Sunday, May 26,  10:00 a.m.

Easter 5C 5-19-19                                                  St. John's Church

Rev'd Dr. Jennifer Phillips               Acts 11;1-18; Rev. 21:1-6; Jn 13:31-35

How many of you, when you were little, drew on the walls in your house? Or left your crayon art in some other totally inappropriate place? Some of us undoubtedly brought down the wrath of parents on our heads.

So I was enchanted by a FaceBook photo posted by a stranger-to-me, Eric Massicotte, showing two images - the first of a young child's stick drawing of a house, slightly lopsided and very green and not quite finished on the painted wall of a living room. The second showing the father's response: he took an empty picture frame and hung it over the drawing so it appeared to be - in fact, was -a framed piece of art, with a little placard at the bottom that read,

"R.C. Massicotte (b.2011)

Interrupted House, 2017

Marker on latex paint

Gifted to his parents by surprise, Nov. 13th"

This is an illustration of remarkably patient and good-humored parenting for sure. But it struck me also as a rather wonderful theological illustration.

We heard today from John's Gospel, written about 100-120 CE - so about 70 to 90 years after Jesus' earthly ministry, an odd-sounding juxtaposition. Judas who has just left the Last Supper is on his way to the authorities to sell out his teacher for a purse of silver. Jesus, in John's Gospel, is remembered as knowing everything in a rather god-like way - so in this Gospel Jesus knows exactly what Judas is up to before he knows it himself. At that moment, as the door closes behind Judas, we hear Jesus say, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him." Now?? What a strange moment for this pronouncement.

Bear in mind that in John's community, Jesus is all about glory. When the first man who is to become a follower spots Jesus, he annouynces: behold the lamb of God! - even on the cross and bleeding, in John's story, Jesus is seen and herd as regal - reconstituting family for his friend the young disciple John and his mother Mary. The kingship (or emperorship of Jesus) and the divinity of Jesus is obvious to almost everyone in this Gospel story from start to finish. So of all the moments to talk about glorifying God, why this ugly little moment of impending betrayal?

Think back to the way John's Gospel portrays Peter, too. Peter huddles fearfully in the courtyard as Jesus is beaten and cross examined by the Roman police. He says three times to bystanders who suspect him of being a Galilean and follower of Jesus: "No not me! I don't even know the guy!" And then the cock crows, Peter is devastated at what he has done. But soon the resurrected Jesus meets him with his fishing friends on the beach and three times gets Peter to confess his love for Jesus and three times instructs him to "Feed my sheep!" A powerful rehabilitation for his betrayal!

John's Gospel -with those extra years of reflection after Jesus' lifetime, and with lots of theological debate going on in that lively community - with traces we can see in the complex way they tell the Jesus story that is so different from the other three earlier Gospels -- sees a bigger picture. John's Gospel sees a cosmic frame for the picture of Jesus. Who was and is he? John says:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people... And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth."

God is engaged in a cosmic project no less than redeeming and saving the entire universe, the whole creation, everyone in it, through the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. The whole arc of history has been repurposed, set right where it was going awry. The resolution of the conflict of light with darkness - as this Gospel pictures it - of God and the powers of Satan: sin, evil, and death, is assured. Good is and will be victorious. Eternal life will conquer death. There is nothing that petty, violent, and ultimately pathetic betrayers can do to turn God's purpose aside or block it. Not for the universe. Not for any of us.

Now there seem to have been nay-sayers in John's Gospel community. We hear the echoes of debate within the text. Some said, 'only believers in Jesus will be saved', evidently thinking - 'that salvation can't include the children of darkness, a.k.a. our enemies!' Lots of Christians today wrestle with the same reluctance to consider that God might be saving the whole cosmos, and all huymanity. Surely not the really bad people?!  

As Barbara Cawthorne Crafton puts it in her book "The Alsolife," "many a Christian would sooner give up his hope of heaven than surrender his vision of hell fire and damnation for those of whom he disapproves." "We seek to baptize our own vindictiveness. We hope and believe that God dislikes the same things we dislike."

