First Sunday of Advent, November 29, 2020

Beloved people of St. John’s,

So here we are! After a long eight months, we begin a new church year this Sunday, November 29. Happy Advent! Happy New Year! While it seems impossible that we have not worshipped together in our sanctuary since Lent, we have discovered new ways to be “Church” during this unusual time.

On Thanksgiving Eve, after our Evening Prayer service and during our Pizza fellowship, members of our congregation were commenting on how ZOOM has opened up community for them in ways that in-person worship had not. On ZOOM, we aren’t looking at the backs of heads; we see everybody’s faces! And seeing everyone comes with a bonus — the names of our sisters and brothers are right there for us to associate with faces! With ZOOM, people that are housebound or live far away can (and do) join us for worship and Bible study. As hard as it is to not be together giving hugs, singing as one and gathering around the altar for our family meal, we have found ways to build one another up, extending love and grace to each other through phone calls, grocery shopping, and daily worship.

As we begin this new season we remember that Advent is a time of living in the already and the not yet. Jesus has already come and abides with us right here and now. However, we have not yet enjoyed the fullness of God’s promise to bring peace, wholeness, and love to our broken and shuddering world. We are still waiting for God’s kingdom to come. We live in that tension of the already and not yet, a reality that I think we all are feeling acutely during this time of pandemic. And yet, you, dear people of God, are finding ways to bring the reign of Christ to meet the needs of people that are longing for love, understanding, a listening ear, a friend. You may think you aren’t offering much, but every phone call, kind word spoken, and the smiling eyes behind that very necessary mask you wear, embodies Christ’s presence to another. You are participating in bringing the kingdom of God in the now, modeling Emmanuel, Christ with us, to our wider community with gifts of food, help with laundry and countless other generous acts. Keep going, keep doing —you are making a difference, my friends.

Our schedule of ZOOM services remains the same:
• Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Morning Prayer at 9 a.m. Here is the worship bulletin for 1 Advent, Sunday, November 29.
• 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.

There will be no adult forum this weekend, but we’ll begin a new series next Sunday, December 6 at 10 a.m. For three Sundays we will use a podcast designed for use during the season of Advent: “Prophetic Voices: Preaching and Teaching Beloved Community”. Across our church and our society, we are having profound dialogues about race, truth, justice, and healing. This podcast explores where that dialogue intersects with our faith. Join us as we share prophetic voices and explore the readings for each week of Advent and Christmas Day through the lens of social justice. You’ll hear ancient texts interpreted in new ways, find fodder for preaching and teaching, and make present day connections to the prophetic voices of the Bible. This podcast will help us rethink how we hear, see, and interact with the lectionary readings, refocusing from the rush of the Christmas season to the voice crying out in the wilderness. Please drop Scotty King an email to let her know you’d like to participate and she’ll send you the ZOOM link.

Rev. Christopher continues his vacation and will not be available for office hours this week.

My office hours are Thursdays from 10-11 a.m. at this link.

With love and deep gratitude, 

Reverend Karen Maurer, Associate Vicar