My sisters and brothers in Christ:

We worship as usual this weekend: Our convenient community Holy Eucharist service on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 5 p.m. and on the Second Sunday in Lent at 8 and 10 a.m. We’ll hear scripture readings about sacred ground in which our historical faith narrative is rooted: God giving Canaan to Abraham and his descendants, and Jesus lamenting over Jerusalem.

practicingcompassioncoverIn his book Practicing Compassion, centerpiece of our Lenten study at St. John’s, Dr. Frank Rogers, exploring  the sacred ground of the God-formed human heart, writes, “We can only extend compassion to others when compassion has been extended to us….People who extend compassion to us are the guardians of our souls.” Who were and are our guardians? For whom do we serve in that role? This Sunday, Feb. 21 at 9 a.m. in the Bishop’s Room, we meet for our second conversation about Practicing Compassion. We have a few copies of the book left, free of charge, for those who’d like to join in. (Regardless of what I said at last Sunday’s class, we only have to read through ch. 2, page 58, for this week!)

A key element of Dr. Rogers’ compassion practice is listening more carefully to others and understanding their experiences. We have a unique opportunity to do so on Sunday.

In 2005, Lt. Col. Bill Russell Edmonds, then a U.S. Army special forces captain, arrived in Mosul to advise Iraqi intelligence personnel during the height of the insurgency against Iraqi and coalition forces. Last year, he published a critically acclaimed account of his experiences and the lessons he learned about the sometimes irresolvable moral choices of modern warfare. His book is called God Is Not Here: A Soldier’s Struggle With Torture, Trauma, and the Moral Injuries of War.

This Sunday, Feb. 21 at 2 p.m., Col. Edmonds, who is still on active duty, will speak and take questions at the Bell Tower Regional Community Center, 22232 El Paseo, Rancho Santa Margarita. You’re invited to come, listen, and understand — to be a guardian of the soul of a guardian or our freedom. The event is sponsored by a new non-profit organization based at St. John’s Church, the Higher Calling Council of Saddleback Valley, and Strength in Support, a non-profit that provides mental health services to our veterans and their families.

Bill, who grew up in The Episcopal Church, will be at the 10 a.m. service on Sunday. His talk Sunday afternoon is free and open to the public, so tell a friend, especially a vet. We’ll take a free will offering and have copies of his book on sale, which he’ll inscribe for you during the event. All proceeds will benefit Strength in Support.

Yours in Christ’s love,
Fr. John

P.S.: Calling all St. John’s engineers!  Head of school Michael Pratt and his colleagues need your help on Steam Day (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). On Thursday, March 3 beginning at 8 a.m., volunteer engineers will assist our students as they discover their inner engineers by solving STEAM problems. (That scene in “Apollo 13” where the astronauts make a filter out of duct tape, hosts, and assorted junk? Classic STEAM project.) Lunch is included. If you would like to participate, please contact Cindy in the church office ASAP at (949) 888-4534 or