June 17, 10:00 a.m.

Trinity B* May 27, 2018                                                                     St. John’s Church

Rev’d Jennifer Phillips                                                  Ex3:1-6;Rom8:12-17;Jn3:1-16

Today is the Feast Day of the Holy Trinity - God in three persons and one being, that our Creeds try to make clear, but don’t entirely manage. Many people think the Trinity is best left to theologians and people with a lot of letters after their names. But not all Christians! The Celtic Church of  early Britain in particular had a special fondness for speaking and thinking of God as Trinity. Their eyes didn’t glaze over at the word. No, they thought of the Trinity as a very near and familiar and dear reality. God the First Person who spoke the Word that called creation into being, that God they spoke of as preserving their little fishing boat in safety among the waves of the storm. God the Son, the Second person, the Word, the one who was perfect human and perfect God at the same time, they believed knelt beside them as they kindled the kitchen fire, shepherded their flocks and themselves on the hillside and kept the wolf away, and spoke a good word for them when they had fallen into sin and wickedness and wanted to get close again to God’s holiness and forgiveness. And God the Spirit breathed, they believed, in the wind that stirred the forest, sparked fire in the flint, and was partner in all generative work. Perhaps then, those ancestors might give us courage to think about the Blessed Trinity and not be intimidated, not be befuddled, or bored. So consider:

Were we to come before God the Creator and ruler of the whole cosmos in our littleness without the humanity of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, we should faint from fear and feel God to be an Other wholly beyond our power to speak and be heard, to touch and know.

Were we to come before God as the Incarnate One, without his pointing us always to the God he called Abba, without the encouragement of the Holy Spirit within us that was also in Jesus, we might make the mistake of thinking God no more than ourself perfected, or God a captive of history, one made in our image and domesticated to our liking. Were we to come before God the Holy Spirit without the particularity of  the historical Jesus Christ and without knowing God as the One who wills and gives our being and stands beyond our time and space, we might believe that every spirit moving us was holy and that among us human beings could be found all we need to live with no concern beyond ourselves. We might think we could be spiritual without God and God's  Church.

But God is Abba and Creator and so we know God’s majesty and imagination and desire for good shown forth in everything that is. God is Jesus and Christ and so we know God as very near us, acquainted with our griefs and pains and calling us into a righteousness it is in our power to follow. God is Spirit and so we know God as within us each and all, drawing us always toward the Heart that loves us, giving us fire and energy to love in turn.  These three who are one in love, the saints have understood as in constant communion and exchange, sharing a kind of pillow-talk of constant communication, into which we small human ones are drawn by sheer hospitality and affection, God-given. So, God the Blessed Trinity teaches us how to pray.

To this threefold one God, we listen and speak in our reason and imagination; we cry and rejoice, eat and drink in our own fleshy humanness; we dance and sing in the energy and communion of God’s and our one Spirit.

This worship we offer together weekly is the celebration and reminder of God’s threefold presence with us here, and in the whole of the world we occupy. It is the particular way we honor the One who has given us everything and who allows us the freedom to return and give thanks -- or not.

So what we do here, the way we pray, is of great importance. Each one worshipping should ask constantly, “Is the way we are doing what we are doing, the way I am doing what I am doing, giving honor to God the blessed Trinity? Is it loving and serving my neighbor - the one whose pains and joys I know, the stranger whose needs I can only imagine?”

Does the way we pray point to God’s awesome holiness, God’s creative love, God’s transcendent power? Is there mystery here? Is there humility? Are we willing to wait and be silent enough to allow God’s presence to be felt, God’s word to be heard?

Does the way we pray point to God’s nearness, also? Does it communicate a God who wishes to touch and teach us, a God of passion and compassion who is no stranger? A God who has made our very bodies holy, who welcomes us at every age, who touches us with healing? A God who calls us to do justice in all our actions, who knows us within our history? A God who befriends us and whom we call by name: Jesus, the anointed? 

Does the way we pray point to the renewing energy of God within us, God’s power to transform, to leap over boundaries to join us to each other, to make us hungry to be reconciled and in communion and community whenever we drift away? I have a great passion for prayer, especially this prayer of the church together that we call “liturgy”, from Greek, “the work of the people” or even “public work”. My particular calling as priest is to bring focus and resource to our common prayer, to help shape and guide it in fidelity to our traditions and to the wider Church in which we share membership, to reconcile differences, and to preside at this Table fellowship of Christ among you. But you are the “celebrants” of the worship; it is the business of each of you and of all together.

