Eucharistic Visitor Training
It is a blessing and privilege to take Communion to church members who are ill, in hospital, or unable to leave their homes to come to church. You could be trained for this tender ministry of our congregation. The Diocese is offering a training day Saturday October 24th, 9-4pm at our Cathedral Church of St. Paul (1438 Tremont Street, Boston). you may register online at << www.diomass.org/event/eucharistic-visitor-training-15>> or call Connie Melahoures at 508-367-0516 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Let Rev. Jennifer know if you would like to be licensed to take Communion from St. John’s. This is also a great way to become more comfortable visiting people who are sick or frail.
Sunday, September 6th
The First Baptist Church of Westwood, 808 High Street, has announced that on Wednesday, September 9, they will host a presentation by Gordon S. Grose, author of Tragedy Transformed: How Job’s Recovery Can Provide Hope for Yours, and the public is cordially invited to attend. A potluck supper will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the church’s Fellowship Hall, and Grose’s presentation will follow at 7:15 p.m. Those who wish to attend the supper are asked to bring a salad or entrée to share; beverages and dessert will be provided. In addition, copies of Tragedy Transformed will be available for purchase and signing, and a free will offering will be received to help Dr. Grose’s ministries.
Growing and Thriving
Do you have a deep love for St. John’s? A commitment to help it grow and thrive? An enjoyment of people – both those you know and new acquaintances? We have good news to share: a loving and merciful God, a Savior who stopped at nothing to redeem us and the creation, a life-giving Spirit that dwells in us, a warm and healthy congregation that truly desires to make room for more people of every age and background and family constellation.
As the congregation returns from summer travels, I’d love to gather a welcome and growth team to work with me on helping Westwood folk know more about St. John’s, strategic advertising and PR, greeting and following up with newcomers, and events open to our wider community. We’ll work with the vestry to make St. John’s not just welcoming but enticing. We’ll dream up some lovely fellowship events and newcomer greeting events.
As we are working on the space for greater hospitality and flexibility, so we need also to work on enhancing life together that includes everyone God brings through our doors, and energy that goes out into neighborhoods in our town to invite people and to connect with them where they are. If you have ideas to share, and kindliness to spare, talk to Rev. Jennifer and consider being part of the team.
“The church exists in part to remind our modern materialistic society that we are the stewards of our abundance and not the creators of it, and that God is the source of all creation.” [Episcopal Church Foundation] All that we are and have comes from and returns to God. Please consider a bequest to St. John’s Church.
Imagine our worship space lightened and brightened with comfortable flexible seating…. here’s a church somewhat similar to ours just to give you an idea…
1 The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,*
the world and all who dwell therein.
2 For it is the Lord who founded it upon the seas*
and made it firm upon the rivers of the deep. – Ps. 24
St. John’s Church
Pentecost 14, Proper 17B* 8/30/15 St. John’s Church, Westwood
Rev’d Jennifer Phillips Song 2:8-13; James 1:17-27;Mark 7:1-23
I suspect Mary is standing in the back of the crowd wondering whether she should have washed his mouth out with soap!
Today’s Gospel lesson from Mark is delicately pruned by the shapers of church lectionaries and by translators to clean up the graphic bathroom language that Jesus chooses to deconstruct some of the most precious ideologies of his religious opponents. After all, the religious establishment (every religious establishment!) is founded on the careful observance of the rules and values handed down over generations: in this case an elaborate code of purity regulations founded mostly in the Biblical book of Leviticus associated with the teachings of Moses, and designed to keep the Israelite people separate, clearly identifiable, healthy and orderly from ancient times. The teachers of the Torah understood their duty to include not only passing on the rules, but also developing policies that set “a fence” around the law, adding layers of protection to keep the people from infringing the core commandments, or even coming close to doing so.
