January — April 2018 Epistle
From the Rector
As we travel in faith away from the joy and mystery of Christmas, through the light and revelation of Epiphany, toward the penitence and commitment of Lent, I am looking every day for all the ways that God shows up. Some of those ways are unexpected or surprising, and some are the holy ways that our shared faith has taught me to trust. I am often disappointed in people, but God never fails to encourage and strengthen me for each new day.
For the past four years, Tom and I have gone to Boston on the Monday of the Martin Luther King weekend to hear our Goddaughter, Stella (who sang at St. John’s this past fall), sing in an MLK themed concert in the city. These concerts have been consistently excellent, but this week’s concert was the most moving and amazing one yet. It was in Boston Symphony Hall and every seat was occupied. Twenty seven hundred people gathered to support the kids and to listen and remember.
The mission of the Boston Children’s Chorus is to “harness the power and joy of music to unite our city’s diverse communities and inspire social change. Our singers transcend social barriers in a celebration of shared humanity and love of music.” More than 500 young people sang on Monday night. Because this year is the 15th year of the BCC, the participants ranged in age from beginning choristers aged seven, to seniors in high school, as well as alumni from the past fifteen years of the BCC. The BCC looks like a United Nations of children. And their love of singing and raising their voices to inspire is palpable. Their energy and exuberance is electric. The singers are accompanied by piano, percussion, bass, electric and acoustic guitar, and they also sing acapella.
I was overwhelmed by emotion as soon as I walked into the building, remembering all the times I went to hear the Boston Symphony Orchestra with my Father, who always kept season tickets. I remembered watching Dad conduct the Boston Pops Orchestra under John Williams’ leadership in 2004 on the occasion of his 50th reunion from MIT. His wonder and delight that night was unforgettable. As I remembered with tears welling up, I knew God was with me and that my Dad is with God.
Then the concert began with a special arrangement of Precious Lord, Take My Hand. Kids and young people moved on and off the stage silently and effortlessly as the program progressed to a song about MLK to a rousing rendition of Wade in the Water, to the little children singing You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught from Rogers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, to a rousing arrangement of This Land is Your Land, to the spiritual My God Is A Rock which was unbelievably rendered with the words rock, storm and shelter echoing around the hall. The last song of the evening was We Shall Overcome with all the choristers on the stage and standing in the aisles. To describe this concert as moving is a gross understatement. I was in tears for most of the evening.
As I reflect on why I was so tearful, I find a mix of emotions. But mostly it comes down to this: in a time of great strife and struggle, fear and meanness among and between God’s people, the kids took a very high path and rose above it all in ways that were passionate and inspiring, and hugely poignant. If so many children and young people of various manner and means, heritages and races, creeds and beliefs can work together to such incredible effect, God is with us, and there is hope for us all and for this weary world.
On Monday night I was reminded of the transformational power of music and the infinite potential of choosing to be in harmony instead of sowing discord. God showed up. On Monday night that music conveyed a vision of the way God would have us live together; in peace, listening attentively, with mutual respect, loving all our neighbors, seeking justice and the common good, growing God’s kingdom. God was present and love was manifest. On Monday night a rainbow of God’s people remembered together the difference that one unarmed, determined, unafraid, courageous, and faithful man with a Bible in his hand and Jesus in his heart, made in another, earlier time of great strife and struggle, fear and meanness. God is with us. Always. And everywhere. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. Thanks be to God!
Blessings to you and yours in this New Year, Virginia
Selected Parish Pearls January 21 – April 12, 2018
Fracking waste ban information session: Sunday, January 21st after the 10am service. What’s all this about fracking waste possibly coming to Connecticut? The bad news is that all the fracking that’s happening out west is producing this really yucky toxic radioactive liquid waste, and some companies have been looking to deposit this waste in Connecticut. The good news is that concerned citizens across CT are working to move local ordinances forward, protecting their corner of Creation, property values and public health. That is, 20 CT towns and cities now have local laws banning toxic, radioactive fracking waste and other oil and gas drilling and extraction wastes. None of ‘our’ towns have passed these ordinances, though, so we are thinking about moving forward with this project. We need parishioners from all of our towns to participate, though! The meeting will be to talk about what’s involved for each town. And it would be great if folks from Vernon, Tolland, Ellington, East Hartford, Manchester, and South Windsor would be there!
January 27th is our Alleluia, We Are ONE Party to celebrate the merge of St. John’s. Please sign up in the Narthex or by writing to email@example.com and indicate what you can bring (chili, bread, salad or vegetable dish, or dessert). We have so much for which to give thanks together!
