January 24, 10:00 a.m. 

Morning Prayer service at church livestreaming on the church's FaceBook page

11:30 a.m.: Zoom coffee hour
Please email Jennifer for the Zoom invitation, if you can in us!

Wednesday, January 20, 9:00 a.m.: 
brief FB livestreamed service of prayer for Inauguration Day

Hi!! from St. John's

Warrant for Annual Parish Meeting

of St. John's Church, Westwood, MA

to be held by Zoom on

Sunday February 7th, 2021 at 1 pm


to receive reports of Officers and Organizations of the parish in addition to any mailed previously; to thank retiring leaders; to elect officers, vestry and delegates as stated in parish By-Laws and Church Canons; to review and receive the 2021 budget and review the previous year's finances ; and to conduct such other business as may lawfully come before this meeting.

All baptized persons 16 years of age or older, who acknowledge the authority of the By-laws of the Parish, and who declare their intention to aid in maintaining public worship therein and parish mission by regular attendance at such worship, and who are contributors of record, and enrolled among the Communicants in Good Standing of St. John's Church are entitled to voice and vote. Guests may also speak at the meeting with permission of the Chair.

The vestry voted to conduct this meeting electronically for public safety in the time of COVID-19, as they deem is allowed by the language of our By-Laws.

Parish Senior Warden

Bob Murphy

(anyone who objects to an online meeting, please contact the Senior Warden)

We are now accepting pledge payments online.

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!
Please click the link below.

Health and Wellness Participant Screening:

Every parishioner will be asked to complete a wellness screening before coming to worship.  All information will be documented and filed.  This form may be filled out at home and brought with you to church.  In the event you do not have a completed form, you may fill one out when you arrive.

Please click the link below to get a copy of the St. John's Health and Wellness Participant Screening. 

St. John's Health and Wellness Screening

Epiphany +1B 1-12-21 Feast of the Baptism                         St. John's Church online

Rev'd Jennifer Phillips                                          Gen.1:1-5; Acts 29:1-7; Mark 1:4-11

Last Wednesday Jesus was in the manger. Today he is grown, an adult, but still seeming young in terms of his life vocation, which the Gospel traditions suggest really unfolded in three short years of full adulthood from age 30-33. In Luke's telling, Jesus and John the Baptist are cousins of the same age give or take a few months. Luke also gave us the lovely story of the two Moms putting their heads together about their rather unexpected pregnancies. At Bible study I was imagining a subsequent meeting of the women with their-now grown sons. Elizabeth saying: You won't believe this but my son John has gone off to join a cult! (As it seems reasonable to suspect that John might have got from his Jewish Temple-associated family to being an itinerant baptizer in the wilderness via formation among the Essenes, an ascetical breakaway sect of Messianic Jews who formed the remote community on the bank of the Dead Sea (from which the famous Dead Sea Scrolls came). The Essenes didn't believe in private property, and followed a religious practice that involved a lot of ritual bathing (more than the Jewish norm) and including penitential bathing - you can still see the stone foundations of their several bathing pools and the gushing aquifer-water pouring out of the desert cliff face near Khirbet Qumran. 

And then I imagine Mary perhaps shaking her head and describing her own son's impatience with some of the foibles of the leaders of the local synagogue, his penchant for debating Torah with the scholars, and his slightly dangerous and scary insistence that the Roman Empire was a corrupt sham and the real empire of God was near at hand and replacing it. 

So today we glimpse the two cousins, one well-launched on his short career as a fire-preaching prophet and baptizer, the other perhaps just grasping that his life with God was about to take a new direction even more dramatic than his cousin's. Since Mark's earliest Gospel doesn't give us a birth-story for Jesus, and none of the Gospels tell us much of anything about the first thirty years of these men, this story of Jesus' baptism takes on a huge importance. God speaks directly to Jesus, and someone, at the very least John, overhears and witnesses this, and the arrival of the Holy Spirit to signify the moment is as obvious as a bird dropping down from heaven. 

Why does Jesus go to seek Baptism, I wonder. John's Gospel hedges a bit- and has Jesus say, enigmatically, "to fulfill all righteousness", whatever he has in mind by that. Did Jesus feel himself  sinner needing to repent? Christian tradition is uncomfortable with that idea, preferring a sinless Jesus. We can't ask his mother, who might have seen him differently. At the very least, Jesus must have gone seeking something: maybe clarification of his vocation. Maybe consultation with a cousin who seemed so very clear about his own calling and work. How many of us, I wonder, have gone to a liminal place like a waterside to ponder our own future direction, our need to make a change? And how many of us have gone to seek advice, or confirmation from a peer a little further on in their life-journey? 

"Jesus rises from the waters: the world rises with him," says St. Gregory Nazianzus in 4th century Constantinople; "Today let us do honor to Christ's baptism....He wants you to become a living force for all humanity....radiant lights." What a grand commission! Whatever the cause of the visit to John, Jesus is dipped in the Jordan by him - as all the Gospels describe - and God names his identity: You are my child, my beloved. And then the word of approval: in you I am well-pleased. And as one of us suggested, at that moment maybe Jesus was thinking in return: "Thank you God, I got it right so far. Beam me up now before I screw it up." 

From that point Jesus can only go home by another road, when he goes home at all. In fact the first place he goes is into the desert alone for a serious bout of testing by the great Adversary (a.k.a. the Tempter, the Devil, Satan). He needs to sort out, before he can get to work, what his goal truly is; how he will and will not use his energy, his gifts, his power and authority. Which are things every person starting out on a vocational path needs to do! Most do it somewhere between high school and age thirty - asking what matters most to me? How shall I live? What sort of a person do I want to be? And what sort of person do I want not to be? Where are my limits?

