Sunday, July 26th
FREE ICE CREAM CONE DAY
JULY 26TH 1:30PM-3:30PM
WITH BALLOON ARTIST KATHERINE KEVORKIAN
SPONSORED BY WESTWOOD FAMILY CHIROPRACTIC
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
Pentecost 9, Proper 11B 7-21-15 St. John’s Church, Westwood
Rev’d Jennifer Phillips 2 Sam.7:1-14;Eph.2:11-22;Mk6:30-34-53-56
A subtext of the lessons for today might be: Remember how things used to be for you who now have power, security, health, status when once you had none of these things! Don’t forget where you came from and by whose power.
Jesus has huge and visceral compassion for the poor and sick people who trailed after him taxing the resources of the disciples, and maybe even his own. “They were like sheep without a shepherd,” he saw. These residents of a great empire’s margins were desperate enough to walk miles with no provisions, to carry their dear ones who were sick big distances in the hope for help, who begged to touch his coat-tails – something that had proved transformative for that woman with the hemorrhage, and was apparently so for many others as well.
Ephesians asks the Gentiles in the community to remember what their lives were like before they became followers of Christ – hopeless and Godless, estranged and mired in hostility. Remember! Now that you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God…joined together in Christ. Remember the peace you now have and are part of. Live lives worthy of being a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.
King David is settled – perhaps to settled- in his grand house in a city that bears his name, his enemies conquered for the moment, his kingdom enjoying some peace and prosperity. Samuel is gone and Nathan is the chief prophet, and like his predecessor seems to carry the king’s conscience, when David misplaces it! He is enjoying God’s favor, perhaps a bit too much. God’s words given to Nathan to carry to the king are a mild rebuke: you who boats about wanting to build a house fit for God to dwell in, it is I, God, who am building your house. When I desire more than the tent I now inhabit among Israel, it is not you but your descendent whom I will allow to build it, after you are dead. My favor will pass to another. I the Lord of Hosts, do these things – not you. Remember when you were just a shepherd!
There aren’t many kings and queens in the room this morning, yet there are quite a few who enjoy comfortable wealth, our own lovely houses, some social status as accomplished professionals with sought-after skills, good reputations, and security. Perhaps to us also, God would say, “Remember where you came from and what you had when you were starting out. Remember being lower on the professional totem pole, being maybe the new kid, the new immigrant family, Remember when you were just the kid sister or brother, or the underdog on your team. Remember the gifts of grace you have received through your life and where you now sit. Don’t be arrogant. Don’t take it all for granted. Don’t think for a moment that the Holy One is not in charge. Don’t treat the people under your power and authority dismissively or roughly. Don’t earn your ego strength at someone else’s expense. Don’t retaliate when you feel scratched, just because you can do so with impunity.
Our church in Westwood is very blessed. We are together blessed that you personally are here, that you contribute your love and labor and financial resources to our common life and mission. We as a church enjoy more resources to contribute than many others. We have collectively a ton of education. We are relatively well off – some more than others, which can make it hard for those who do not enjoy prosperity, we must never forget! Quite a few of you are shakers and movers in the wider community and in your workplace. Never forget your neighbor who may be unemployed or under-employed or who has fallen into debt! We have a good solid church building, though not as lovely as some might wish, and you all have chipped in some capital to repair and improve it. God tents here among us and perhaps we feel God’s favor in all this.
But that favor does not come because we are special, and it does not allow us to think we are building a house for God that is better than the next church, nor that God is more present than with the guests eating sandwiches out in the weather on Boston Common at Oasis ministry whom we helped to feed last Monday! We enjoy God’s favor when our energies align with the divine energies to feed and heal, to labor and build. Blessings flow to us as we give generously not as a reward but as God’s energies and our energies collaborate in transforming lives, in repairing creation, and we glimpse this in the faces of the people and communities we serve.
The two first places to look for a reflection of where our soul is, where our heart is, may well be our checkbook or credit card statements, and our daily calendar. Where do we invest our time? Where do we spend our money, be it a lot or a little? How generous are we? How trusting are we in the importance of the work of God’s reign? So as a spiritual exercise this month, flip through the past year of payments, the past seven month of your Daytimer, looking with the eyes of a stranger who might have found your records in some archive after you are long gone. What would that person deduce about what mattered to you? What of your heart would show to that other? What might God say about it all?
I remember the first time I did this – when I was a young adult (now every tax season brings the reality only too clearly before my eyes!). Back then, when I only had money from a fast food waitress job, a savings account with a hundred dollar balance, no house to care for, no health insurance… like lots of young folks just starting out. I went through a few months of unemployment and desperate job-hunting and hitting the day-old baked goods aisle in the Piggly Wiggly.
One Sunday I heard a sermon about “where your treasure is, your heart is also” that got me into a reflective mood. The $5 a week I dropped into the church collection plate didn’t even show up in my checking account though it made me feel good at the time. The two hours a week I spent volunteering in the community barely made a dent in my calendar. Yet I realized that when I prayed, I was full of requests and needs, wanting God to do good things for me and for people I cared about. I didn’t pay nearly as much attention to all the gifts I already enjoyed – the health, the peaceful country, the friends, the food sufficient, the teachers who were generous with their time and expertise. That was the year I first made a pledge to my church. It was a well-heeled suburban parish and my paltry pledge felt embarrassing, but it was a solid commitment. I then decided to move toward tithing, first of my left-over money, later of my earnings. Over the decades, some years I’ve come closer to the goal and a few years surpassed it. This doesn’t feel like virtue, just like being a grown-up member of a community larger than myself in which I can pass on the blessings that flow my way to my current church, to charities, and to churches I have been part of in the past and all their good work.
I grew up in an evangelical Protestant environment in which the media spokespeople for Christianity often said in one set of words or another: if you give lots of money to our church, God will reward you with abundant riches and a great return on your investment. You’ll be happy and wealthy and protected. I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe that. I believe Jesus told his followers not to be worried and preoccupied with what they had or didn’t have, to live trustingly and give bravely. I believe he spoke of the inheritance of eternal life and glory for those in God’s household. But in this world, he also taught that the disciples should bear up under suffering and loss, persecution, shame, spitting and crucifixion. Living righteously does not insulate Christians against these things- nor against homelessness, illness, loss of job, wrongful accusation, or unfair treatment. So we must never spread a theology that implies that people who are poor, or ill, or suffering great misfortune have failed to be virtuous, failed to have enough or the right faith, failed to have a good enough character. It is not our place to judge who suffers because of divine displeasure nor who prospers because of divine favor. In fact, by the standards of the Gospel, we might have it quite backwards! Such little ones were among those with whom Jesus spent a lot of time and energy in blessing and encouraging.
Bottom line, we give out from what we have and what we are, of compassion, out of a generous and thankful heart, out of a passion to see the world move more into the likeness of God’s reign – even if it’s just by a new coat of paint, or a cup of soup, or a kind act toward a stranger. Remembering where we have come from, having fortitude to bear what suffering comes our way, we put our love out there into the world like casting bread on the waters, not knowing where it will end up or what good it may accomplish, doing our small part to go with the flow of divine energy and love.
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.
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).
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.
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