On February 4th, St. John’s will be having its fourth annual SOUPer BOWL SUNDAY OF CARING. This is a National Movement. The Youth are taking up a collection of monetary donations and non-perishable food items after both services for the Cornerstone in Rockville and East Hartford Interfaith Ministers (EHIM) to provide extra funds for the SOUP Kitchen for those who are hungry in the midst of a national day of vast extravagance. Please make checks out to St. John’s Episcopal Church, Vernon and our Treasurer will distribute one check for each organization.
On March 11th the ECW will be hosting a Lenten Lunch and Labyrinth Walk immediately following the second worship service. All are invited for a light lunch and a contemplative walk in lieu of coffee hour.
The East of the River Parishes and the Northeastern CT Missional Region are collaborating on a Lenten Day of Engagement on Saturday, March 17th from 9 am to 2 pm at St. Peter’s in South Windsor. A light breakfast will be served, and a hearty lunch will be offered. There is NO charge to participants for the retreat day. The Rev. Maren Tirabassi, a noted author and retreat leader from New Hampshire, will lead an exploration of our personal faith and spirituality autobiographies. Please sign up with Virginia for what promises to be a rewarding spiritual day.
Dates To Remember
Jan. 21 Rite I at 8 am and Rite II at 10 am with Baptism, Music, Sunday School, and Nursery Care, followed by Coffee Hour and Rite 13 Class and Environmental Meeting regarding regulating Fracking Waste in local towns
Jan. 22 7 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Undercroft
Jan. 23 5:30 Book Club Potluck and Discussion at the Rectory. Books to be discussed are, Wicked Autumn, by G.N. Malliet and, Little Fires Everywhere, by C. Ng
Jan. 24 10:30 am Pastoral CareGivers at Riverside Nursing Home
Jan. 24 7 pm Holy Eucharist and Healing Prayers in the Children’s Chapel, followed by Bible Study
Jan. 25 7:30 pm Senior Choir Rehearsal
Jan. 27 5:30 pm Alleluia, We are ONE St. John’s Chili and Winter Warmer Party in the Lower Parish Hall
Jan. 28 Rite I at 8 am and Rite II at 10 am with Music, Sunday School, and Nursery Care, followed by Coffee Hour/Pizza Luncheon hosted by Thrivent Financial and Rite 13 Class
Jan. 29 7 pm Vestry Meeting in the Undercroft
Jan. 29 7 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Upper Parish Hall
Jan. 30 7 pm in the Undercroft, Exploratory Meeting regarding re-forming the Women’s Spirituality Group
Jan. 31 7pm Holy Eucharist and Healing Prayers in the Children’s Chapel, followed by Bible Study
Feb. 1 7:30 pm Senior Choir Rehearsal
Feb. 2&3 Hosting the Trinity Institute Live Stream in the Lower Parish Hall
Feb. 4 Rite I at 8 am and Rite II at 10 am with Music, Sunday School, Nursery Care, followed by enhanced
Coffee Hour and Rite 13 Class.
Feb. 4 is also Scout’s Own Sunday, and St. John’s will be hosting the CT Chapter of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew at an enhanced coffee hour and we will take up our Annual SOUPER BOWL collection to benefit the Cornerstone.
