October 25 10:00 a.m.

Welcome! St. John’s is open for worship on the back lawn, Sundays at 10 am weather permitting. Bring your lawn chair and mask! 
Morning Prayer together for those who feel able to come, and live streamed on FB for those who want to participate from home.  

Hi!! from St. John's

Health and Wellness Participant Screening:

Every parishioner will be asked to complete a wellness screening before coming to worship.  All information will be documented and filed.  This form may be filled out at home and brought with you to church.  In the event you do not have a completed form, you may fill one out when you arrive.

Please click the link below to get a copy of the St. John's Health and Wellness Participant Screening. 

St. John's Health and Wellness Screening

Oct. 15, 2020

A pastoral refeclection from Bishop Gates

September came and went. October is well underway.  Autumn is a time when congregational life – like much of the world around us – is normally marked by renewed energy and fresh beginnings: familiar worship schedules resume; choirs end their summer hiatus; church schools regather; parish events and groups of all sorts reappear on the calendar.

This year, instead, September found us hitting what’s been termed “The Six-Month Wall.” We are anxious, fatigued, frustrated, plagued by feelings of helplessness. Of course we are. The coronavirus continues to take its toll, passing horrific statistical milestones and dominating our lives with limitations never imagined. Parents with school-aged children face unbearable pressures and no-win decisions. The devastatingly fractious and nonfunctional state of our national leadership continues. Anxiety about the stability of our electoral process is unprecedented. Vulnerable members of society feel ever more vulnerable.

Meanwhile, we are engaged with what has been termed the second pandemic in our midst – that of racism in America. The coronavirus has underscored realities of inequality in virtually every sector of our society. Our searing national reckoning on race – essential, and sinfully overdue – demands our hearts and urgent energy. As we deal with the coronavirus, it has been suggested that we do not have the individual or collective energy to engage the work of antiracism at this moment. Yet we may not postpone this urgent engagement. We have delayed and satisfied ourselves with good intentions for far too long. The work is at hand.

Six months into the confluence of these two pandemics, we find our “surge capacity” depleted. Describing the adaptive ways we humans cope with stress and anxiety, one psychologist says, “the pandemic has demonstrated both what we can do with surge capacity and the limits of surge capacity. When it’s depleted, it has to be renewed. But what happens when you struggle to renew it because the emergency phase has now become chronic?” (i)

In the church, as in the wider world, the coronavirus has challenged us to adapt, to find new ways to do important things, to protect ourselves and one another, to create processes and methodologies, to maintain relationships, to keep on keeping on. “It’s important to recognize that it’s normal in a situation of great uncertainty and chronic stress to get exhausted,” comments the psychologist, “to feel like you’re depleted or experience periods of burnout.”(ii)

This exhaustion is showing up in our physical health and in our mental health. “The more accustomed you are to solving problems, to getting things done, to having a routine,” says another mental health professional, “the harder it will be on you because none of that is possible right now. You get feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.” (iii)

In the face of these realities, here are three ways I am trying to find strength for each day.

1. Have compassionate expectations. We expect so much of one another. We expect so much of ourselves. We expect so much of our churches. It’s right and good that we do – that we have high standards and aspirations. But right now, let’s also be patient with one another. Let’s not expect or demand more than we can individually or collectively manage. Even in our most vital endeavors, while striving for our best selves and highest ideals, let’s calibrate our expectations with the compassion demanded by the times.

2. Maintain our most important relationships. Lean on one another, and be there to be leaned upon. A popular cliché suggests that “God never gives us more than we can bear.” This is simply not born out by our experience of life, is it? Life’s burdens often become more than any of us can bear on our own. It is only by relying upon one another – those we love, and those who love us; our communities of faith and friendship; and even the kindness of strangers – these are the ways that we endure. God never gives us more than we can bear together: with this addition, the aphorism becomes true.

3. Live as people of hope. We cannot, of course, summon up faith by sheer dint of will. The “On Demand” button on my Comcast remote does not have access to the reservoir of hope for which I yearn. Yet I am convinced that there are times when I can and must exercise an element of choice in the posture with which I approach life. I choose to hope. For, to paraphrase Saint Paul, if we are only people of hope in hopeful times, what credit is that to us? But we are people of Resurrection faith precisely when resurrection is not what seems to appear before us. For “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

In the coming weeks we will face into further anxiety, further important work, and further adaptive challenges. Bishop Gayle Harris and I will be offering thoughts on the election, on our Diocesan Convention, on the essential work of antiracism before us, and more. Meanwhile, we live in the holy hope so well expressed by a sometime priest of our diocese:

“Perhaps … this prolonged period of unfulfilled desire will widen our hearts, increasing our empathy for those who live in a perpetual state of longing for what is denied them – peace, justice, equality, safety – all those whose deepest needs remain unmet. And perhaps now, having been deprived of people and connection and community for so long, we will appreciate anew how much we depend upon one another for our own flourishing.” (iv)

May this holy hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit, carry us through and beyond the limits of our surge capacity.

