January 15, 10:30 a.m.
Service and feast at CHS, 525 River St., Mattapan!
 No service at St. John's.

Feast of the Baptism of Jesus; Epi+1A 1-8-17                                       St. John’s Church

Rev’d Jennifer Phillips                                       Isa.42:12-9; Acts 10:34-43; Mtt.3:13-17


If anyone wants to know how to identify the person of God, the righteous leader, the faithful disciple of Christ, here’s how you know, (God says, through Isaiah:)

 "Take a good look at my servant. I'm backing this person to the hilt. This is the one I chose, and in whom I couldn't be more pleased. I've bathed this servant with my Spirit, my life. And so this servant will set everything right among the nations, 2 and won't call attention to what he or she does with loud speeches or gaudy parades. 3 This servant won't brush aside the bruised and the hurt and won't disregard the small and insignificant, but will steadily and firmly set things right. 4 This one won't tire out and quit and won't be stopped until he or she finishes the work - to set things right on earth.”

We have been baptized into Christ, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and marked as Christ’s own forever. If we are to live into the promises we have made, if we are to let the divine life of Christ grow in us, then there are some behaviors that are not optional for us, but mandatory, the marks of our very identity. We do them out of love for the God who first loved us and called us into discipleship.

It is not optional whether or not we share what we have with those who are poor and in need. Jesus says sternly to all his followers: what you do for these little brothers and sisters of mine, the poor, you do it to me; what you do not do to them, you do not do for me. On this you may expect to be judged when you come before the judgment seat of God at which I am your advocate. Don’t leave me saying to my Father about you, “I do not know you.” In this Jesus was echoing all the prophets, for this behavior is mandatory for Jews also. If you are God’s person, you will share what you have with the poor.

It is not optional that we as Christians, or our neighbors as Jews, welcome the stranger and sojourner, the foreigner, the alien, into our midst, into our homelands. We are to welcome refugees and immigrants remembering that our Jewish predecessors in faith were wanderers in the desert, and that there God preserved their life by grace, not merit. When they came into a promised land, it was by divine invitation. History reminds us that the arrival of settlers into an inhabited land is costly to those inhabitants; our ancestors displaced others whose home it was; there was violence. That the ancestors survived and flourished gives us descendants of settlers a burden and responsibility to the descendants of those displaced, and to strangers who come in after us. We live with gratitude not entitlement. We may not slam the door behind us and expect to be welcomed into the heavenly country. If we would receive mercy we must grant mercy. If we would be forgiven, we must forgive. As the First Letter of John says: (4:7-9)“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

It is not optional that we as Christians, or our neighbors as Jews, praise, honor, and worship God, and come together as communities of faith to do this. Just as Jesus himself was continually in the synagogue and at times also in the Temple in Jerusalem joining in the traditional worship of his people as a responsible adult member (though sometimes a critical member), so we owe a duty of worship to God as a first fruit of our lives. We bring offerings. We come into God’s house, we lift our voices, make our confession, pray, give, and sing, upholding others with our presence and prayers as they uphold us week by week. It is not a choice. It is what Christ’s own do. It is not a private matter; we are made part of a larger reality, the Body of Christ, the ecclesia, the Church, by baptism. God desires our presence, and the presence of the children in our care, enacting that we have no other gods but only God.

It is not optional for us as baptized disciples that we love our neighbor as ourselves. We may or may not happen to like some of our neighbors, or agree with them, or vote like them, or appreciate their taste in music, lawn ornaments, dress, food, or pastimes; but God bids us love them. And love requires that we practice justice – that we give each their due as a fellow-creature of God; that we not consume or hoard more than our fair share of the world’s goods at their expense; that we exercise wise discernment about what justice requires of us, and that we be brave, stalwart and self-disciplined in practicing these things even when they are costly and unpleasant to us.

It is not optional that we as Christ’s own put our trust in the One who said to his followers, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”, “Follow me.” This is to say, faith itself is not an option. This isn’t how we are accustomed to think of ‘faith’, which often we reduce to an intellectual agreement, or a feeling of affirmation and confidence; which we often speak about as something of which we have more, or less, in a sliding balance with what we call ‘doubt’. That word ‘faith’ or ‘trust’ in its scriptural origins, remember, refers to the relationship between a captain and a foot soldier; the kind of utter commitment that declares in battle we stand by one another, we have each other’s backs, we give our lives one for another, our loyalty is unswerving when the chips are down. That’s our faith in Jesus Christ, who goes before us in the struggle to establish God’s reign, and in whose suffering and victory we share. We walk the path- the Way that is Christ’s own. We speak and live the Truth that Christ is, that comes from God’s mouth bringing all life into being; we share in the divine life of the one who became humbled to share our humanity as its Savior. We bear that same Spirit in us that was in Jesus. “If we love one another, God lives in us, and God’s love is perfected (fulfilled, matured) in us. By this we know that we abide in God and God in us, because God has given us of God’s Spirit.”

As you look around at the nation and the world- maybe feel overwhelmed, pessimistic, concerned, or maybe hopeful and enthusiastic, you need this strong commitment, this Captain in the fight, this Holy Spirit of love and life, this Messiah who will not put up with untruth, with deceit, with hardheartedness, selfishness, or evil. Gird up your loins. Put on the armor of light. Set fear aside and be of good courage. You were made for this struggle, this work to advance God’s holy reign. You were sealed for this commission. You are the beloved child of God. You are called and chosen and sent to be Christ’s own for ever.


WEEKLY SCHEDULE                          

Office Hours:  
Tuesday 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Thursday 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Friday 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Wednesday: Holy Eucharist 10:00 a.m. 
Sunday: 10:00 a.m.

This is St. John's Episcopal Church...

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 2016:

Rev. Dr. Jennifer M. Phillips
Tuesday, January 10:
7:00 p.m. Bible Study

Wednesday, January 11:
10:00 a.m. Eucharist 

Sunday, Jaunary 15:
10:30 a.m. Service and feast at CHS Mattapan! No service at St. John's.
Carpooling sign ups in the Narthex

Sunday January 29:
Parish Annual Meeting ~ Will be held in church after the 10:00 am worship (with potluck brunch).                                                                                                                     All enrolled adult members are expected to attend and have voice and vote. Other church attendees and youth under 16 may have voice but not vote, under Canons.

To add business items to the agenda, speak to the Rector, or Senior Warden Bob Murphy.

The 2017 Parish Budget will be offered for acceptance – speak to Treasurer Betsy Spear if you have questions.



 Flowers enhance the beauty of our church and greatly contribute to our worship.  We place flowers near the altar to remind us of Creation, which brings us to the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we celebrate every Sunday.  Here at St. John’s, rather than have a general budget item for flowers, we invite our parishioners to provide the flowers in memory or honor of loved ones, or in thanksgiving for special events.  There is a sign up sheet on the bulletin board  on which one may select a Sunday, (or Sundays!), for a special tribute.  The cost for flowers, which the Altar Guild orders, is $35. (Please be sure to note on your payment that it is for flowers.)  We are grateful to  Westwood Gardens Florist, which, for many years, has provided beautiful arrangements to us for a modest price.