But there in John's Gospel are the dissenting universalist voices with the really big vision of God's purpose, of Christ's work, and of the utter mystery of God's way of getting from here to there. It's a breathtaking sense of hope that God keeps taking the corruption and hatefulness and brokenness of the human world and bending it toward glory, toward redemption and transformation - toward resurrection. Glorious Good News! (Even if it does challenge our human sense of fairness and self-privilege). Salvation and glory with room for Peter,  even for Judas and us other betrayers. Which voices from  the community of John do we think speak best for Jesus as we come to know him in all the New Testament? The work of Jesus reframes our sin, our bad behavior, our willfulness, drawing it up into the transforming purpose of God.

The Eastern Orthodox Christian communities (and John's community was among their ancestors in Greece) managed to keep more room in their faith tradition than we Western Christians have managed to do...but those Eastern folk sent missionaries to the Celtic Isles of Britain in early centuries and some of their worldview, their God-view, went with them there.  In Ireland, Christians they evangelized told this story - a parable perhaps - that was retold and set down in the early Middle Ages, if not before:

The Best Nail in the Ark

Noah was in a great hurry as he finished the ark and the rain began, and did not realize that he had left out the final nail from the hull of the ship. Hastening to load in all the animals and his family, he set sail. But through the unplugged nail-hole in the bottom of the ark, water began to seep in and rise toward the decks where the animals were sleeping. It is said that Satan saw Noah setting out in the ark and realized that the whole world was about to be inundated, and so the devil turned himself into a serpent and swam and swam after the ark. When he got to it's side, he saw the small hole where the nail had been left out, and thought, "Aha, I shall get into the ark and be warm and dry and create my sin and mischief there among them all. So he wriggled into the hole and got halfway and there was firmly stuck for the length of the voyage, so that not a drop more water could enter the boat. And that is how the devil became the best nail in the ark.


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

Sunday, May 26, 10:00 a.m.:                                                                            Holy Eucharist

Tuesday, May 28, 7:00 p.m.:
Bible study followed by Celtic style compline @ 8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, May 29, 10:15 a.m.: 
Holy Eucharist

Saturday, June 1, 10:30 a.m.:
Confirmation for our Deanery @ Church of the Holy Spirit, 525 River St., Mattapan

Sunday, June 2, 10:00 a.m.:
Come celebrate with our high school seniors! Two of our youth, Philip and Merritt, will speak We'll have a festive coffee hour and special prayers for our graduates and also our newly confirmed youth!          

Looking Ahead:
Monday, June 10: 3:45 - 7:00 pm.:
St. John's serves dinner at the Oasis program, at Old West Church in Boston. In the summer months we especially need helpers: it's always the 2nd Monday of the month. 

Saturday, June 22, Noon - 2:45 p.m: Picnic at North Beach, Hale Reservation for guests from Ecclesia Ministries! Helpers needed to grill, to help with fishing, and to take our guests on a canoe ride! This is always a very special event for our two churches.

July 31- August 1, 2, and 5: our new B-SAFE summer program dates!
We will serve lunch to roughly 85 kids, counselors, and teachers on the 31st, 1st and 5th, and offer a field trip to the Capron Park Zoo on Friday the 2nd.

This is loads of fun, and a wonderful enrichment program for children who live in the neighborhood of our partner parish, Church of the Holy Spirit, Mattapan. Sign up in the narthex to help out --- there are many different ways to participate! 

Calling all Artists!
Painters, Photographers, Potters, Quilters, Poets, Fiction Writers, Musicians and More--
We need your talents for the St John's Harvest Moon Arts Night next September. Plans are in the very early stage.  We envision an art exhibit in the Narthex, a poetry reading with open mic signup, maybe dance, instrumental music, song, finger food and wine and sparkling cider, and a silent auction of donated art, from paintings to poetry books. We also need volunteers to  design  a flyer and poster,  handle publicity on social media and in local news outlets, help with planning, managing and organizing the art, to do setting up and breaking down of the exhibit, to organize the silent auction, to help with the food and drink, and to do cleanup.
If you are an artist, let me know about your talent. If you are a master organizer, or helper, we need you, too. Many hands will make light work!

Lynne Viti
cell 781 248 5020

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. This year's picnic will be on Saturday, June 22.

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. We are beginning plans for a service trip with our partner parish, CHS Mattapan, for June 2020!

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. St. John's week this year is July 29 - August 2.

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!