Sunday, August 13: 9:00 a.m.
Note Change of time will continue through Labor Day weekend

There will not be any Tuesday Bible Study 
or Wednesday Eucharist until After Labor Day

Proper 14B 8-12-18                                                                         St. John's Church

Rev'd Jennifer Phillips  1 Kings 19:4-8;Ps.130;Eph.4:25-5:2; John 6:35, 42-51

A Summer Prayer....

Dear Creator of the Universe,

There's something on my mind, so I thought I'd write you a letter about it:

So when Genesis says that after creating everything, you rested, I am wondering about that. Did you take a nap? I grew up listening to a record of a choir singing, thanks to Mendelssohn's great oratorio "Elijah", "He watching over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps." The words are from Psalm 12. I sang it in high school choir, too.  Comforting to be watched over, though I wondered whether your attention might wander with a permanent sleep deficit. But then I have no idea how the divine brain works. Now that I am a bit older, I have an increased appreciation of napping. The Huffington Post reports that fully a third of Americans, 83.6 million of us, don't get enough sleep to be healthy. Doctors agree. You would be even more of a role model for us if you were napping on that seventh day.

You may be wondering why I am asking about this. It's the dog days of summer, almost perfectly designed to induce napping. One of my good friends has vowed to learn a foreign language over her summer. Another is painting three rooms of her house while caring for a young grandchild while Mom and Dad travel, and registering voters at a local shopping center. Wow. Admirable! Several acquaintances are touring three countries, hiking up a couple of mountains en route, doing a little plein air painting, taking a French baking course at a country inn (I mean, who doesn't love a fresh home-made baguette and long to rise before dawn to bake a couple before hitting the road for their morning commute? To consider napping in a hammock or lawn chair or beach blanket seems like seriously underperforming. Summer without a list of projects and a timetable? Is that unAmerican? But if you napped, even that once, my slothfulness would not feel so wimpy. Might you actually desire us to rest on a regular basis? - What a concept!

Maybe you didn't nap. I guess you didn't go to the movies, since you didn't actually create those, let alone watch Mama Mia, Here We Go Again, twice over the summer. It's perky, but definitely restful. There's even a baptism scene. My 58 year old Godson cried. But the Bible does say that you looked at what you had created and  "saw that everything was good" back there at the start. I picture you like Vincent Van Gogh, (only more mentally healthy) stepping back from the easel, tapping your chin with the red wooden handle of your camel-hair paintbrush - surely that's why you created camels even before Bedouin needed them to get around the Sahara, and looking at it all. It must have been restful to step back and enjoy the finished work, to just watch the play of colors in the changing light which was the first thing you made. I like to paint. It can't be rushed. You may have something clearly in mind when you start, but when the colors start to flow- the pastels blend, the watercolors run and mix, the oils lay in their neighborly streaks, the acrylics pop - something unforeseen usually emerges. I have to pause at intervals to rest and reimagine. I am convinced you have the eye of the master painter, sculptor, potter - so the line between restful work and active appreciation is thin. Do you love it when we take time to create, to let color and sound and imagination play? Do you sing along under your breath when we give voice to great songs? So God, "if you're all alone, and the pretty birds have flown...take a chance on me."

In summertime I try to cultivate a Sabbath mind. I know this is important to you, since you instructed your people to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy, to celebrate jubilee every seventh year and let even the farmland rest. We are so work-driven. Full time workers in this country work an average of 47 hours a week, many put in a lot more and feel fortunate to have such work.... Jeb Bush apparently thinks we should all work even longer hours to provide better for our families (even if we seldom see them) and improve our national productivity. French workers seem to thrive on 35 hours, with more than twice the vacation days we might take but feel guilty about or even bring our work along - and they invented croissants in their spare time! I hear your Church isn't doing so well in France, but maybe they know something about Sabbath-time that we don't. I suspect they have more fun. It's hard to lubricate a nimble sense of humor if you work 50 hours a week, do texts and emails in the middle of the night, and can't remember what a holiday is like. If you had wanted us to work like automatons every waking minute, surely you would have landed Adam and Eve on a factory floor instead of in a garden. They wouldn't have had time to eat fruit and talk to animals and creation might have been way more orderly...and productive. The ancestors did seem to think that the sweat of the laborer's brow was to be a permanent punishment for their misdeed in Eden . Too bad about that part of the Adam and Eve story.

I wonder, God, whether perhaps you went fishing on your well-earned day off. I can imagine you dipping the divine toes in the mint-condition ocean, cutting a sapling, twisting some vine for line...but what about bait? Oh, maybe the fish were all vegetarian back then. I can almost hear you whispering to that grouper nibbling the seaweed on your line: "Be careful now. You really don't want to get caught, do you. It's only your third day swimming. Shoo! Shoo!" I know some fishers who secretly hope they won't catch anything, though they enjoy the chase...it's really about just standing there with their feet in the water, gazing at the horizon, and feeling really happy. You may have done that too. It may be one of your wishes for us that didn't get written down by the prophets: "feed the hungry, visit the sick, overturn injustice...and go fishing, or just stand there in the pond and be happy for while. Let your heart soften. Let the broken places heal. Feel your energy return, your gratitude. Maybe give your Creator a kind thought!"