In our common prayer, your lives in the world need to find expression- your lives as workers, as members of families and friendships, as builders of neighborhoods and towns, as people who play and think and meet God in prayer in many ways. In  it, the griefs and troubles of members should find solidarity. When one of us seeks a worship service to grieve or bury a loved one, all of us should hurry to be present in love and solidarity, to express with our bodies and voices the nearness of Christ and our hope and confidence of heaven. In our common prayer, the shaping of relationships finds its schooling and anchor. When two of us exchange vows to make a new family, all of us should hurry to be present to rejoice, to pledge our strength and support against the dividing and damaging powers of  evil. When a new person -infant or grown - seeks to be joined in the body of Christ and committed to a life of discipleship and service, all of us should hurry to offer our thanks and amen and add our teaching and helping skills to the new Christian at baptism.

There is no such thing in the Church as a private wedding, or funeral or baptism, because the church’s prayer is common, that is, shared. The whole Body of Christ participates in the prayer of each local part, in the way we here share in one loaf of bread, one cup of wine, one Body of Christ in Holy Communion. The whole Trinity moves and works in it. It is my job as your priest to say this to you again and again, especially when you might feel most separate, isolated, outcast, and alone: We are one body. We share one prayer. That one body, one prayer is utterly loved, accepted, and made holy by and to God.

A child once asked me, “why does it matter if I skip church?” “If you skip brushing your teeth enough, they get rotten and fall out. If you skip mowing the lawn it turns into a thicket. If you skip eating, you get weak and sick. If you skip being with friends you get weird, selfish and lonely. And if you skip church, you forget how much God loves you, how many blessings you enjoy, and how  your life is both shared and holy.” Away from our common prayer, the knowledge of God as Trinity begins to slip away. We begin to think our private thoughts shape God rather than God us. The shared prayers of the sisters and brothers in Christ are the hands of the Potter on us molding and growing our clay.

This common prayer is our dance of thanksgiving to God the Blessed Trinity. It is our shared song with angels and archangels and all the glad company of heaven.  By sharing in it, over time, it shapes us into a holy people; it renews in us the image of Christ; it joins us to one another on a level beneath our obvious similarities and differences. It is a tender thing, this companionship we share in God the Holy and Undivided Trinity. The Celtic ancestors of the Hebrides prayed at bedtime:

"I am lying down tonight as beseems

In the fellowship of Christ the Son of the Virgin of ringlets,

In the fellowship of the gracious Father of glory,

in the fellowship of the Spirit of powerful aid,

I am lying down tonight with God, and God tonight will lie down with me....

I will lie down tonight with the Three of my love,

and the Three of my love will lie down with me."

It was St. Augustine - the other one, Bishop of Hippo in North Africa in the 4th century - who held up the consecrated bread and wine to his congregation and said to them, “Behold what you are. Become what you see.” And so in this place, among these dear ones, week by week, I will lift up the bread and wine in your name and say to you in this gesture: See what you are - be holy, be this.

WEEKLY SCHEDULE                          

Office Hours:  
Tuesday 2:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday 2:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Friday 2:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

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 2017:

Rev. Dr. Jennifer M. Phillips
Jennifer offers a blessing to our High School graduates, Matt and Casey, on June 3

Tuesday, June 12,
Bible Study ~ 7:00pm

Wednesday, June 13,
Morning Eucharist ~ 10:15

Sunday, June 17, 10:00 a.m.
Worship ~Sunday ~

Looking Ahead 
Sunday, July 1: 9:00 a.m. services begin, continue through Labor Day weekend

Saturday, June 16, Noon - 2:45 p.m.:
Annual picnic at North Beach, Hale,  with fishing and boating, for our friends from Ecclesia Ministries. Please email Emily at emilysugg30@gmail.com if you can join us!

Episcopal Young Adult Festival 2019:
Young adults 18-30 have an opportunity to experience a bit of Episcopal General Convention 2019 July 5-13 in Austin, TX with others from around the world and the country - registration deadline May 11, 10 spots open. The cost for the event ranges between $300 and $675 depending on the housing choices. Registration deadline for those traveling to Austin is May 1 and includes five nights of housing, a Sunday morning brunch, General Convention registration, and all Young Adult Festival programming. For more information, contact Kelly at skelly@episcopalchurch.org.

Mark your calendars for our B-SAFE days: July 18, 19, and 20 when we will be serving lunches and offering a Field Trip for 60 or so elementary school children at our partner parish, C.H.S., Mattapan. Speak to Leslie or Emily if you'd like to join us in this joyful outreach. Below: kids having fun posing for pictures after lunch.

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!

Six St. John's volunteers, along with college students from nearby Suffolk & other regular participants, at the end of the Oasis dinner.