We today in our culture of antibacterial soaps and disinfectants would surely nod our heads, along with our Jewish neighbors, at the rule about washing hands before one eats, especially food meant to be eaten with the fingers. All the more so in a culture without such amenities as bathroom plumbing, paper towels, and toilet paper. So Jesus really gets their and our attention by defying such a sensible everyday rule in front of everybody. He is asked to explain why he is breaking the traditions of Moses. Missing from today’s portion, in verses 9-13, is an argument about honoring father and mother: one of the ten commandments, the core of Torah. Jesus attacks a contemporary practice which allows a man to designate a portion of his assets as a sort of religious restricted trust fund, to be paid to the Temple upon his death, so that his beneficiaries -- children, spouse, and more importantly in those days with no social security, dependent parents -- could have no claim on the funds. Or -- in instances of religious coercion -- where authorities like some of the scribes and Pharisees and Levites listening to Jesus might demand such dedicated gifts of religiously observant people, impoverishing their families. Does such officially sanctioned withholding from one’s needy parents constitute pure behavior, Jesus wants to know?
And from that stunning example, he passes on to a teaching more aimed at the crowd around him -- who might well have no estate to leave their parents or children anyway. What makes a person impure, or debased, common?
I actually like that term, probably because of my maternal grandmother who used it a lot. Though she was a servant in her young working days, from a very poor English family of farm laborers, she would say of people who did disgusting, deceitful, or dishonorable things, and especially of those having power or position who treated more vulnerable or poor people than themselves with derision and disrespect: “He’s common!” Or “She’s no better than she ought to be!” Such people belonging in the gutter far more than those who might have the misfortune to have been born there. In Greek, that word porneia, which gives English porno-graphy (literally common, vulgar, or base, writing) has this sense about it - not specifically about sex, which is our first association with the word, but about being debased, the lowest common denominator, gutter-behavior, lewd and uncivil speech. Such conduct, Jesus points out, is not according to what a person takes in but to what they put out -- and here, with a bit of irony and humor, Jesus is using graphic bathroom language -- what gets excreted out (to put it graciously) of the bowels into the sewer (so says verse 19, tidied out of today’s reading).
But then Jesus goes on to list the vices (as ancient philosophers, including Paul, loved to do), and his list is a commonplace one: infidelities; prostitutions [meaning both idolatry, coercive sex between unequal partners, and sexual exploitation], murders, thefts, insatiable appetites, malicious behaviors (doing harm for fun, for profit, for revenge), “fish-baits” [deceits, lies, twisted words], wanton brutal acts, an evil eye[i.e. malignant, villainous, cowardly, or malicious bahvior designed to wound or destroy], blasphemies, arrogance, air-headedness [foolishness, mindlessness, carelessness] - these are the things that make a human being common, says Jesus, and they come from the heart and mind and mouth, not from the digestive tract. This is as blunt a teaching as Jesus ever gives about right and wrong living, about purity and goodness, evil and base behavior. We are common when our speech is vulgar, dismissive, and insulting; we are common when we give our time and attention to idiotic pursuits and violent and degrading entertainments; when we deceive people and delude ourselves that this doesn’t matter and doesn’t change us for the worse. We are common when we hurt others and don’t care. Or when we make it funny to degrade someone else.
It’s so easy now- to post an unflattering photo of someone just for fun on FaceBook, to pass on vulgar comments that we allow to rivet our attention, to slam people with whom we disagree. As easy as a click and it’s out there for ever for everyone to share. It’s so easy running for office to distort another candidate’s behavior to look bad. It's so easy as a news editor to choose horrible photos of celebrities one disfavors and flattering ones of the chosen favorites. It’s so easy to bend the numbers and lie a little. It’s easy to use profane language because it’s cool or the habit of a group and believe it doesn’t matter. Jesus would have us know that all these ways of acting change us from the inside, and change our society, so that it becomes okay to speak crudely and treat others roughly, and then toss it off as a joke, or worse, hold it up as the unvarnished truth, admirable plain speaking. In fact, it is a form of pornography, and contains seeds of violence. Most genocidal movements begin with such speech, that makes its objects less than human. Jesus could’t be more blunt in accusing the power-brokers of his day of common speech.