Summer is not my favorite time of year, God, but I have decided to thank you for it anyway. I hate humidity, but I am really glad for the green trees recuperating from a few years of drought. I can sense their happiness, their mending. I thank you for slime molds that mysteriously appear in damp mulch, and I love to think of them oozing toward their food sources, zigging and zagging, albeit very slowly, with astonishing intelligence for an ephemeral brainless little organism that looks like vomit. Amazing! I deduce that your sense of humor definitely revived on your sabbath break, since I don't think you had got round to evolving slime molds for a bunch more million years. We are so serious. Our religion is so often very earnest, very sober. Heaven knows there is a lot in our world to be serious, even grim,  about. But Psalm 104 says you "made Leviathan for the sport of it", because it was fun. I went on a whale watch with my little Godson, and I swear the whales were enjoying themselves, despite the noisy boats intruding on their lunch. Did you laugh when the first whale-ancestor breached and slapped its tail at you? Can we learn to love them the way you do...enough not just to buy a ticket, but to clean up the oceans and stop heating them and their habitat up with the self-important exhalations of our civilizations?

In summer, old friends from far off come to visit me and that rests my heart. Maybe you didn't have friends yet at the start of creation, but perhaps you looked forward to having some, even some interesting, or even weird and downright difficult ones, and so you brought us to mind, initiating the divine conversation, the Logos inviting us to join in. Starting with a draft Adam, and Eve, and going on from there with a few improvements along the way.

Later on, God, when you led our Grandfather Abram out of his tent and suggested he look up and count the stars, I am wondering whether you were not so much giving him an extra job, but summoning him to wonder, to just relax about the offspring thing, to try a little wool-gathering and amazement. When the prophet Elijah lay down, disconsolate under the broom tree, you - concerned that the coming journey might be too much for him -gave him deep rest and sent an angel with take-out.  The Book of Hebrews reminds me that faith isn't a piece of work, but rather a sort of open-mindedness, open-heartedness, that dares to wonder about and invest in things not yet seen, and to understand that you who prepared all the worlds that are, started with what was not visible, but came to be, and to be good. Ephesians, this morning, seems to be commending a busy life, but also one with limited time and opportunity to be virtuous, kind, forgiving - to live in love, but still to keep sabbath holy - to believe that we can actually be imitators of you: a pretty tall order.  In this faith we begin to hope for, to dream of, a better country than we know so far, a heavenly country. Dreaming of it, perhaps we begin to build something of the sort we hope for, to make where we are more of a homeland, trusting that you, some summer night when we have left the door open so the stars can shine in as we rest and wait for you, hope in you,  will indeed welcome us home. That's all for now. Hope you are having a great summer!




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
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Jennifer joins us at the Norwood Sports Center for bowling with members of Ecclesia Ministries.

Sunday, August 19:
Worship ~ 9:00 a.m.

There will not be any Tuesday Bible Study 
or Wednesday Eucharist until After Labor Day

Looking Ahead 

August 26th at 9:30am we worship at First Parish UCC, 252 Nahatan St. 
(at Clapboardtree St. intersection). 

September 2 at 9:30 am we worship at First Baptist Church
 808 High St., with our ecumenical neighbors. 
Please come and support these friendships! 
(No services at St. John's those Sundays)

September 22 
8:30 am - 4:00 pm
Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts Ministry Network Showcase
138 Tremont St. Boston
for more information click on the link below

Are you interested in being part of a church bowling league?

We have been contacted by the Unitarian Universalist Society of Wellesley Hills, who are asking churches in the area to consider joining a Sunday night bowling league starting in September. They would like to see if they could get ten teams together. 

Here are the details:          

A team consists of six people

Sunday nights: 7 – 9 P.M.

Start date: September 16, 2018

Location: Kings Dedham – Legacy Place

Duration: Six weeks ~ with a break for Columbus Day

Cost: $324 for a team of six people ($54 perperson). If we are able to get ten teams together amongst the churches the cost will be $270 for a team ($45/person) The price includes 6 nights of bowling and shoe rental.

Note: You must be 21 years of age, as Kings serves adult beverages. Each team will need onecaptain to coordinate and collect fees.

If you are interested, please let us know at the Parish Office by e-mailing mqinn@stpaulsdedham.org or calling 781-326-4553.

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 downtown 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.

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!

Old West Church Boston: Our new site for our monthly Oasis Dinner

Our annual picnic for Ecclesia Ministries at Hale Reservation

B-SAFE field trip to the Capron Park Zoo