Elaine (845-532-6585) or Deacon Sue (845-331-5575).

     

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

  7. November 19, 2020

    Sock-it-to-YOU!

    Let’s get moving on the People’s Place Project Santa Sock Drive!

    What did one new sock say to the other? “Great things are afoot!”

     

    It’s Project Santa time again and we’ve been asked by our friends at People’s Place to host a sock drive. All sizes and shapes of new socks will be needed. Plain socks, character socks, slipper socks, heavy winter socks, crew socks and knee socks are needed for infants all the way up to 14 year-old boys and girls. Your donations of new, quality socks will warm the toes and hearts of our young neighbors. Please be generous.

    You can drop off the socks in the box by the rectory.  Or send a check to the church with “SOCK DRIVE” in the note line and we will shop for you.  All donations must be dropped off no later than Sunday, December 6th.

    Thank you from Elaine Lawrence and Deacon Sue on behalf of the Outreach Committee.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    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.

    We at St. John’s, along with just about every other faith community across the world, have become used to worshipping at home.  Thankfully, internet platforms offer us a way to see and hear one another as well as be together for common worship.  But that doesn’t replace the special feel that a church building can be for us, a literal sanctuary that holds our prayers and where we are reminded of God’s love by the beauty, memories, and hope that have a home there.

    A few folks at St. John’s have been scheming to help us all create a sacred space in our homes, a sanctuary within a sanctuary, for the coming seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany.  Roxanne Ferber, Leah Siuta, Cathe Decker, and Rev. Michelle are putting together Advent-Christmas-Epiphany Boxes to assist with your at-home worship through the next few seasons.  These boxes will be filled with worship practices and items as well as simple crafts – for adults and kids – to help us create sacred spaces in our homes since we cannot be together in the St. John’s Sanctuary for these seasons.

    Be sure to sign up now for your Advent-Christmas-Epiphany Box!  If you would like to have children’s crafts, we need to know that too!  Most importantly, we need your name on or before Monday, Nov. 23 so that we can plan for enough materials.  The Boxes will be delivered by Rev. Michelle on Sunday, Nov. 29, the first day of Advent.

    Then, look for new videos on our youtube channel that will offer stories and instruction to go along with the Boxes.  We’ll keep you informed about new videos as they are posted in this Newsletter.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    On Cycles and Hope

    Dear Ones: As many of you know, Ana and I expanded our garden this year and jumped into the world of growing vegetables.  This came along with growing most things from seeds, which I found to be thrilling and frustrating at the same time.  Mostly, however, it was joyful and lifegiving and truly sustained me during these past months of the pandemic.

    We had a huge crop of 4 different kinds of tomatoes along with the delicata squash, jalapeno peppers, radishes, lettuces, spinach, onions, cucumbers, potatoes, snap peas, and green beans.  We also continued growing herbs and flowers.  It was so much fun and an incredible learning experience.  Ana has done this before so she was senior advisor to me, along with Monty Don, our favorite television gardener (you can learn more about him here).  And I did my best to share it all with you all via Instagram and Facebook.

    Then, our first frost came in late October.  Of course, this signaled to us the end of the growing season and we began the process of putting the garden to bed for the winter so the soil and the beds would be in good shape for spring planting.  We removed all the vegetation as we said thank you for all of the hope that the earth and these plants gave us this year during such a time of confusion, fear, and grief.  And as I placed the remnants of these plants into our compost piles, instead of feeling a sense of loss, I found myself filled with hope.  Because I realized that we were clearing the space for something new to grow.

    I was watching a show about gardening recently where a British journalist was being interviewed.  During the course of the interview, she explained just how much her family has gone through and is still going through due to the pandemic.  And she said one of the most inspiring things, “You can’t think short-term in a garden.  You have to plan; you have to have hope.  You have to invest in a future.  You don’t plant something unless you believe it’s going to come up.”

    Just thinking about all that we can grow in the coming year, fills me with hope.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for November 22, 2020

    Sign up today! To receive your Advent-Christmas-Epiphany Worship Box.   Each box is filled with items for your home worship through the seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany.  And if you have children, we’ll send along some seasonal crafts too!  The boxes will be delivered on Sunday, November 29, the first day of Advent.  The deadline to sign-up is Monday, Nov 23.  Click here: http://www.stjohnskingston.org/advent-christmas-epiphany-box-sign-up/

    Please continue to send your pledges in!  Drop off your pledge leaves and pledge form at the Rectory or mail them in and we’ll continue putting them on the tree.  Using the theme of Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed, we’re focusing on how all of our giving – time, talent, treasure – is the seed that grows our St. John’s community.  If you did not receive a letter, please contact Lynn Dennison from the Stewardship Committee.

