March 25, 10:00 a.m.
Palm Sunday

Lent 5B 3-18-18                                                                                   St. John's Church

Rev'd Jennifer Phillips                                    Jer.31:31-34;Heb.5:5-10;Jn.12:20-33

Some Greeks come seeking the Holy One. "We wish to see Jesus," they beg Philip the disciple, very politely. They are hoping to find and follow a wise teacher so that they could become more wise, to join his school. Likely they didn't intend to have their whole lives broken open and transformed by the wild wisdom of the Gospel!

John's Gospel responds to this request of the foreign God-seekers with a snapshot of Jesus offering a riff on what service looks like for Jesus-followers - as if to say, "Be careful what you ask for! This is where it likely will lead you, as it has me: to losing your life, to entering into struggle against the destructive powers and rulers of this world (the way thousands of students did this past Wednesday calling for moderate gun regulation for safety), to leaving everything familiar, to suffering and dying, trusting that you will be - with me - lifted up and drawn into the heart of the Divine." So you also, when you seek God, when you take seriously your baptismal calling, when you desire to see and know God more intimately, be careful what you ask for!

St. Augustine wrote [On Christian Doctrine 1:8] "Anyone who thinks of God as anything other than Life itself has an absurd notion of God." He recognized that all words and descriptions fall short of the indescribable Holy One, but that God nonetheless invites us humans to offer our thanks and praise in the language and ideas we have. The metaphors Jesus offers in John's Gospel point us in the right direction, alluding to the Divine, not defining God, as the Way, the Truth, Life. To seek to perceive God, he taught, we must make the effort to purify ourselves and live virtuously, following the pattern of holy living which we have in Jesus the Incarnate Wisdom of God. To seek to know, enjoy, and praise God is happiness. Happiness as a philosopher friend of mine puts it "is not a matter of what's going on in one's life", for better or worse. It's not about circumstances. "It is, rather, a settled disposition based on trust in life." I love that: a settled disposition based on trust in life. Having a disposition to love the things God has made - the beauty of the world, the dear people around us - simply because they are lovely and loveable is good, but such love of things should go on to prompt us to love the Maker and Giver of them, the unchangeable Source of all beauty and loveliness, who is Love; the source of all life who is Life; the source of all that is true who is Truth. As a teacher, in one of the metaphors Augustine uses, he says: when I point at a star in the night sky, don't just look at my finger, see and appreciate the light of the star to which I point. So this Lent, keep looking further.  Enlarge your love!

When someone gives you a perfect bouquet of flowers, you don't stop at enjoying and being thankful for the flowers; you enjoy and are thankful for the giver whose love is expressed in the gift. The flowers are intended to connect you lovingly to that giver. And when those flowers fade and die as they will, the loving connection does not dwindle and disappear because the petals turn brown. This Lent, receive the world anew as God's gift and let the world connect you more lovingly to God whose love never fades or disappears.

If your parents were to bequeath you their house and you were to neglect it and let damp and dirt spread inside it, or if you were recklessly to build a fire and leave it unguarded so that the house catches alight and burns down, would that be a good reason to curse your parents for the gift and complain that they did not give you a fire- and water-proof building? Or for not raising you to be smarter? Surely not. And yet we, enjoying the precious gift and inheritance of the world and the human community often despise God and doubt God's goodness when the world causes us injury or pain, and when fires of human violence rage and destroy, do we not? "God does not willingly afflict nor grieve human beings" says the Book of Lamentations [3:33].

This Lent, have a settled disposition to stop blaming God for the work of evil, and set out to see clearly, to confront evil, and to repair, restore, and rebuild what has broken down. We are those who carry responsibility for the inheritance put into our hands.

Remember that story of Moses which describes how, when the prophet came down from the Holy Mountain carrying the stone tablets on which the core of the law was written, he saw that in his short absence the people had abandoned their trust in God, lost their sense of purpose, and forsaken their moral compass. So in anger he smashed the stones on the ground. Maybe it is a parable of sort - that every set of legal tablets is bound to get smashed in the face of recurring, dreadful, wanton human bad behavior. The only divine covenant that we manage to preserve unbroken, the only law that changes us, and persists, and repairs the world little by little, is the law that is written on our hearts. What we take in deeply draws us into the love of God from the inside out. We are engraved on God's palms; God's law must be written in our hearts. This Lent, keep praying for that inner transformation, that law of love, to be inscribed on your heart so that you may know it and do it. This is the only happiness truly worth having, a friendship with God who is Way, Truth and Life. This Lent, develop in yourself an intention, a habit of mind and heart, a settled disposition based on trust in Life.

