Jesus often talks about what “the kingdom of heaven” is like. He is talking about what life on earth is like when we are rooted in the Spirit, live as beings made in God’s image and follow Jesus’ example. But there is only one time that Jesus actually talks about what comes in the next life, what we have come to call Judgment Day. (Matthew 25:31-46) He is clear about how we shall be judged. He says nothing about our religious observance, whether we have adhered to “doctrine, discipline and dogma.” He says nothing about our actual achievements.
Jesus says that all that matters is how we have treated one another. He commends some “for I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you gave me clothing, sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me.” The people are puzzled because they never did that for Jesus. He responds “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Jesus then condemns those who never showed concern for others.
Jesus is talking about a way of being in the world: rooted in compassion so that we act out of compassion. How does this happen? It is chicken- and- egg We are taught by word and example (at home, school, church) to be kind, generous, etc. We are treated this way by someone else. So we are kind. It may not feel natural,. It is not always easy. But each time we act out of compassion, we re-form our spirit a bit. This can become habit forming: eventually concern and care for our sisters and brothers becomes woven into the fabric of our being. It starts to come naturally and the more we do it …. the more we do it.
How often I have heard from someone in need that sometimes the hardest part is the shame, knowing that others see them as a problem, blaming or judging them. Scripture has an answer for that. Jesus is drawing on his roots in the Hebrew Scriptures when talks about how we should care for one another. There is never a question of why a person is hungry or naked, no talk of blame. The focus in on the person’s need, not the how or why. It is a given that there will be need. And it is up to us make it a given that there will be a response. Always know that if you cannot meet someone’s need, respecting their dignity makes a difference.
There has never been a lack of human suffering. Today the media alerts us to the depth and breadth. One days’ paper contains stories about the opioid crisis, racial injustice, child abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, homophobia, economic injustice, unemployment, environmental devastation, homelessness, war, immigration and refugee crises .… It can feel overwhelming. It is overwhelming. Thinking about doing something about it can be overwhelming.
Jesus is not saying that each of us needs to address the problems of every person in need. As individuals, as families and as church, we must make choices about how to spend our resources. (And we do need to meet our own needs. On an airplane, you put on your own oxygen mask before putting one on your child. Otherwise, you could both perish.) Some are called to full time ministry, others have a few hours a month to volunteer. If you cannot commit time to something specific, opportunities will come your way. You may never know the difference you make in someone’s life by simply treating them with compassion.
How do you choose where to focus? “Your ministry is where the world’s need and your passion meet.” (Attributed to various sources.) How do you know what your passion is? A way to find out is to pay attention to yourself. What do you read about online? What tugs at your heart and your head? What are your gifts? Ask a trusted friend what gifts and interests s/he sees in you. And of course pray to the Spirit for inspiration.
In the parish we care for each other, the greater community and the world. As I write, adults and teens from St. John’s are in the Dominican Republic building homes, and also building relationships. Once again we are collecting new school supplies for kids whose parents cannot afford to buy them. And every day parishioners are reaching out to others who are ill, struggling, lonely.
No parish can have an active ministry in all areas. Several parishioners are active in ministries outside of the parish. (Stay tuned for stories about this in future Chimes and weekly E-news.) The Diocese and the national Church have a variety of ministries focusing on particular needs. The local Episcopal clergy collaborate on some ministries, and we work with the Interfaith Community.
Living out of compassion means responding with the same compassion to new challenges. As the needs of the world change, so must our ministries. I was in seminary in the late 1980’s. Three of the major focuses of ministry - AIDS, Crack, and Homelessness – had not existed ten years earlier. At the Vestry Mid-Year Retreat in June, we discussed the need to discern what the parish mission and ministry is now and in the immediate future. Please join the Vestry and clergy in praying for guidance.
I wish you a restful summer with moments of unexpected delight. The parish community will gather every Sunday at 8 and 10, so we’ll be together in spirit. Send postcards from your travels … even if you travel into town for a Walter’s hot dog.
In peace and prayer, with gratitude for the Body of Christ at Fountain Square,
Reverend Gwyneth / Rev G
Mother Alissa will be on Maternity Leave until late September, and I’ll be away part of the summer. Please know that all the pastoral needs of the parish will be met during this time. This is always a priority. During July, local Episcopal clergy will be available. (It is our custom to cover for one another during vacation and other absences.) During August and September, The Rev. Lauren Kuratko will be available for pastoral care as well as serving on some Sundays. As always, you can call the parish office to contact a priest; when the office is closed, the voicemail message will tell you how to get in touch with a priest.