    Gathering in Gratitude – the annual Kingston Interfaith Council’s Thanksgiving celebration will be held online this year on Tuesday, November 24 at 7:00 pm.  This year’s celebration will feature important teachings on home and homelessness as well as musical presentations and readings.  Click here for more information: https://www.kingstoninterfaithcouncil.org/events-1/interfaith-thanksgiving-service

    Ministry Opportunities

     Angel Food East Does Thanksgiving!  Join the fun (it really is fun!) of preparing Thanksgiving for over 200 people – we’re looking for people to help cook and people to help pack the food into containers.  Shifts are available all day on Monday – Wednesday, November 23-25.  Speak with Rev. Michelle for more info!

     People’s Place Project Santa Sock Drive!  What did one new sock say to the other? “Great things are afoot!”  It’s Project Santa time again and we’ve been asked by our friends at People’s Place to host a sock drive. All sizes and shapes of new socks will be needed. Plain socks, character socks, slipper socks, heavy winter socks, crew socks and knee socks are needed for infants all the way up to 14 year-old boys and girls. Your donations of new, quality socks will warm the toes and hearts of our young neighbors. Please be generous.  You can drop off the socks in the box by the rectory or make a donation and we will shop for you.  All donations must be dropped off no later than Sunday, December 6th.  Thank you from Elaine Lawrence and Deacon Sue on behalf of the Outreach Committee.

    Children’s New Book Drive: Family of Woodstock is in need of books for children who are in or are leaving shelters.  If you are coming to in-person church, please consider bringing a new children’s book (all ages).  Or send a donation to the church (207 Albany Ave) and we will do the shopping.  Questions? Contact Outreach Coordinator Elaine (845-532-6585) or Deacon Sue (845-331-5575).

     

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

  8. November 12, 2020

    The 244th Convention of the Diocese of New York

    Deacon Sue and Claudette Ford watch as Bp. Andy Dietsche addresses convention.

    Every diocese in the Episcopal Church has a convention each year to elect deputies to General Convention, members of diocesan committees and boards, and make decisions about our common life together.  This normally happens as an in-person event with people coming together for 1-2 days and, because of the pandemic, all the dioceses across the church had to do things very differently.

    Over the past 2 months, Rev. Michelle, Deacon Sue, and our warden, Claudette Ford, have all been attending weekly meetings to listen to reports and pray together.  These meetings culminated this year in one final meeting, held over Zoom, on Saturday, November 7.  We all listened and watched as our bishops, Andy Dietsche, Mary Glasspool, and Allen Shin, addressed the hundreds of online attendees.  And we all voted remotely through our computers to pass the budget and elect people into their ministries for the coming years.

    You can read the official report of diocesan convention, read/watch the bishops’ addresses, as well as review the budget for 2021 by clicking here.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    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.

    Each week you look forward to this newsletter from St. John’s (hopefully!).  Well, there are some organizations that offer daily or weekly emails – short notes of interest or inspiration.  It’s a wonderful way to keep the bigger picture in your sight each day and reconnect with the part of yourself that wonders and searches for new ways to engage the world.  Here are a few links where you can sign up for a daily or weekly inspirational email.  If you know of any others, please send them along to Rev. Michelle so she can pass them on to others.

    Brain Pickings – An inventory of the meaning of life (and some great things for kids too!), cultivated by Maria Popova.
    Gratefulness.org – The work of Brother David Steindl-Rast through the Network for Grateful Living.
    Center for Action and Contemplation – A spiritual center for contemplatives, connecting our spiritual selves to the world in which we live.
    Yes! Magazine – Stories of positive change and amazing, inspiring people.
    StoryCorps – Personal stories told by real people about building connections and creating a more compassionate world.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    The Gift of Ministry

    Dear Ones: In my sermons the past couple of weeks, I’ve been preaching about the importance of tending to our light, of surrendering to Love so that we can experience that love ourselves and become a bridge of God’s Love ourselves.