WEEKLY SCHEDULE                          

Office Hours:  
Tuesday 2:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday 2:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Friday 2:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Sunday Worship:  10:00  a.m. 
Wednesday Eucharist: 10:15 a.m.

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 2017:

Rev. Dr. Jennifer M. Phillips

Tuesday, March 20, 6:30 p.m. 
Lenten Bible Study:
Join us in the rectory for our Lenten journey through prayer and reflection on The Gospel According to John.  The series, designed by the Society of St. John the Evangelist and The Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary, promises to be a wonderful opportunity to make new or stronger relationships with God and with your fellow parishioners. Soup at 6:30 followed by our study.  We will wrap things up by 9.

Wednesday, March 21
Eucharist ~ 10:15

Sunday, March 25, 10:00 a.m.
Worship ~Palm Sunday

Services of Holy Week 2018

The services of Holy Week make up a single narrative guiding the people to journey with Jesus through the final days of his life and ministry - from the joyful entry into Jerusalem through the Last Supper and arrest, interrogation and crucifixion, burial, and triumphant resurrection. Each service bring its own beauty, as in our bodies and souls, we are shaped into the likeness of Christ.

Though some are evening services, these are child-friendly... with movement, processions, and enacted story.

We at St. John's never mind the sounds of children at worship!

March 24 Saturday- "Walk with Jesus through Holy Week- for children"

9:30-11:30am: crafts and activities, song and storytelling to help even the littlest ones enter into the journey of Jesus.

"March for Our Lives" Saturday the 24th noon-5 in Boston -a parish group may wish to carpool to the T (following the children's program) to participate in this civic demonstration to preserve the lives of schoolchildren and all of us from gun violence.

Sunday March 25, 10 am Palm Sunday procession & Passion drama read in parts by the congregation during the Eucharist helps us journey to the Holy city with a joyful crowd of pilgrims only to face the powers of empire that put Jesus to death but cannot end his story.

Weekday services:

Mon 7 am, Holy Eucharist

Tues evening after Lent program & supper in the rectory at 6:30 -Night Prayers 8:30,

Wed. 10:15am Holy Eucharist

Great Three Days and Easter:  

Maundy Thursday with soup supper 7pm: Like Jesus we share a simple meal, wash one another in humble service, and remember the tenderness of the Last Supper in a Eucharist using the most ancient prayer. With Jesus we may keep short vigil in the garden (ending at 9pm) from which he was arrested by night.

Good Friday 7pm  with a cappella baroque vocal ensemble. Come to the Cross in this solemn liturgy and receive pre-sanctified bread for the journey. But even the Cross is back lit by Easter hope!

Holy Saturday noonday prayers, after the Altar Guild has prepared the church for Easter starting at 11;

The Great Vigil of Easter - The high-point of the Christian year: kindling the new fire, passing the light, the salvation story, baptismal water, and the first Eucharist of Easter, begins at 8pm. Please bring some finger-food to share afterwards.

Easter Sunday  April 1, 10 am - can you dye a box of red eggs and deliver no later than 9am or the day before?

Bring your friends and your children's friends to a festival Easter Eucharist with a  kids' sermon & egg hunt and festive coffee hour.

Christian Discipleship in Action via St. John’s

Come join in:

Oasis Ministrieswe cook and serve a monthly hot chicken dinner to about 100 homeless neighbors in down- town Boston on 2nd Mondays.

Ecclesia outreachwe invite homeless and poor neighbors to Hale Reservation for a summer picnic and for a Spring bowling afternoon in Norwood.

Tutoring after-school reading and homework help for city children at Church of the Holy Spirit, Mattapan on Tuesday afternoons.

Pantry support for the Westwood Food Pantry and the Center for Life elderly housing complex in Mattapan – bring non-perishable groceries to church year round.

Habitat for Humanity home buildcoming soon, a St. John’s team to help build an affordable home in Westwood.

Prayer Shawlsknitting group prayerfully makes shawls for people facing illness or crisis.

Urban Promise Honduras missioners from St. John’s & CHS travel to learn and work with children at a school in Copan every few years.

Boston B-SAFE summer program our team works during a July week each year to provide meals and a field trip & picnic for this large city children’s program.

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.

Speak to Rev. Jennifer if you’d like to put your discipleship to work in one or more of these parish ministries!

Above: warming many pans of chicken; Below: a moment of levity with fellow volunteers from Church on the Hill, Boston (January 8)