This passage from Mark is quite a contrast to the relatively lofty language of the much later teaching of the Letter of James from the mid-second century: religious practice that is pure and undefiled before God is to care for widows and orphans in their distress (good Law of Moses behavior with which, of course, Jesus would agree!) and to keep oneself unstained from the world. Jesus’ disciples, living among the poorest of the itinerant poor most of the time had little option to avoid the stains of the world, or even to wash their hands on the road before meals, but they did come to understand something of what it meant to answer to the highest calling of God to have only good come out of one’s heart and mind and mouth: (the opposite of the vice list): faithfulness, generosity, temperance, kindness, truthfulness, healing, mercy, reverence, self-discipline, protection of the vulnerable, forgiveness, humility, and good sense and wise discernment. Practice these things!
The illustrations of the Gospels make clear that such godly conduct is independent of class or social or religious station: a formerly crazy woman might anoint Jesus’ feet, a prostitute and a tax collector might be his close associates or host him at supper, the dirtiest beggar, the demented person covered with sores, or the most unlovable foreigner might be pointed out by Jesus as the very one who would be welcomed into the banquet of heaven before the upright citizens with their clean hands, or the religiously “pure” who withhold their hearts from others in order to be more spotless in their own eyes. Or politicians who don’t know the difference between bullying speech and forthright civil discourse, between truth and personal attack! Or business leaders who don’t discern a difference between effective business, and exploitation, greed and theft.
Jesus reconstructs the whole old-fashioned notion of purity toward what he believes matters most - what comes from our hearts and minds toward God, our families, and our neighbors: not a keeping apart, but a generous going towards the world to heal, to love, to serve, to give ourselves unstintingly, and to practice graciousness, courtesy, kindness and mercy. As we open our hearts, we find ourselves invited in to the banquet of God, into the flow of divine energy, into peace and joy.
What Hate Burns, Love Rebuilds
In an effort to demonstrate that "what hate burns, love rebuilds," Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal) in St. Louis has established a "Rebuild the Churches" fund to support churches targeted by arsonists last month.
Bishop Alan M. Gates and Bishop Gayle E. Harris invite congregations and individuals in the Diocese of Massachusetts to consider gathering support for the effort.
"At the end of June, four predominantly black churches were burned down by arsonists in a clear attempt to strike a blow at the heart of the black community. As fellow children of God, we stand with our sisters and brothers to help them rebuild these buildings--which are not just houses of worship but centers of ministry for their community," the "Rebuild the Churches" giving site says.
Money raised through this effort will be divided equally among Glover Grove Baptist Church in Warrenville, S.C., College Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., Briar Creek Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., and God's Power Church of Christ in Macon, Ga. Others will be added to the distribution list if necessary, according to the site.
"Communities of all faiths are invited to hold special offerings as a sign of interfaith solidarity against racism and with our sisters and brothers of faith," according to the site, where a list is posted of those churches that have already agreed to take up a special collection at least once during July.
In addition to special collections taken up this summer in support of the burned churches, individuals may also donate online or send checks to Christ Church Cathedral with "Rebuild the Churches Fund" in the memo line. Checks should be mailed to: Rebuild the Churches, c/o Christ Church Cathedral, 1210 Locust Street, St. Louis, MO 63103.
More information is available at the "Rebuild the Churches" giving site, here.
*****Send a Selfie to our Church.
We would like to create a photo board to help members and newcomers recognize each other and learn all our names. Please send a photo with your name as you wish to be called.
Why are we planning to spend money on beautifying our worship space with color, comfortable, attractive seating, good lighting, textiles and vestments? Some will ask: shouldn’t all that money be spent on outreach, or education?
There are reasons rooted in our identity as Anglicans and Episcopalians that we care so much about our physical plant and the aesthetics of our worship.
In the history of philosophy, if you take the triad of goodness, truth and beauty: beauty is defined as wherever truth and goodness are present or longed-for. In the history of philosophy you can start with any one of the triad and look for the other two. It is our Anglican way to start with beauty, then move to goodness and truth. Our spirituality is incarnational: God came to us in a human being – Jesus. Along with Genesis’ message that God found the creation good, the incarnate God communicates that the body and pleasure are all right, and the world is not negative for the most part, even though sinfulness and mishap tarnish its beauty. God is hospitable, so God formed the creation to be not simply functional but beautiful, delightful, even elegant.