    In 12-step spirituality, those who attend meetings are expected to spend time being of service to others as a part of the program.  Those who developed this life-giving 12-step framework realized that, when we are too focused on how we think we’re failing or what we think we’re not getting, we are in danger of losing ourselves in self-judgment, anger, and depression.  However, when we spend time in active service to others, we are reminded that others have the same struggles we do, our lives suddenly seem more manageable and satisfying and our troubles less pressing.

    So, a significant part of tending our light is to be of service.  In Christianity we call this ministry, of course.  I realize that we tend to think of the things we do at church as ministry – acolytes, lectors, altar guild, choir, etc.  But ministry happens whenever we offer ourselves in service to another because being of service to another person is being of service to God.

    Especially this year, when our holidays are disrupted by the pandemic, I promise that being of service will be a gift to you.  To take the time to put aside your own concerns and focus on helping others, even if its for just a few hours, will be a boon to your spirit and will mean a lot to those you help.  Please take a good look at the Ministry Opportunities listed in our announcements each week.  There are several opportunities listed already and more will be coming.

    Give yourself the gift of ministry.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Announcements for November 15, 2020

    Wednesday Morning with Terry is back!  Join Terry Earles at 10:00 am every Wednesday as he offers 30 minutes of music and musical tidbits from the St. John’s Sanctuary.  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84863654470

    The Page Turners: Our December selection is ‘The Mountains Sing,’ by Nguyen Phan Que Mai.  This discussion will be on December 1st. All are welcome!  Contact Lynn Dennison at: radennison@aol.com for more information.

    The 2020 Pledge Campaign ends… but please continue to send your pledges!  Drop off your leaves and pledge form at the Rectory or mail them in and we’ll continue putting them on the tree.  Using the theme of Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed, we’re focusing on how all of our giving – time, talent, treasure – is the seed that grows our St. John’s community.  If you did not receive a letter, please contact Lynn Dennison from the Stewardship Committee.

    Gathering in Gratitude – the annual Kingston Interfaith Council’s Thanksgiving celebration will be held online this year on Tuesday, November 17 at 7:00 pm.  This year’s celebration will feature important teachings on home and homelessness as well as musical presentations and readings.  Click here for more information: https://www.kingstoninterfaithcouncil.org/events-1/interfaith-thanksgiving-service

     

    Ministry Opportunities

    Children’s New Book Drive: Family of Woodstock is in need of books for children who are in or are leaving shelters.  If you are coming to in-person church, please consider bringing a new children’s book (all ages).  Or send a donation to the church (207 Albany Ave) and we will do the shopping.  Questions? Contact Outreach Coordinator Elaine (845-532-6585) or Deacon Sue (845-331-5575).

    People’s Place Project Santa Sock Drive!  What did one new sock say to the other? “Great things are afoot!”  It’s Project Santa time again and we’ve been asked by our friends at People’s Place to host a sock drive. All sizes and shapes of new socks will be needed. Plain socks, character socks, slipper socks, heavy winter socks, crew socks and knee socks are needed for infants all the way up to 14 year-old boys and girls. Your donations of new, quality socks will warm the toes and hearts of our young neighbors. Please be generous.  You can drop off the socks in the box by the rectory or make a donation and we will shop for you.  All donations must be dropped off no later than Sunday, December 6th.  Thank you from Elaine Lawrence and Deacon Sue on behalf of the Outreach Committee.

    Angel Food East Does Thanksgiving!  Join the fun (it really is fun!) of preparing Thanksgiving for over 200 people – we’re looking for people to help cook and people to help pack the food into containers.  Shifts are available throughout the day and evening on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, November 23-25.  Speak with Rev. Michelle for more info!

     

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

  9. November 5, 2020

    Keeping Us Healthy: A Change in Our Worship Pattern

    The pandemic has taught us many things this year, especially the importance of community.  And we’ve known for a while that we would see an uptick in cases over the fall/winter months.  Of course, we were hoping this increase would come a little later, but Ulster County has begun to see a rise in COVID cases.  Therefore, to keep the St. John’s community healthy, we are shifting our worship pattern.