The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool will be making a Visitation to St. John’s on September 30th. She will preach and celebrate, and then join us for coffee hour. As is customary with an Episcopal Visitation, at the service the Bishop will do Confirmations and Receptions. Confirmation is for individuals who have been baptized and want to make an “adult” commitment to following Christ. If you were baptized in another denomination, this is also how you officially join the Episcopal Church. If you were Confirmed in another denomination and would like to join the Episcopal Church, then you are “Received” into the Church by the Bishop. This is also an opportunity for Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows. People reaffirm their Baptismal Vows for different reasons, including returning to church or to Christ after a period of absence, or to signify a deepening of faith and commitment.
If you are interested in learning more about Confirmation, Reception or Reaffirmation, please leave a message with the Parish Office or speak with Rev. Gwyneth. There will be an “Inquirers’ Class” (also known as Episcopal 101) in September. Everyone is welcome to take the class – even life-long Episcopalians usually learn something. Details in the August Chimes.
(Note: There is no pressure to officially join the Church. You can be an active member of the parish without ever being Confirmed or Received. It is actually very Episcopal to have this apparent conundrum. Why? Come to class and find out.)
Stewardship as a Way of Life
By Robin Ingram and Dami Burckin
Last year, we encouraged parishioners to think about stewardship more fully and to think about contributing time and talent as well as treasure. We said Everyone Counts and indeed we wouldn’t be St. John’s without each and every one of us.
This year’s campaign is STEWARDSHIP AS A WAY OF LIFE. We want to start thinking about stewardship all year long. In the fall, we will focus on treasure and kick off with the ever-popular chili supper on October 14, adult education on giving, and, of course, pledging. In the spring we will focus on our gifts of time and talent. To that end we will host some programming for kids and adults that discusses stewardship of the earth as well as a parish ministries fair with opportunities to more fully participate at St. John’s.
In fact, there are opportunities to participate right here on the stewardship committee. Please contact either Robin Ingram (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dami Burckin (email@example.com) to learn more. Participation is flexible and can be for a single event or an entire season. Everyone still counts – every person and every hour is an appreciated contribution!
At the Mamaroneck-Larchmont Student Aid Fund's annual Awards Ceremony on June 11, 2018, the Episcopal Church Women of St. John's Church Scholarship was awarded to Cecilia Gimenez. Cecilia - the first generation in her family to attend college - will be attending Marist College where she plans to follow a pre-med program. While at Mamaroneck High School, Cecilia has been part of the Shakespeare program and PACE, and has been on the track/cross county teams. The ECW has given a grant annually to the Student Aid Fund for a number of years. Parishioners Mike O'Connell, Nancy Pierson, and Linnet Tse are currently serving on the SAF Board. Nancy represented the ECW at the ceremony and is shown with scholarship recipient Cecilia Gimenez.
ECW Hears From parishioner Helping Inmates transition to rewarding lives
On a balmy evening overlooking Long Island Sound, 72 women from St. John's came together for the annual ECW dinner on Wednesday, June 6.
The contributions of all to the life of our parish were evident as talked ranged from the recent Confirmation, Altar Guild, the Bazaar, Adult Education, Midnight Run, and more.
Lifelong parishioner Eliza McCurdy was our speaker and her talk was riveting. A Senior Reentry Specialist with The Osborne Group at Riker's Island, Eliza works firsthand with one of our most marginalized and challenging populations, prison inmates. She supervises a team of Reentry Specialists who facilitate programs to provide inmates with skills ranging from anger management and financial literacy.
From The Rev. Dorothy Greene
The extraordinary celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood is an especially cherished high point in my life. I am deeply grateful to everyone who participated on that memorable day. At age 87, it is such a blessing to know that my service in Christ’s name over so many years has had meaning for others as well as myself. Thank you!
St. Cecilia's Choir offers preschool and older children the opportunity to experience lead worship through the joy of music. During the June Family Liturgy, the choristers, performed a rousing gospel rendition of This Little Light of Mine. Please click the link below to watch this adorable group. Warning! You won't be able to stop yourself from smiling and singing along.
Members of the St. Cecilia’s Choir
Ellie Carr (Junior Choir)
Hadley Hall (Junior Choir)