Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
November 8, 2020

When I started writing this morning on November 7, the country was still in ‘electoral limbo.’ Now, I toss aside what I started to write in order to address an important matter that lays before us.

It has felt like I have been walking on eggshells for the last five days – not knowing when and how the presidential election would end. Like many, I worried about the consequences from the outcome. Threats of violence to persons and property were floating in the air for almost a week. As the news hit this morning that there is a conclusion in-hand (ignoring the legal challenges), the eggshells seem still to be at risk of breaking. I think we have much to do, much to heal in our hearts and minds. Much more, I believe than just our political selves. We must attend to the healing of our very souls: to what divides us as a people and as a nation, to what has us at odds with those who disagree with us, to the gaps in justice that exist for racial and ethnic minorities, and yes – to the political polarization that created such mistrust among us.

Our hope is in who we are called to be by baptism. Our charter is as a sacred institution of healing. The church of Christ (that is, you and me) is ordained to reconcile and to absolve. The first step of reconciliation begins with us individually, with self-examination. Spending time listening to our hearts, to each other and asking, “How I have participated in sustaining the gulf that separates us?” Or to ask, “Where is my wound?” Then, we must confess our sin, say it out loud and ‘own it.’ For only in doing so is there liberation to be had. Then we are able to move towards repentance – making the free choice to step back and step away from the part of me that wants to be on the “inside,” instead identifying with being on the ‘outside;’ outside systems that marginalize members of God’s family. This may (should?) lead us to amendment of life – that process by which we change our behavior and start preferring only those behaviors that express love, unity, “COMMUNION.”

After these life-changing steps, and only after them, can there be absolution. We will come to recognize that we are again residents of the Edenic Garden – to walk and dance hand-in-hand with God, finding affirmation for who we are created by God to be. We will discovery that we are God’s beloved – all of us. Here, in this sacred space, the sins of hatred, prejudice, bigotry, sexism, and separatism no longer can haunt us, for we will be alive to the Eucharist that is us.

We have work to do!

Some information for you on this Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost (36 weeks of our efforts to keep each other healthy).

The St. John’s Church Pledge Drive is underway. It is inconceivable how to manage such an imperative fundraiser for the life and ministry of such an important community, but we must. Given your generosity of the last eight months, I must also TRUST!

• Our Parish Treasurer, Elizabeth Adams, cannot stand before you and give you the good news of how well we did this year – despite the obstacles of COVID. Instead, she writes you a letter that paints a clear and transparent picture of this years’ finances and we post them on our website following the videos.

• We cannot have wonderful ministers like Juan, like Robin, like BJ stand before you and bring you, sometimes through tears, the life-changing impact of your contributions to the ministry at St. John’s. So, we post those video-stories on our website!

• Neither can we have the clear and resounding voice of the People’s Warden, Jim Leach, preaching and teaching to us live from our sanctuary on a Sunday morning, telling us why your PLEDGE is so important. However, we can post his video on our website.

• We cannot hand you a Pledge card as you enter or leave the sanctuary this year, but we can mail it to you next week and allow you to put your faith into action by prayers and your financial support.

• We cannot ask you to put your pocket money into the collection plate as it is passed to you. However, we can give you the link to make extra contributions to St. John’s generally, or to the Thanksgiving Drive, or for Christmas. Send a text to 833-720-2956 with the message, “Give.” When connected, you can “List Funds” to make your targeted gift.

• We cannot have everyone walk up to the altar this month with the gift of a Pledge, blessing them for use in service to God. We will, however, celebrate the online in-gathering of our Pledges on the Sunday after Thanksgiving – a perfect opportunity for us to recognize God’s abundance and your commitment to each other and to the Gospel of Christ.

We have an opportunity to contribute to the welfare of others this Sunday at the Blood Drive. It’s running Sunday, November 8 from 8 am until 2 p.m. You can sign up online or stop by for an appointment. I’ll be there at noon!

Because our brother, Russ, is not in town this weekend (be safe, Russ), we will not celebrate Morning Prayer in our beautiful sanctuary Sunday, November 8. We will be online only with Zoom as before. However, let this serve as a reminder that we need tech-minded people (young and old) to assist with the technical requirements for our Sunday Morning worship. With a new sound mixer coming, it promises to be much simpler!

Next weekend (November 14 and 15) is the Diocesan Convention. All Delegates and Alternates are asked to attend. The virtual meeting will take place on Zoom with the link being sent to you next week.

On Sunday next week, after our worship service at 9 a.m., Bishop Taylor is celebrating an online Eucharistic service at 10 a.m. We hope you can join your family at St. John’s — 9 a.m. — while also extending our vision to be with our Diocesan family thereafter.

The Thanksgiving Food Drive is underway now. Learn how urgent is the need for Thanksgiving food this year, and learn how we intend to feed over 400 families with turkey and a full table of soul-nourishing food. You can shop for the specified food (grocery list at the above link), or donate $75 to have someone do the shopping for you!

Thinking of Thanksgiving, we are planning to keep our usual celebration of Prayer and Pizza on the eve of Thanksgiving! If you wish, you can order a “Make-at-Home” pizza from the parish, pick it up on Wednesday afternoon at the church, put it in the oven at 5:30 right as we begin our prayer service.  Then, when the buzzer signals that the pizza is done, we can eat together on that day as we have for so many years! The reservation process will be available next week.

Advent wreath making (with the multi-talented artist Kathe Hayden) will take place Sunday, November 29 at 11 a.m. on St. John’s patio. The cost is $10 per wreath. Announcement coming soon!

Parish Council meets Monday evening, November 9, at 5 p.m. Get the ZOOM link from Erin Schwarz.

Our schedule of ZOOM worship services remains the same:
• Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Morning Prayer at 9 a.m. Here is the worship bulletin for Sunday, November 8.
• Nighttime Prayer is prayed Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
• Bible Fellowship, open to all, continues Wednesday evenings at 6 p.m.

To ensure participants’ online security, we don’t publish the worship/study ZOOM links; if you did not receive the church-wide email from me with the links, and would like to attend services, please email me and I’ll add you to the e-blast, and send you the links.

Rev. Karen and I offer separate group office hours each week on ZOOM. My time is Tuesday morning from 10-11 a.m. Should you need a one-on-one session, just reach out and we’ll get something scheduled. My group office hour link.

Rev. Karen’s office hours are Thursdays from 10-11 a.m. at this link.

In God’s healing grace;