    Beginning this Sunday on November 8, we will follow this pattern for Sunday worship:

    • 10:00 am: The Liturgy of the Word will be broadcast from the Sanctuary through Zoom.  Our Music Director and Cantor will be the only people in the Sanctuary along with the clergy.  Readings, hymns, prayers, and announcements will all take place during this part of the service which will end at approximately 11:00 am., similar to how we worshipped over the spring and summer months.  This will also be available via Facebook Live.
    • 11:45 am: The Liturgy of the Table will take place in the Sanctuary and will not be broadcast over Zoom.  As a continuation of what we begin at 10:00 am, for those who would like to come and receive Communion, Rev. Michelle will bless and offer this sacrament (in bread only) every Sunday.  There will be no hymns or readings so this part of the service will take no longer than 15-20 minutes.

    In addition to keeping us safe, this pattern will enable us to worship as a fuller community online and still participate in the sacrament of Eucharist through the winter.  Please note: The funeral for Doreen Goodwin will still take place as an in-person Eucharist (and broadcast over Zoom) on Saturday, November 14 at 11:00 am.

    As was announced via email last week, we are also looking into improving the online experience, primarily through better audio/video equipment.  So, if you’d like to contribute to this, please email Rev. Michelle at michelle.stjohnskingston@gmail.com.

     

    Tending Our Light

    This coming Sunday the gospel lesson is the parable of the bridesmaids, where there are 5 “foolish” and 5 “wise” bridesmaids.  And the parable teaches us through the seemingly simple question of whether they have enough oil for their oil lamps.  In other words, are they tending well to their own lights?  And, I have to say, I couldn’t have planned a better parable to continue the conversation about how to take care of ourselves in the coming months.

    So we’ll have a spot in the Weekly Good News called, Tending Our Light.  Every week, I’ll offer something to help keep our spirits buoyed and our mental health on track.

    This week we’ll begin with a movie that’s available on Netflix and Disney channels called, My Octopus Teacher (thank you to the Rev. Susan Auchincloss for the recommendation!).  Yes, it’s a bit of a clunky title.  It’s a documentary about a man who has hit a low point in his life and finds a way to rekindle his own light.  It’s an inspiring story of interconnectedness, life, and healing and is told with absolutely stunning underwater photography.

    Now, if you don’t have Netflix or Disney (or even if you do), I invite you to joins me as I re-watch it via Zoom on Thursday, November 12 at 7:00 pm.  So order your pizza or pop your popcorn and then click here to join the watch party.   Rev. Michelle

    A Christian Response

    Dear Ones:  While we are in the midst of election returns during one of the most divisive and important elections, at least, in my own lifetime, I invite us to reflect on our faith.  What does our Christian faith tell us?  What can we learn from the witness of Jesus the Christ that is applicable to what’s currently happening?

    Before I could gather my own thoughts on Wednesday morning, I was offered this beautiful post, written by one of my friends, Brother Aiden, who is a monk right down the road at Holy Cross Monastery in West Park.  I realized upon reading it that it was exactly what I needed to hear and I could not have said it any better myself.  So, I ask that you take the time to read this insightful and grounding reflection from Brother Aiden to help see this election from the perspective of the gospel witness.  Click here to read.

    May you receive peace and hope from his words.  I know I have.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

     

    Announcements for November 8, 2020

    Wednesday Morning with Terry is back!  Join Terry Earles at 10:00 am every Wednesday as he offers 30 minutes of music and musical tidbits from the St. John’s Sanctuary. Click here to join: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84863654470

    The Page Turners: Will meet by Zoom on November 10th to discuss ‘Caste,’ by Isabel Wilkerson (date changed because of Election Day).  Our December selection is ‘The Mountains Sing,’ by Nguyen Phan Que Mai.  This discussion will be on December 1st. All are welcome!  Contact Lynn Dennison at: radennison@aol.com for more information.

    The 2020 Pledge Campaign Continues!  By now, you’ve received a letter from our Stewardship Committee to announce this year’s campaign.  Using the theme of Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed, we’re focusing on how all of our giving – time, talent, treasure – is the seed that grows our St. John’s community.  Look for your letter and your opportunity to pledge! And then, drop off your leaves at the Rectory or mail them in.  We’ll make sure they get placed on the tree so that by November 15, when the Pledge Campaign is over, we’ll have the tree full of color.