Feb. 5 7 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Undercroft
Feb. 6 11:45 Senior Luncheon in the Lower Parish Hall
Feb. 7 NO 7 pm Holy Eucharist
Feb. 7 7:30 pm Brotherhood of St. Andrew Meeting in the Undercroft
Feb. 8 7:30 pm Senior Choir rehearsal
Feb. 11 Rite I at 8 am and Rite II at 10 am with Music, Sunday School, Nursery Care, followed by Coffee Houand Rite 13 Class
Feb. 11 ECW Meeting at 11:30 in the LPH side classroom
Feb. 11 5 pm Stewardship Dinner with the Rt. Rev. Dr. Laura J. Ahrens
Feb. 12 7 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Upper Parish Hall
Feb. 14 Ash Wednesday Worship and the Imposition of Ashes at noon and at 7 pm in the Sanctuary
F15 Feb 10:30 Pastoral CareGivers at Fox Hill Nursing Home
Feb. 15 7:30 pm Senior Choir Rehearsal
Feb. 18 First Sunday of Lent, Rite I at 8 am and Rite II at 10 am with Music, Sunday School, Nursery Care, followed by Coffee Hour and Rite 13 Class. Noon:
Feb. 19 7 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Undercroft
Feb. 20 7 pm Good Grief Group in the Upper Parish Hall
Feb. 21 6 pm Lenten Soup Supper, Study and Eucharist at St. John’s in the Lower Parish Hall
Feb. 22 7:30 pm Senior Choir Rehearsal
Feb. 25 Second Sunday of Lent, Rite I at 8 am and Rite II at 10 am with Music, Sunday School, Nursery Care, followed by enhanced Coffee Hour with Thrivent presentation and Rite 13 Class
Feb. 25 5:30 pm in the Lower Parish Hall Environmental Comm. Potluck Supper and Movie night featuring “Dirt”
Feb. 26 7 pm Vestry in the Undercroft
Feb. 26 7 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Upper Parish Hall
Feb. 27 7 pm Women’s Spiritual Growth Group in the Undercroft
Feb. 28 10:30 am Pastoral CareGivers at Riverside Nursing Home
Feb. 28 6 pm Lenten Soup Supper, Study, and Eucharist at All Saints, East Hartford
March 1 7:30 Senior Choir Rehearsal
March 4 Third Sunday of Lent, Rite I at 8 am and Rite II at 10 am with Music, Sunday School, Nursery Care, followed by Coffee Hour and Rite 13 Class
March 5 7 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Upper Parish Hall
March 6 11:45 am Senior Luncheon
March 7 6 pm Lenten Soup Supper, Study, and Eucharist at St. John’s in the Lower Parish Hall
March 8 7:30 Senior Choir Rehearsal
March 11 Fourth Sunday of Lent, Rite I at 8 am and Rite II at 10 am with Music, Sunday School, Nursery Care, Rite 13 Class, followed by ECW hosted light lunch and Labyrinth Walk
March 12 7 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Undercroft
March 13 7 pm Good Grief Group in the Upper Parish Hall
March 14 6 pm Lenten Soup Supper, Study, and Eucharist at All Saints in East Hartford
March 14 7:30 pm Brotherhood of St. Andrew meeting in the Undercroft
March 15 10:30 am Pastoral CareGivers at Fox Hill Nursing Home
March 17 NE CT 9 am- 3 pm Regional Lenten Quiet Day at St. Peter’s, So. Windsor (see details in Parish Pearls)
March 17 5:30 pm Annual Corn Beef and Cabbage Dinner
March 18 Fifth Sunday of Lent, Rite I at 8 am and Rite II at 10 am with Music, Sunday School, Nursery Care, followed by Coffee Hour and Rite 13 Class
March 19 7 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Undercroft
March 20 7 pm Women’s Spiritual Growth Group in the Undercroft
March 21 6 pm Lenten Soup Supper, Study, and Eucharist at St. John’s in the Lower Parish Hall
March 22 7:30 Senior Choir Rehearsal
March 25 PALM SUNDAY, Rite I at 8 am and Rite II at 10 am with Music, Sunday School, Nursery Care, followed by Coffee Hour and Rite 13 Class
March 26 7 pm Vestry in the Undercroft
March 26 7 pm Kitting Fellowship in the Upper Parish Hall
March 28 10:30 Pastoral CareGivers at Riverside Nursing Home
March 28 7 pm Holy Eucharist and Healing Prayers
March 29 7 pm Maundy Thursday Worship and Eucharist
March 30 Good Friday Sanctuary Open for quiet prayer and Stations of the Cross from noon till 3 pm
March 30 7 pm Good Friday Worship Service, with Communion
April 1 EASTER SUNDAY 8 am Rite I with Music and 10 am Rite II with Music and Nursery Care
April 2 7 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Undercroft
April 3 11:45 am Senior Luncheon
April 4 NO evening Eucharist
April 5 Senior Choir Rehearsal
April 8 Easter I 8 am Rite I and 10 am Rite II with Music, Sunday School, and Nursery Care, followed by Coffee Hour and Rite 13 Class
April 9 7 pm Knitting Fellowship in the Undercroft
April 10 7 pm ECW Meeting in the Undercroft
April 11 10:30 am Pastoral CareGivers at Riverside Nursing Home
April 11 7 pm Holy Eucharist and Healing Prayers followed by Bible Study
April 11 7:30 pm Brotherhood of St. Andrew Meeting in the Undercroft
April 12 7:30 pm Senior Choir Rehearsal
Save the Date!
April 21 St. John’s Got Talent Show and Dessert Night
April 28 Town Wide Tag Sale