August 16, 10:00 a.m.

live-streamed - click the link below

Planning Ahead

I am happy to tell you that we have assembled a splendid and expert team to consider the potential re-opening process if and when it becomes safer to do so, and when the state and town, health department, and our Bishops give a green light to gatherings of more than ten persons (outside at first), and when our team deems we are ready and equipped to do so safely and effectively. We will need sound amplification equipment that can be used (weather permitting) on the back lawn,  live-streaming set-up for outdoors, hand-sanitizing stations, extra masks, a sign up in advance system so we do not go over safe capacity, publicized guidelines for those attending and greeters prepared to enforce them strictly, a strategy for entering and exiting maintaining social distance. We also will need the approval of the diocese based on our resources and preparedness, during phase 2. (You can see the various guidelines on www.diomass.org and www.Mass.gov). We are not ready yet!

Our Re-Opening Team consists of Doctors Henry (a COVID team leader in his workplace) and Katherine Trier (pediatrician), Junior Warden Tom Kelleher, vestryperson Vic Kingsley, Leslie Davie, R.N., Youth & Children's Minister Emily Sugg, me, and Dr. Andy Onderdonk. Among the considerations will be whether it is better to open with a strong chance of needing to return to online only worship if the virus resurges in our state and town, or to wait until recovery seems further along.  As of June 16th Massachusetts reported having had 105,690 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 712,875 people tested; 87 new cases and 23 deaths the day of report and 7,647 in total. The Town of Westwood reported 122 cases. We are trending in a hopeful direction, but are by no means out of the woods!

We will continue online worship as well as in-person since there will be a substantial subset of parishioners who cannot and safely return and should not because of their own age or health status. Restarting any program for children and youth will take longer, according to state and church guidelines. 

God bids us love one another, pray and trust God always, use the gifts of reason and knowledge, patience and charity, and choose for life as we discern and make decisions about our parish. Your rector and vestry always welcome your thoughts and concerns, and ask for your prayers in this challenging time.

Pr 14A 8-9-20                                   St. John's Church online

Rev'd Jennifer Phillips                              1 Kings 19:9-18;Rom.10:5-15;Mtt.14:22-33

Years back, A friend and I rented a tiny sailing skiff, not much more than a windsurfer, at an island holiday spot and off we sailed into the big horseshoe-shaped channel between our island and a barren little elbow of sand that shadowed it. We didn't have a lot of sailing experience, and none in a boat as small as this one. There was a brisk trade wind and we made fast sailing on a perfect balmy day, down the channel toward open water. Then we came about and started tacking back toward the marina. We had three hours' rental, and had used a half-hour going southeast with the wind. We tacked once and then again, keeping as a marker a big rock on the distant shore. A third tack. It became clear we were barely moving northwest at all, though we went fast enough back and forth. The wind was vigorous and the little craft had hardly any centerboard or draught. The spray wet us down and despite the sun, we started to feel cold and scared. And after an hour of tacking, we inched up the channel a quarter of the way and were shivering hard. And after another hour, the marina launch put-putted out toward us and we knew our rescue was coming. This happened a lot, and they made extra cash charged if you had to be towed in. We were glad enough to pay it, feeling foolish. 

So as I hear Matthew's Gospel story, In my mind's eye the little boat is struggling in the increasing waves and wind of the storm. Such storms blow up often over the big land-locked lake with its bluffs on one side - where Jordan is now - and its hilly shore on the other, the Galilee side, and the people in the boat  - some fishers used to the moody weather on the water, others landlubbers - are all to some degree anxious. Likely they lowered the sail if the wind got too high, and are relying on the oars. Some are paddling hard. Their response to fear is to knuckle down and do what is necessary, the task in front of them - concentrate on that and try to hold their fright at bay. They are the practical ones, and were probably mad at their shipmates for being useless. And by dawn, they are exhausted and cold and desperate.

Some are likely terrified and hanging onto the gunwhales with white knuckles, expecting to capsize or be swamped any minute. The boat doesn't seem to be making headway toward shore. What does a tax-collector know from boats! Maybe they can't even see the shore now because of the blown spray. And them night falls and all they can do is keep on. They surrender to fear when it overwhelms them.  Likely their comrades are cursing at them to help out, but they are paralyzed and useless. Some likely shrink down inside the boat and close their eyes. and when their comrades shout - seeing a figure moving impossibly over the water, and they take a peek, they assume a ghost is before them, maybe even death himself, coming to seize them and drag them down. 

One or two of them keep looking and recognize the figure- at first tentatively, then with more certainty. It is Jesus, or maybe a hallucination of Jesus, or some supernatural manifestation. Their hearts pound...but suddenly they wonder if they are to be lost, or maybe about to be rescued magically. 

Jesus calls out to them. The voice they know! And says, "take heart. Don't be afraid." Easy for him to say. Some of them trust him implicitly and are calmed. Some not so much! After all, they hardly understand who he is. they sort-of trust him, but like to hedge their bets. 

Then there's Peter. He recognizes Jesus at once, and seems to think everything is now resolved. problem solved. He tends to bluster, and so now he cockily calls out "Command me to come to you, if you are who you say you are." He's alternately the risk-taker and the fleer-from-trouble in the group. The sort of guy who's embarrassed by his own fear and uncertainly. But he expects Jesus to save him and help him walk on water just the same way as Jesus. He can only pull off the bravado for a moment or two and then he starts going down. He can put fear aside, but then the reality of the danger hits him, and he's as frightened as the rest. So Jesus gets him by the scruff of the neck and pulls him back to the boat. He must have been mortified once he stopped drowning.

