March 7, 10:00 a.m. 

Morning Prayer service at church livestreaming on the church's FaceBook page

11:30 a.m.: Zoom coffee hour
Please email Jennifer for the Zoom invitation, if you can in us!

Hi!! from St. John's

Lent 2B 2-28-21                                                                 St. John's Church online

Rev'd Jennifer Phillips                                                      Gen.17:1-7, 15-16; Rom. 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38

Someone said to a group of clergy online the other day that in the time of COVID-19, "every day is blursday!" I wonder whether you might feel that way, too, at least some weeks? Back on Groundhog day, when in Massachusetts the goshdarn rodent never sees his shadow, people were going on about the movie "Groundhog Day" and how they were feeling this year that they were stuck in an endless loop of masked, distanced, over-screened, repetitive days, but that they hadn't got yet to the point of being able to use the time creatively, no matter how many fun activities to do at home with macaroni and folded paper that the New York Times suggests.

And now we are in Lent, a time for customarily stepping away from a few creature comforts, of being a more quiet and reflective, as we prepare for the arrival of Holy Week and Easter, of paring down to essentials. Yet there are our neighbors in Texas and other states, suffering mightily for lack, not just of creature comforts, but of the stuff of survival. No optional Lenten observance for them, to whom our hearts rightly go out and for whom our prayers ascend! 

At a clergy self-care webinar last week, the psychotherapist leader reassured us all: if you are experiencing brain fog, an urge to procrastinate beyond your usual, a lack of motivation, sleep disruption, constant low-grade, irritability, anxiety, sadness, upset digestion, either eating constantly or forgetting to have meals, know that you are experiencing what are normal, or at least the widely-shared symptoms of the pandemic. You are not going crazy. She reminded us that what the world is going through now is trauma, and the most common response from human beings to trauma is not collapse but resilience! We are adaptable creatures, even when we don't enjoy it much. when we learn about our limits and vulnerabilities we learn also about our resources and strength.

As I get to see some of you - some in short doorway conversations, when maybe you apologize for still being in your jammies at noon, or having cave-person hair (like me), or with some children shouting in the background, or hastily turning down the TV news to which -you explain - you have become addicted, what I hear from you and see in you is your resilience; the way you are going through hard times with determination, with grit, with an effort at humor, with appreciation for others, and some sense of hope for the future. 

Everyone has had to change their routines and give up some things they prize this past year. Even introverts are saying: 'enough already with the solitude and quiet!' 

Extroverts are questioning their sanity. A majority of you are also counting your blessings - realizing how privileged we are to be warm, sheltered and well-fed, and having the promise of vaccine, and mostly good wifi, when so many in the world and our own nation do not. Some colleagues in less fortunate neighborhoods have buried a dozen parishioners in the past eleven months; we have not seen that level of communal loss in our midst, yet we also are touched by grief individually and together. Just as vaccine becomes available, we hear that it will not much change the way we will need to conduct ourselves - with new variants of the virus arising, even more infectious, and not yet knowing how well the vaccinated will be protected or may still carry asymptomatic infection to others. This will not be over quickly, though we long for that.

Today we hear Jesus in Mark's Gospel prescient about the fate ahead of him, knowing that his suffering is coming, and death is to follow, sooner or later, and that in this, while it is part of his calling as (unique) Son of Man, it is also a way in which in these experiences he is just (as that title son of Man also conveys,) "every mother's son", "a descendent of Adam, an earthling", one of us all. His friend Peter objects, wanting to say, "No, you are different, special! Surely you will be spared." And Jesus scolds and contradicts him, while also saying with another layer of meaning harking back to his own temptation by Satan in the wilderness after his baptism,  "Don't tempt me!" 

It's helpful somehow to realize that Jesus was not happy about facing into the coming suffering, humiliation, and execution. He knew about the ignominious end of his cousin John the Baptizer. He would have preferred to step aside into more creature comfort. But he could not become the person he was called to be and do the necessary work for the world and for God by turning away. Did he know what the full redemptive dimension of his dreadful death would be? Somehow I doubt that. I think he went forward in trust, not because he knew what would become of him, but because he knew who God is and what it meant to walk in love and welcome in the reign of heaven. He trusted that the cost would be worth it all. 

So perhaps consider this Lent that you, child of God, child of earth, are finding yourself in a rather peculiar time of spiritual retreat. My colleague, Sam Candler, the Dean of the Cathedral in Atlanta, poses a useful question for this moment 

"What do we learn about ourselves when we are in retreat, away from our usual comforts? What do we learn about our own fears? What do we learn about our own loves? When we acknowledge both those fears and those loves, we grow a little bit. If we can give voice to those fears, and those loves, we might be a little closer to the God whose love defeats fear....

Lent, then, [he says] can be a season for en-visioning, or re-visioning, what Easter can be. Most simply put, Easter means new life. What can new life be? What can our new lives be? How will we live, how can we live differently, in newness of spirit, when this long Lent is over....

   Someone once said that the best way to predict the future is to be the future, to live in such a way that you are being the very future you want. The same is true about Easter, and Resurrection, and New Life: the best way to experience Easter is to act as if Easter is already here. That’s what Lent can be about; it can be about living into Easter, acting in ways that bring new life to ourselves and to the world, whatever our present hindrances may be."