So typically, we Episcopalians do not see money spent on art, music, architecture, as a denial of care for the poor, because our experience says that if you don’t know what beauty is you are not going to live with goodness. We enter by the door of beauty - not better than the other denominations of Christians, just our starting point. Our buildings and ground matter; our music matters. These are avenues through the senses to appreciate the sublime beauty of God.
Anglicans embrace the arts as a primary way of praying and being formed in prayer. Stained glass, poetry, painting, dance, theatre, sculpture, novels, architecture, the furnishings, flowers, vestments, and space of worship - communicate the divine to us and help us become more holy through our sensual. These are not adornments, but essentials. It makes sense to us that people spend money on making church beautiful. Our prayer is rooted in appreciation… God comes to us on every channel of our being. (Thus we also fight about our buildings and sometimes over-venerate them!) We like real bread and wine, abundant water and fragrant oil, (and lots of us like incense.) - we like things to both mean and be. We like them to be beautiful.
Our building is ungainly – a Gothic shaped nave with modernist additions. But it is blessed with a wonderful acoustic for voices and instruments which we must preserve through the careful balance of hard and soft surfaces. It’s towers afford some nice light cast on the front wall, and some of the colors in the stained glass will form the palette for enhanced color that will be visible from every seat. We can work with our heritage to make it even more lovely, so that all who enter are moved to appreciate and to pray.
LYRA is coming – fabulous á cappella vocal artists from Russia will visit and give a concert at St. John’s for the wider community September 10th – half their music is sacred, from the rich choral harmony tradition of Russian Orthodoxy; half is folk music, costumed and lively. The group which sends young professional and semi-professional vocalists in batches of 6-8 on tour each year in the USA asks for lodging in parishioners’ homes, and breakfast and a dinner during their stay – I hope we can serve a parish dinner for the group when they arrive, likely the evening of Sept. 9th. They will rehearse, and sing the evening of the 10th and depart the morning of Sept. 11th. In my experience, some speak fluent English, some are new to the language and love the chance to practice – they are courteous and wonderful guests. Our job is to invite the wider community in, make sure they sell lots of tickets, and stock up on their CDs for Christmas gifts for all our friends and relations. They rely on this income and donations to pay their travel expenses. The music is exquisite – so mark your calendar. If you have a bed to offer for the night, please speak to Jennifer (you may specify male or female if you wish).
Lyra - Benidiction_1.f4v
Nov 16, 2011 - Uploaded by RevColinSJM'Benediction' is one of the fifteen tracks on the CD 'Beautiful Sound, recorded in St Petersburg by the ...
Sad news of the death of Patricia Corrigan
COLRAIN - Corrigan, Patricia Vallone of Colrain, Ma., formerly of Brookline, passed away on July 7th at the age of 61 after a gallant battle against pain and sickness. Born in New York City, she grew up in Mahwah New Jersey. After graduating from Boston University with a major in Russian History, she married, raised her children and worked for the remainder of her life in Massachusetts.
She contributed mightily and faithfully to all of the communities, institutions and businesses that she was associated with, particularly at Hale and Dorr as a Paralegal in the Intellectual Property Department, at Northfield Mount Hermon School in the Human Resources Department and at St. John's Church in Westwood and the Church of Our Saviour in Brookline. Her keen intelligence, wit, loyalty, and generosity were exceptional. She was beautiful and brought beauty to all things.
Loving daughter of Pasquale Vallone and Gladys Donnelly Vallone of Freehold, NJ and dear sister of Kathleen Sherman of Holmdel, NJ, Patricia is survived by her loving husband, Rev. Michael Corrigan of Colrain, her beloved sons James Salvatore Corrigan and Patrick Donnelly Corrigan both of New York City, step-children Nell W. Corrigan and Samuel J. Corrigan, her brothers-in-law Terry Sherman, Patrick Corrigan and John Corrigan and her sisters-in-law Marcia Stevens, Elizabeth Ingalls and Cornelia Corrigan. She is also survived by her many nephews, nieces and her step grandsons.
A service to celebrate her life will take place on Friday, July 17 at 2:00 p.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church, Ashfield, Ma. Burial in Colrain will be private.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Franklin County Community Meals Program.
Church Newsletter for Idea's
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