    Gathering in Gratitude – the annual Kingston Interfaith Council’s Thanksgiving celebration will be held online this year on Tuesday, November 17 at 7:00 pm.  This year’s celebration will feature important teachings on home and homelessness as well as musical presentations and readings.  Click here for more information: https://www.kingstoninterfaithcouncil.org/events-1/interfaith-thanksgiving-service

    A gentle reminder that the Funeral Eucharist for our dear friend and longtime parishioner, Doreen Goodwin, will take place this coming Saturday, November 14 at 11:00 am.  This is an in-person worship.  Look for a link to watch online via Zoom on the St. John’s website.

    Ministry Opportunities

    Children’s New Book Drive: Family of Woodstock is in need of books for children who are in or are leaving shelters.  If you are coming to in-person church, please consider bringing a new children’s book (all ages).  Or send a donation to the church (207 Albany Ave) and we will do the shopping.  Questions? Contact Outreach Coordinator Elaine (845-532-6585) or Deacon Sue (845-331-5575).

    People’s Place Project Santa Sock Drive!  What did one new sock say to the other? “Great things are afoot!”  It’s Project Santa time again and we’ve been asked by our friends at People’s Place to host a sock drive. All sizes and shapes of new socks will be needed. Plain socks, character socks, slipper socks, heavy winter socks, crew socks and knee socks are needed for infants all the way up to 14 year-old boys and girls. Your donations of new, quality socks will warm the toes and hearts of our young neighbors. Please be generous.  You can drop off the socks in the box by the rectory or make a donation and we will shop for you.  All donations must be dropped off no later than Sunday, December 6th.  Thank you from Elaine Lawrence and Deacon Sue on behalf of the Outreach Committee.

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

  10. October 29, 2020

    Worshipping with the Wider Church

    As a part of the larger Episcopal Church, St. John’s is connected to an amazing array of preachers, theologians, and activists.  One gift that the pandemic has afforded us is the opportunity to be more connected to the wider Church through online worship mediums.  Here are two amazing opportunities happening this coming week!

    First, the Diocese of New York is having our yearly convention, a time for delegates from all the congregations to gather, discuss, and vote on matters that affect our common life.  This year, of course, we cannot gather in person so we’re attending a series of diocesan events online.

    • Everyone is invited to attend the Convention Evensong worship service on Monday, November 2 at 6:00 pm, streamed directly from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.  St. John the Divine is the largest gothic cathedral in the world and the featured preacher is the prophetic and powerful Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at UTS in New York.  This webpage will have the streaming details when they have been announced.
    • You’re also invited to observe the Diocesan Convention on Saturday, November 6 (it runs from 10:00-4:00) where you’ll be able to hear from our bishops – Andy Dietsche, Mary Glasspool, and Alan Shin among others.  Rev. Michelle will be attending along with Deacon Sue and our warden Claudette Ford.  And, because not every part of convention is interesting, Rev. Michelle will be updating us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook so we can jump on and catch the action throughout the day.  Click here to find the streaming details or follow Rev. Michelle’s posts throughout the day.

    Second, our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry, will be presiding over a special service on All Saints Day called Holding on to Hope: A National Service for Healing and Wholeness.  With a combination of live and pre-recorded elements, the service will be broadcast from the Washington National Cathedral on Sunday, November 1 at 4:00 pm.  Joining Bishop Michael will be people like Father James Martin, a noted Roman Catholic author and commentator on American life and values; Valarie Kaur, an inspiring Sikh filmmaker, author, and civil rights attorney; and Secretary Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State and head of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.  Click this link to learn more and connect directly to the service when it starts.  Or, join your St. John’s friends as we watch it over Zoom together: Click here beginning at 3:45 pm or go to the St. John’s Online Streaming Worship page for the link.

     

    The Long Nights Ahead: Planning Self-Care

    Dear Ones:  We all know that this pandemic has been difficult on us.  I was reading an article the other day that spoke about how important it is to remember that, in addition to the low-grade depression brought on by the pandemic, this is also the time of year when people start to feel low due to the loss of light and the cold weather.  And this article said: Make a plan.

    Honestly, I think that’s half the battle when it comes to feeling low – to know ourselves well enough that we can anticipate our own low points.  This way, we can prepare and plan to do things to keep ourselves buoyed and connected to other people.  With the pandemic, we didn’t have time to make a plan and so we were all caught off-guard by the sudden severity of it, the disappointment of having all our plans changed, and the fear as we watched people lose jobs or housing or lose the people they love, or their very lives.