Ask yourself then, what might a redemptive dimension of this COVID-burdened Lent be for you? What if you are not stuck in a groundhog loop but drawn into a new learning? When life returns to some semblance of normal, down the road, what of this time will you be most eager to leave behind, and what might you wish to keep? Amid all the losses, what have you gained? Have you, perhaps, discovered that your love, our love, God's love, is deeper and wider than those dear signs of love we are so missing - hugging, seeing face to face, eating and drinking at the same table, and sharing the Sacrament together - and what if we are learning this resurrecting Lent-and-Easter love in a painful but powerful new way? 

We are now accepting pledge payments online.

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!
Please click the link below.

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

 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

Saturday, February 6: 

Eight of our youth participated in the Winter Walk to raise money for organizations that serve the unhoused population of Boston. Thank you to all who sponsored us! We raised over $1,000, and had a great time! 

Saturday, March 6, 9:30 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.:
"Lent and the Longing for God": This morning retreat, to be conducted online and led by the Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, will invite participants to explore their own desires, as well as the desires of the One “to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid.” The retreat time will include presentations and guided meditation, with options for solitary reflection or for small group conversation. This retreat is co-sponsored by the dioceses of Massachusetts and Western Massachusetts, and open to the people of both. Find more details and registration here

Sunday, March 7, 10:00 a.m.:
Morning Prayer service at church on via live-streaming on the church's FaceBook page.

11:oo a.m.: Middle School Youth Zoom with Juanita Kingsley and Kathy Kelleher.

5:00 p.m.: Zoom for kids and their families to learn about UrbanPromise Honduras! Emily will send out an invitation this weekend to all who are interested. Please join us for a chance to learn more about life in Copan, Honduras!

Monday, March 8, 4:00 p.m.: High School Youth Zoom

Tuesday evenings of Lent at 7-8:30 pm starting February 23 - March 30:

Lent Study begins next week led by Lynne Kozlowski. Please contact me of you would like a zoom invitation for the series that will culminate on the Tuesday of Holy Week: A River Through the Desert--A Lenten Pilgrimage  

Explore the geography of the Holy Land, following Jesus from Galilee to Golgotha.”  The study was developed by The Very Rev’d Canon Richard Sewell, the Dean of St. George’s College in Jerusalem.  Each session includes a five-minute film, thought provoking material on the week’s theme (The Desert, The Water Well, The Mountain, The Sea, The Road, The Garden) and questions for discussion each Tuesday. Email address to request emailed materials resources@sgcjerusalem.org  

$15 donation requested to 


Thursday, March 11th (and 25th), by 8:30 a.m.:

Delivery of 50 sandwiches to Ecclesia Ministries @ Emmanuel Church in Boston. Thank you to all who have been participating, along with Epiphany, Walpole! 

Sunday, March 14, 10:00 a.m.:
Morning Prayer service at church on via live-streaming or on the church's FaceBook page. 

The Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston invites everyone to take part in its annual Lenten Preaching Series, via Zoom, on Thursdays at noon throughout Lent. This year’s series lifts up voices of leaders who are fairly new to the greater Boston area or who have come to see the area anew. The sermons will be offered within the context of a brief service of noonday prayer. Conversation with the preacher and other attendees follows, with an end time of 1:15 p.m. Register here to receive a Zoom link. 
The remaining schedule of preachers for the series is:

• March 11James Rutenbeck, Filmmaker, Lost Nation Pictures
• March 18: The Rev. Kate Bast, Rector, Trinity Parish, Melrose
• March 25Dr. Sujin Pak, Dean, Boston University School of Theology

Oasis Ministries –we provide a monthly hot dinner to about 60 homeless neighbors at Old West Church in Boston on 2nd Mondays. Right now Jen Whitmore is cooking our meal for us, which is an extraordinary gift. We continue to support Oasis financially. 

Here is Jen W.'s latest news:

I just wanted to reach out to let you know we are still doing really well! We continue to serve Mondays and Saturdays! Unfortunately, we are still outside, but we serve exactly like we did inside! We have the buffet set up outside and serve each person individually. We are still doing home cooked meals (but To Go style...) 

We still start with hearty hot soup/ hot coffee and cocoa. We try to have warm bread or crackers for the soup in case people need to keep moving. But we always follow it up with a hearty hot dinner. We are still doing chicken Enchiladas that ppl seem to love with your tomato rice, corn and salad! Everyone would prefer your fried chicken, but the enchiladas are creamy and satisfying! :)

I just want you to know how much we love, respect and appreciate you all!

Ecclesia outreach – This winter we are continuing to provide sandwiches and fresh fruit approximately every two weeks, with the help of Epiphany, Walpole. Thanks to all who have been involved! Our next delivery dates are Thursdays, March 11 and 25.

Above is a photo of Rev. Mary leading outdoor worship at common cathedral.

Pantry support – for the Westwood Food Pantry:  The pantry is 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!   Please click on the link at the bottom of this page or at the top of the left column to see our Covid19 Outreach page. 

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.

Subpages (1): Outreach during Covid19