October 13,  10:00 a.m.
Blessing of the Animals

St. Francis Sunday- blessing of animals 10-13-19                         St. John's Church

Rev'd Jennifer Phillips                                              Genesis 2:18-24; Mark 10:13-16


Maybe some of you grew up reading, or hearing read to you, the Just So Stories of Rudyard Kipling - and if not, incidentally, this is one of the nest bedtime read-aloud books for kids ever written! The Book of Genesis in the Bible has two creation stories, back to back, in its first two chapters...and these, too, are great read-aloud stories in Hebrew - wonderful words and rhythms. Take  look - the world and all its creatures are created - twice! (And then the later book of Job has another version of a creation story.) The Genesis stories come from two different places in the ancient Near EAst: one a dry desert, the other a moist and misty river area. Each draws from even more ancient local mythology. Right there in the Hebrew words of the first story is the Storm God,  and the Sea mother-Monster Ti-Amat, and the Great Deep, the formless and empty (tohu v'bohu) water-void where she lives in the darkness until she is conquered by the god. Like many wonderful myths, these biblical ones are colorful and strange- with the talking snake (in Hebrew this story has great puns), the magic forbidden tree of knowledge and the other tree of life. What each of them says in the telling is that the one true and most powerful God - (called often in the Old Testament Adonai, translated The Lord, and Elohim (the word for gods-plural - meaning all gods wrapped up into one,) brought into being everything that is. God starts with making light out of darkness, then dry land and water, then all the plants and animals and finally humanbeings - first one original mud-creature called Adam - from the Hebrew word for ground or mud, adamah. This creature God divides into two, a male and a female part, and the story goes on to say these divided two - who get into trouble right away with the fruit and the snake and not accepting the rules of the garden - get sort-of stuck back together when two people marry each other. The teller of the second story (some of which we just heard) adds that idea on to the story at the end as his editorial comment: "therefore ( or "so, you see,") a man leaves his mom and dad and sticks to his woman" - the word suggests they are glued to each other. Kind of a funny image, I think.

What matters most about the first story is that God makes everything that is and at the finish, calls everything Good! God loves the work God has done; each creature, God loves. Then God takes a nap. And in the second story, which is very people-centered, things are created in a slightly different order, but at the finish, there they all are, and God gives every creature momentum and instruction to go on being, go out through the world, and keep reproducing and spreading out, with the humans being the stewards to keep things orderly and cared for on God's behalf - the gardeners in the garden. This does not go well, as you know. SO God in that story kicks Adam and the woman that tradition names Eve (in Hebrew Hava), mother-of-life, out from the garden of Eden into the rough world where they must make their own garden -a farm to feed themselves. Hard work and raising kids is supposed to keep them out of more trouble - but that plan doesn't work out for God either.

Ancient storytellers conveying some pretty basic truths about God - the loving creator who expects the best of all the creatures and loves them, and about human beings who are divided against their own natures, refuse to follow instructions, and are often selfish, violent, and negligent about taking care of the rest of creation. We know that much is true, even in our own experience.

Unlike those ancient people, we are in a time where there are so very many of us living so self-centeredly just as we like, that the planet is on overload and we are ruining not just patches of it - like the Amazon rainforest or California or the Arctic and Siberia - we are ruining the whole system: the waters, the air, the ground - the climate itself on which we and all creatures rely for health and life.

We heard today another little story from the Gospel of Mark - a story of Jesus, scolding his friends who are trying to shoo little kids away from him. No! Jesus says. Don't you dare send them away. My Father's house - the reign of heaven - is just like these children, they get it better than you grown-ups who are being thoughtless and arrogant, thinking you have me all for yourself.

So today I, and we together, should give special thanks for all the children: for Greta Thunberg from Sweden, 16 years old, speaking so eloquently to shame powerful adults for not taking care of the environment; Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg and their colleagues, from Parkland High School, speaking so eloquently and shaming powerful adults for not doing even the simplest things to reduce gun-violence in the USA; Malala Yusefzai, shot by the Taliban  for being a Pakistani Muslim girl going to school, who survived and is a world leader for education of girls; Autumn Peltier, 13 years old, CAnadian Anishanaabe -Wikwemikong First Nation girl nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize, recognized as a "water protector" for her leadership in calling for the preservation of clean drinking water for all since she was 8. These are among the prophets of our time.

And we recommit ourselves to being the careful stewards of the earth and its creatures for God.  We try to see each creature the way God sees them: with love, with respect for their dignity and their need to be, to live in safety, to eat and drink and raise families in a healthy environment. Today we start right here at home, by giving thanks to God for, and asking God to watch over and bless, the animals that are nearest and dearest to us, and promising to do our part for them. We know this is just the beginning. There are so many other creatures, not so cute and cuddly, on planet earth that also need protecting from human beings. We pray for and try to think of them all today with open, warm and generous hearts! And our children lead us.



 95 Deerfield Ave
 Westwood, MA 02090

WEEKLY SCHEDULE                          

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 2018:

Rev. Dr. Jennifer M. Phillips
  Jennifer blessing Jackie & Jack's lab on October 13                                                                                                                       

Tuesday, October 15, 7:00 p.m.: Bible Study in the Rectory,  followed by Celtic style Compline, 8:30 p.m. 

Wednesday, October 16, 10:15 a.m.:
Holy Eucharist 

Sunday, October 20, 10:00 a.m.:
Holy Eucharist
K- 5 and High School classes

Tuesday, October 22, 7:00 p.m.: Bible Study in the Rectory,  followed by Celtic style Compline, 8:30 p.m. 

Wednesday, October 23, 10:15 a.m.:
Holy Eucharist 

Sunday, October 27, 10:00 a.m.:
Holy Eucharist
K- 5 and Middle School classes meet

Looking ahead:
Please put this date on your calendar:
Saturday, December 7, 9:00 a.m.  - Noon, St. John's Christmas Fair!
We are taking part with other churches and stores in the Westwood Weekend Stroll!

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

Christian Discipleship in Action via St. John’s

Come join in:

Oasis Ministrieswe cook and serve a monthly hot chicken dinner to about 60 homeless neighbors at Old West Church in Boston on 2nd Mondays.

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

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.

Prayer Shawlsknitting 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.

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