Faithfully and fondly,


The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates

Proper 24A-2* 10/18/20                                        St. John’s Church live & online

Rev’d Jennifer Phillips                              Isa.45:1-7;1 Thess.1:1-10; Mtt.22:15-22

“I will give you the treasures of darkness and the riches of secret places, that you may know that it is I, the Lord.” So says God through the prophet Isaiah (the third prophet writing under that name in that book). Don’t you hunger to know just what that means? What are the treasures of darkness? Where are the riches of secret places? How is God giving these to us, or to anyone?

I remember visiting the Tutankhamen exhibit when it came to Washington DC when I was a teenager. I remember stepping through the doorway and along a dimly lit, black painted corridor and winding through a series of low-ceilinged barely lit chambers in which glittering statues and jewelry of gold and enamel sparkled under glass. It was all designed to give us a taste of the wonder of the original discovery of the royal tomb beneath the sands of Egypt. Indeed, it was mysterious and beautiful. I suspect the original moment was full of dust and heat and probably spiders. To Egyptologists or treasure-seekers opening the chambers and seeing the heaped baskets of grain and currency, the corpses of the personal slaves sealed in so they could continue in slavery in the afterlife; the slave buriers of the body entombed also so they would not divulge the secret of the tomb's location, and the artifacts; the boats and chariots left derelict for millennia; it must have been exciting. But it struck me that the sight must also have been a bit sad – all that wealth stacked up underground doing nothing for all those years, all the hopes for immortality vested in jars of preserved viscera and masks and rings and beads. Finding them still lying in their original darkness communicates nothing more clearly than that immortality, life beyond this life we know, has nothing to do with all that stuff. We leave that behind.

I had an appointment with my financial planner for a review of my retirement plans recently. Visiting her always feels like some combination of going to Confession and maybe visiting a proctologist. For a financial planner to be useful, one has to have no secrets about one’s financial life. You lay it all out there – what you spend on what, how much you do or don’t save, how much debt you carry, how grandiose your hopes for retirement may be. Like a good doctor, a financial planner doesn’t pull faces and say “eeuw!” or laugh satirically as you lay out your information. She is sober and professional with a tone of mild cheer mixed with calm reality.  There are always some aspects of my handling of my wealth that embarrass me when I have to lay them out in front of someone else. There is money I waste. There is more than I would like that I have spent just on myself. There are last year’s good intentions to improve savings that I haven’t fulfilled. Then there are the ways in which my investments, no matter how socially responsible I try to be, inevitably support sin in the world. Some part of my money makes bombs. Some part supports tyrants. Some part puts junk food on people’s tables.  My government bonds finance war as well as urban redevelopment. Some substantial part injures the environment. Even with so-called 'socially responsible investments' I need to recognize that my hands aren’t clean.

My conversations with the financial planner a couple of times a year bring me to take stock of the present, consider my future, and notice that there will be a future for the world after I am no longer in it, and a probability that some of my cash might go on without me. Since I don’t want to put it in the ground like Tutankhamen I need to make other plans to make it work for good in the world, both now and later.

The grain that the young Pharaoh stuck away in his tomb – that stuff is dead and useless. It will never germinate. To be preserved, seed must be not only stored in climate-controlled conditions, but also planted and grown up and re-harvested within every few years – a monumental effort to preserve the goodness of the earth for future generations. Our wealth is just like that. In vaults, it dwindles away. To have life, it must be planted in the world and grow productively – not just for the sake of multiplication, but because wealth has the power to build up the human community.

A spiritual director once asked me whether, if I died and someone looked back through my checkbook stubs for a lifetime, what sort of person would they find I had been? Does the way I use the money entrusted to me show forth the sort of person I desire to be? The sort of person God calls me to be? And so I ask that question of you in turn? What does your checkbook say about what matters most to you?

Some people are a little shocked when a preacher talks too explicitly about money in church. But there are more teachings about the right and improper uses of wealth than on almost any other single subject in the Bible. Money mattered – to the prophets, to the teachers, to the apostles, and to Jesus, who talked about it a lot. It matters, though not for itself. As anyone in the Sudan can tell you – one of those places that has seen such catastrophic devaluation of currency due to war and economic collapse that it takes a wheelbarrow of money to buy an armload of food – money in itself matters very little. Value of money comes and goes. Money matters for the lives it can improve: the clean water systems it can pay for, the meals, the shelter, the education, the health care, the community life, even the fun. We can’t begin to talk about the care of God’s creation, or the preservation of the environment, without talking about money. Even in church, money mends the roof and the plumbing, buys the paper, pays for our children’s educational materials, the cleaning of the carpet under our feet, the sound-system, the heat, the staff’s time… we know these things. There is nothing secular or unholy about them. They are the stuff of life and God calls us to tend to them wisely, with justice, generosity, and love – in the same way God gives the world to us.

So if the priest asks you whether you have remembered the church in your will, (well, have you?) it is no less godly a question than if the priest should ask you have you made legal provision for the care of your small children should both parents die, or whether you are saying your prayers. These acts of prudence leave marks of the people we have been in the world – what we care deeply about, where our hearts reside.