Debbie Thomas, "Out on the Water" in Journey With Jesus Webzine, writes this about the story:

"In my mind, the power of this Gospel story doesn’t lie in Peter’s faith, doubt, courage, or fear. Peter’s trajectory — fascinating though it is — is not the point of the reading.  Jesus’s trajectory is the point, because unlike Peter’s, it never changes.  It is constant, focused, relentless, and uni-directional.  From the very beginning of the story, Jesus moves towards his disciples.  He moves towards them when they’re struggling at sea.  He moves towards them when they decide he’s a menacing ghost.  He moves towards them when they’re terrified by his approach.  He moves towards them when they’re reckless enough to set him a dare.  He moves towards them when they begin to drown.  He moves towards them when they ask for help.  He moves towards them when they’re shivering and sorry for their rashness.  He moves towards them when they realize — for a beautiful, flickering instant — who he is and what he is.  He moves towards them when they worship him. In other words, Jesus never stops moving towards the ones he loves. "

Paul tells the Romans: Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." And yet there is trust involved. There is an investment in relationship with God, and with doing the work of the Word-come-near. Paul is saying, both Jews and Gentiles have access to divine love - God is God of all, generous to all. But that doesn't mean nothing bad ever happens to the faithful, that their boats will never capsize. 

The Gospel seems to ask us, "Do you trust Jesus?", but also, "What will you do with your fear?" Peter maybe had to learn the hard way to stay in the boat and keep rowing. Faith doesn't call us to be daredevils - people who won't wear a mask or stay away from crowds in our day because we boast God will save us from getting sick. Maybe that seems to work for a little distance; then we drown. It is not foolish to have some fear in a deadly situation- it keeps us sharp, maybe keeps us rowing hard. But we need not lose heart and despair. The storm and our fear are no excuses for despair or blind panic, or by being lesser people than we are called to be.

This past week we heard a strong and brave Christian testify to the power of the braided strands of faith and hard work and perseverance. John Lewis [in NYT 7-30-20] in his 'walk with the wind' final essay wrote to us:

"each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

... I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe." 

Keep on rowing, friends; the storm is not over yet, but Jesus is always coming toward us,

Prayer for a Pandemic
By Cameron Bellm
May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.

 95 Deerfield Ave
 Westwood, MA 02090

WEEKLY SCHEDULE                          

Sunday Worship: 10:00 a.m. live streamed. Please email Jennifer for access:

This is St. John's Episcopal Church... please click on photo below to see more photos of church life!

This is St. John's Episcopal Church, Westwood MA

Want to check on the readings for a particular Sunday or other day?  Click below to go to the Lectionary page...  all readings available for 2019-2020:

Rev. Dr. Jennifer M. Phillips

We are now accepting pledge payments online.
Please click the link below.

Please - keep your pledge payments current if you are able. The expenses of the church continue in this time of crisis as does our outreach and mission (with necessary modifications). We rely on our members contributions to keep doing Christ’s work at St. John’s! And if you are in a financial crisis - let the rector know. If you need to modify your pledge, let Alan Macdonald, our Treasurer, know. 
Thank you!

Sunday, August 16, 10:00 a.m.:                                               
Live streamed morning prayer 
11:30 a.m.: Zoom coffee hour Please email Jennifer for the Zoom invitation, if you haven't already. We miss seeing you all!      

Tuesday, August 18 & 25, 7:00 p.m.:
Bible Study, followed by Compline, on Zoom. Please contact Jennifer to receive the Zoom invitation via email:

Wednesday, August 26:
St. John's will deliver 50 sandwiches & 50 pieces of fruit to Ecclesia Ministries, to feed homeless neighbors in Boston. Ecclesia is very grateful for our continued support! The Church of the Epiphany in Walpole joins us each time in this ministry. The next chance to help  will be August 26. Please email Emily at:
Thank you!

A card made by one of our youth for a member of Ecclesia Ministries.
Christian Discipleship in Action via St. John’s

Looking Ahead:

Come join in:

Oasis Ministries –we provide a monthly hot dinner to about 60 homeless neighbors at Old West Church in Boston on 2nd Mondays. 

Ecclesia outreach – This summer we are providing sandwiches and fresh fruit approximately every two weeks, with the help of Epiphany, Walpole. 

Pantry support – for the Westwood Food Pantry:  Good news! The pantry is now accepting food donations Monday - Friday, 9:00 - Noon. Please make any deliveries to the Council on Aging, 60 Nahatan St., Westwood. Many thanks!

Prayer Shawls – knitting group prayerfully makes shawls for people facing illness or crisis.

Eucharistic Visiting  members are trained and take the Sacrament, offer healing prayer, and make friendly visits to people who are homebound, in hospital, or other institutional settings. This will resume when it's safe to do so.
Speak to Rev. Jennifer if you’d like to put your discipleship to work in one or more of these parish ministries!

 When online shopping with Amazon, please consider supporting St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church by using amazonsmile.  For more information, click the link below.

For Health Care Workers


Sanctify, O Author of all healing, those whom you have called to the study and practice of the arts of healing and to the prevention of disease and suffering (especially N.). Strengthen them by your life-giving Spirit, that by their ministries the health of the community may be promoted and your creation glorified; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.


In Confinement


My Creator, you rolled out the heavens,

you spread the sky like a tent:

bless to me the small confinement of this room,

the long days, disturbances of night,

immobility of body, unease of soul,

that this place of exile

may become my holy ground

and Jesus my deliverer. Amen.


In times of Widespread Illness


Holy God, our times are in your hand;

calm our minds, anxious in this time of illness;

lend us your wisdom to act with prudence,

be mindful of the needs and fears of others,

and be people of resolve, kindness, and courage,

following the path of your beloved Son Jesus,

in the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Subpages (1): Outreach during Covid19