Some of the Bible Study group had just watched "Finding Elizabeth" a powerful PBS drama with Glenda Jackson playing an elderly woman, Maud, whose only beloved sister disappeared when they were teenagers. She is beginning the descent into Alzheimer's dementia, forgetful and rather frantic to patch the holes in her shredding memory. As the story begins, her best friend Elizabeth abruptly disappears from her home, the day after Maud has visited. Maud tries to convince her own daughter and granddaughter, the police and others, that Elizabeth has gone missing and something is wrong, but because Maud is old and confused, no one  takes her complaint seriously. So she begins a desperate search, which is muddled by memories of her sister's vanishing forty years previously. And it is a toss-up which will come first, the dissolving of her reason and independence or the solving of the mysteries that haunt her. I'm not going to spoil the story for you, but the striking thing for me about the terrifying depiction of dementia taking over is that -knowing she is losing her mind, Maud has a sense of absolute determination and vocation to complete the task of finding Elizabeth that only she can accomplish, only she understands as vital. Like any injured soldier returning to the field of battle to rescue a wounded comrade, she will risk anything to do what she is sure is right and necessary. And that's a pretty good description of vocation, as opposed to simply a career or a job.

In this historical moment, when so many are urged and moved toward rage and violence and entitlement, it matters that we re-examine what God is calling us to do and to be, so as to be healers, positive change-agents, and people of persistent hope. It helps to use the baptismal promises as an examen, a tool for conscientious self-reflection and assessment: have we, how well have we, sought and served Christ in every other person? How have we cared for and cherished creation? How well have we tended our life of prayer separately and with the church? How have we proclaimed the good news of God in Christ? 

At any point in life, we may be brought to a time of fresh vocation - and it may not feel as expansive, free, happy, or adventurous as one we may have been fortunate to have in our young adulthood - but it demands of us - even broken and worn as we may be - passion and direction, and agency out of a deep sense of personhood - of which God may also say to us, Child of mine, I am so pleased with you! Even if the only work left is the effort to endure suffering or to die well - whatever that looks like to the person being so-called  - that can be a vocation with integrity and godliness. 

On this Feast of the Baptism of Jesus - a day in which the Church customarily welcomes new members by Baptism and we recall our own Baptism as we say the words of the Creed together, the heart of our Baptismal covenant, I invite you to reflect on your own vocation - maybe vocations plural! What is your calling now? On what water's edge do you stand, considering what comes next? And as you prepare to take your next step, can you hear the Holy One calling you My Child! Drawing you onward. And being very well-pleased with you!

 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

Thursday, January 21, by 8:30 a.m.:

Delivery of 50 sandwiches and pieces of fresh fruit to Ecclesia Ministries @ Emmanuel Church in Boston. Thank you to all who are participating! Ecclesia Ministries is very grateful!

Tuesday, January 19, 7:00 p.m.:
Bible Study, followed by Compline, on Zoom. Please contact Jennifer to receive the Zoom invitation:

Tuesday, January 19: (new date) our High School Youth are collecting warm clothing for unhoused men and women in Boston for the CityReach program. Although we won't be able to hand out clothing in person this year, we will be donating:

  • mittens, gloves, scarves
  • new socks 
  • new long underwear 
  • pants, 
  • sweaters or sweatshirts 
  • coats & boots 
  • sleeping  bags
  • blankets
  • backpacks or other large bags

We'd love your help gathering these items! Please leave donations in the designated boxes in the narthex before the 19th, or call for a pick-up. Email Emily at: emilysugg30@gmail.com with any questions. Thank you!!

Wednesday, January 20, 9:00 a.m.:                                                         brief FB livestreamed service of prayer for Inauguration Day

Sunday, January 24, 10:00 a.m.:                                                                            Morning Prayer service at church on via live-streaming on the church's FaceBook page. 

11:30 a.m.: 
Zoom coffee hour

Please email Jennifer for the Zoom invitation, if you can in us!Looking Ahead:

Annual Parish Meeting:

If you have headed up a parish committee or work team, even one disrupted by life during COVID since March, please write a paragraph about your group’s work for our Annual Parish meeting, February 7th (by ZOOM) in the early afternoon. Send it to Jennifer when complete at revjphillips@earthlink.net, along with a list of the people in the working group.

Oasis Ministries –we provide a monthly hot dinner to about 60 homeless neighbors at Old West Church in Boston on 2nd Mondays. Right now Jen Whitmore is cooking our meal for us, which is an extraordinary gift. We continue to support Oasis financially. 

Ecclesia outreach – This winter we are continuing to provide sandwiches and fresh fruit approximately every two weeks, with the help of Epiphany, Walpole. Thanks to all who have been involved! 

Above is a photo of Rev. Mary leading outdoor worship at common cathedral.

Pantry support – for the Westwood Food Pantry:  The pantry is accepting food donations Monday - Friday, 9:00 - Noon. Please make any deliveries to the Council on Aging, 60 Nahatan St., Westwood. OR you can drop off food in the designated box in front of the Westwood Library, any time of day. Many thanks!   Please click on the link at the bottom of this page or at the top of the left column to see our Covid19 Outreach page. There are many ways for us to help right now!

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.

Subpages (1): Outreach during Covid19