    But right now, we know more about what’s coming.  We know that Thanksgiving and Christmas will likely look very different for many of us.  We also know that social media is not always helpful for our mental state.  And we know that having less of the sun’s light can make our lives feel lonely even when we know God is with us in the midst of the long nights.

    So, my beloveds, I ask you to make a plan.  And I’ll help.  Throughout the next few months, I’ll be on the lookout for ways to keep our spirits up and our mental health on track.  And then each week, I’ll pass along a new idea to you in the Weekly Good News.  We are called to bring the Light of Christ to the world so let’s be sure we tend to the Light for ourselves too.

    In God’s love and mine, Rev. Michelle

     

    Announcements for November 1, 2020

    THIS WEEK!  Please vote if you haven’t yet.  If you need a ride to your polling place, email/call Rev. Michelle and we’ll make arrangements to get you there.

    Hospitality for voters at St. John’s on Nov. 3: Join Rev. Michelle on Election Day as St. John’s becomes a polling place for the day (which we are every year).  Let people know how welcoming we are at St. John’s during a very divided time in our country and help keep up the spirits of the voters.  You can help in 2 ways:

      • Come for an hour or two and help Rev. Michelle with hospitality (only if you’re comfortable doing so!) You can stay in the St. John’s kitchen and make coffee or help in the outside tent to pass out coffee, treats, chairs, etc. to people in line. Let her know you’re coming and, please… no partisan clothing or discussion!
      • Drop off snacks for the voters during the day – bottles of water, granola bars, leftover Halloween candy, etc.

    Diocese of New York Convention Our delegates, Rev. Michelle, Deacon Sue, and Claudette Ford, have been preparing themselves by attending weekly online presentation meetings and this coming Saturday, they will virtually attend convention to vote on those things that affect our common lives here in the Diocese of New York.  You’re welcome to attend too!  The worship service will take place on Monday, Nov 2 at 6:00 and Convention begins at 10:00am on Saturday morning, Nov. 7.  Go to the website, find the calendar at the bottom of the front page and click the links to attend:  https://www.dioceseny.org/

    The Page Turners: Will meet by Zoom on November 10th to discuss ‘Caste,’ by Isabel Wilkerson (date changed because of Election Day).  Our December selection is ‘The Mountains Sing,’ by Nguyen Phan Que Mai.  This discussion will be on December 1st. All are welcome!  Contact Lynn Dennison at: radennison@aol.com for more information.

    The 2020 Pledge Campaign Continues!  By now, you’ve received a letter from our Stewardship Committee to announce this year’s campaign.  Using the theme of Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed, we’re focusing on how all of our giving – time, talent, treasure – is the seed that grows our St. John’s community.  Look for your letter and your opportunity to pledge!  And then, bring your leaves to church on Sunday, mail them in, or bring them by the Rectory.  We’ll make sure they get placed on the tree.

    Gathering in Gratitude – the annual Kingston Interfaith Council’s Thanksgiving celebration will be held online this year on Tuesday, November 17 at 7:00 pm.  This year’s celebration will feature important teachings on home and homelessness as well as musical presentations and readings.  Click here for more information: https://www.kingstoninterfaithcouncil.org/events-1/interfaith-thanksgiving-service

    Ministry Opportunities

    Children’s New Book Drive: Family of Woodstock is in need of books for children who are in or are leaving shelters.  If you are coming to in-person church, please consider bringing a new children’s book (all ages).  Or send a donation to the church (207 Albany Ave) and we will do the shopping.  Questions? Contact Outreach Coordinator Elaine (845-532-6585) or Deacon Sue (845-331-5575).

    People’s Place Project Santa Sock Drive!  What did one new sock say to the other? “Great things are afoot!”  It’s Project Santa time again and we’ve been asked by our friends at People’s Place to host a sock drive. All sizes and shapes of new socks will be needed. Plain socks, character socks, slipper socks, heavy winter socks, crew socks and knee socks are needed for infants all the way up to 14 year-old boys and girls. Your donations of new, quality socks will warm the toes and hearts of our young neighbors. Please be generous.  You can drop off the socks in the box by the rectory or make a donation and we will shop for you.  All donations must be dropped off no later than Sunday, December 6th.  Thank you from Elaine Lawrence and Deacon Sue on behalf of the Outreach Committee.

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