Jesus takes a coin in his hand and wittily flips it back to his questioners, asking them to think about just what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God. The ball is back in their court. There's not an easy answer. How would you decide? Does all the cash belong to Caesar because it has Caesar’s picture on it? Does this mean that tax-resistance against war is Unchristian? Or does everything ultimately belong to God, even Caesar himself and all his treasury? Is Jesus meaning to say “this coin doesn’t matter much; it’s just the stuff of this transient political world”? Or is he saying, “every time you hold a coin in your hand, you must think about to whom this wealth really belongs – where it should go, what it should do”. Because the coins do indeed come into our hands, our bank accounts, we can’t just throw up our hands and say, “I don’t know what Jesus meant by that!” “I can’t be sure what God prefers me to do.” There are lots of good options, and some bad ones, and the ball is in our court to discern how we shall use our abundance.

Treasure is nice to have. It’s a desirable thing to not have to worry about having enough to eat and be sheltered and educated and as healthy as possible. But when the chips are down, there’s something more that we long for, some deep sustenance, some trusty meaning, some anchor of belonging and identity and clarity of love that we yearn for. This, I think, is the treasure of darkness and the riches of secret places Isaiah God wants to give us. For we are God’s treasure. We ourselves are the infinitely precious ones bearing God’s own image, the coins of God’s storehouse stamped with God’s face. We ourselves are the seeds of God’s seedbank that are being planted in order to bring forth seeds for the world’s future. We belong to God. May all our choices make this abundantly clear to the world. 

Prayer for a Pandemic
By Cameron Bellm
May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.

 95 Deerfield Ave
 Westwood, MA 02090

WEEKLY SCHEDULE                          

Sunday Worship: 10:00 a.m. live streamed. Please email Jennifer for access:

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 2019-2020:

Rev. Dr. Jennifer M. Phillips

We are now accepting pledge payments online.
Please click the link below.

Please - keep your pledge payments current if you are able. The expenses of the church continue in this time of crisis as does our outreach and mission (with necessary modifications). We rely on our members contributions to keep doing Christ’s work at St. John’s! And if you are in a financial crisis - let the rector know. If you need to modify your pledge, let Alan Macdonald, our Treasurer, know. 
Thank you!

Tuesday,  October 20, 7:00 p.m.:
Bible Study, followed by Compline, on Zoom. Please contact Jennifer to receive the Zoom invitation via email:

Wednesday, 21, before 8:30 a.m.: (new time... a little later!)
St. John's will deliver 50 sandwiches & 50 pieces of fruit to Ecclesia Ministries, to feed homeless neighbors in Boston. Please let Emily know if you can help out. Thank you! emilysugg30@gmail.com

Sunday, October 25, 10:00 a.m.:
Outdoor morning prayer, on the back lawn. (weather permitting) Please bring your own lawn chair, wear a mask, and be ready to follow our safety guidelines.
11:30 a.m.: 
Zoom coffee hour
Please email Jennifer for the Zoom invitation, if you haven't already. We miss seeing you all!

Looking Ahead:

Diocesan Election-Eve Prayer Vigil
The Cathedral Church of St. Paul is coordinating an online prayer vigil on Monday, November 2nd, at 7 pm, in collaboration with any and all other congregations in the diocese who would like to join together to pray for our nation, for safe and fair elections, and for all candidates and voters. 
Contact Dean Amy if your congregation would like to help plan and lead the vigil. Zoom link and bulletin will be on the Cathedral website and diocesan events calendar.
Monday, November 2, 7 pm Via ZOOM

We will also offer a simple night prayer gathering on ZOOM at 7 pm on Nov. 3, Nov. 4, Nov. 5, and Nov. 6.

Come join in:

Oasis Ministries –we provide a monthly hot dinner to about 60 homeless neighbors at Old West Church in Boston on 2nd Mondays. 

Ecclesia outreach – This fall we are continuing to provide sandwiches and fresh fruit approximately every two weeks, with the help of Epiphany, Walpole. 

Pantry support – for the Westwood Food Pantry:  Good news! The pantry is now accepting food donations Monday - Friday, 9:00 - Noon. Please make any deliveries to the Council on Aging, 60 Nahatan St., Westwood. OR you can drop off food in the designated box in front of the Westwood Library, any time of day. Many thanks!

Prayer Shawls – knitting 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. This will resume when it's safe to do so.
Speak to Rev. Jennifer if you’d like to put your discipleship to work in one or more of these parish ministries!

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

For Health Care Workers


Sanctify, O Author of all healing, those whom you have called to the study and practice of the arts of healing and to the prevention of disease and suffering (especially N.). Strengthen them by your life-giving Spirit, that by their ministries the health of the community may be promoted and your creation glorified; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.


In Confinement


My Creator, you rolled out the heavens,

you spread the sky like a tent:

bless to me the small confinement of this room,

the long days, disturbances of night,

immobility of body, unease of soul,

that this place of exile

may become my holy ground

and Jesus my deliverer. Amen.


In times of Widespread Illness


Holy God, our times are in your hand;

calm our minds, anxious in this time of illness;

lend us your wisdom to act with prudence,

be mindful of the needs and fears of others,

and be people of resolve, kindness, and courage,

following the path of your beloved Son Jesus,

in the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Subpages (1): Outreach during Covid19