by the Rev. Karen Maurer, Associate Vicar
Over the past few weeks I have been noticing a wide variety of signs that point to the presence of God right here, right now. I am thinking this probably is not an accident, but more like a Holy Spirit thing because, for the next five Sundays, our Gospel readings will be from John, right in the middle of what is known as the Book of Signs (chapters 1-12).
In this Gospel, the signs are numerous: Jesus changing water to wine, healing the sick, an encounter with a Samaritan woman drawing water from a well, and, coincidentally, this Sunday’s passage where Jesus feeds the 5,000 and walks on water. And just in case we think we recognize all the signs, there are signs within the signs.
When Jesus feeds the multitude, an event recorded in all four Gospels, there are a couple of details that are unique to John. John tells us the loaves of bread were made from barley, which indicates that the crowd was not wealthy, for barley was the grain used by the poor. A second detail unique to John is that Jesus is the one who distributes the bread and fish to the people, not the disciples as in the Synoptics.
Within the walking on water story is another sign: the disciples are in the dark, facing stormy seas. And imbedded throughout John’s Gospel are Jesus’s “I Am” statements. Lots and lots of signs where Jesus is pointing us to our loving, ever-present, creative God.
In this Sunday’s reading, one of the beautiful details is that the main emphasis is of Jesus giving of himself, something he does regularly as a signpost so that people are led to witness God’s glory, not his own. Jesus is deliberately pointing to God’s desire to be in intimate relationship with each of us, distributing the bread and fish by his own hand (verse 11). You may notice throughout the Gospel that Jesus always brings the conversation around to God! Signs…
One of the signs I have been basking in as of late is worship, especially in our Saturday evening service. My soul is fed in the intimacy of a smaller group, the music that speaks to my heart, and in the opportunity to explore God’s word in a quiet, contemplative setting.
Another opportunity where signs emerge is in my quiet time. Lately I have been meditating on stories from the Old and New Testaments, employing the contemplative practice of putting myself in the story, so that I might experience God’s presence.
Recently, I was thinking about Jesus walking with the disciples from place to place. Since one of my favorite contemplative practices is walking, I put myself in the story, choosing to be very quiet and to see where walking with Jesus took me. I was really engaging in the time between the big, eventful stories, seeking to enjoy the simple walking along with Jesus, and in that walking, experiencing a wonderful companionship, peace, joy and laughter. It brought to mind walking experiences I had on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain, where my friends and I walked along, sharing stories, being quiet, laughing and enjoying the beauty of our surroundings and all of the folks we encountered wishing us a “Buen camino!” Such peace!
So, my friends, what are the signs of Emmanuel, God with us that you have experienced lately? Have you had a big, feeding the 5,000 kind of moment, or a quiet, unobtrusive walking as a “companion on The Way” moment with God? If you haven’t had any signpost moments lately, I invite you into the ever-beckoning voice of God to “Come and See.”
Here’s to the signs and wonders we encounter, that they might awaken us anew.
With joy in the journey,
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Here’s your worship bulletin for Sunday, July 25.
Thanks for helping St. John’s be eco-friendly . . . In order to help St. John’s save on paper and toner, please print the bulletin at home or use your device to follow along during the service.
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Get all the details here in the St. John’s News. For an at-a-glance at what’s coming up, read on!
+ Saturday evening In-person worship is at 5 p.m. today. Join us!
+ Harry Elliott’s memorial service is this Wednesday, July 28, 2 p.m.
+ You can drop food donations for RSM Cares Food Pantry at church Monday through Friday during office hours. Next distribution is Wednesday, August 4.
+ Godly Play, Sunday School, and the Nursery are open to receive your children!
+ Join the Altar Guild! Learn more, by contacting Christy Morinello.
+ Altar Flowers: remember loved ones with altar flowers! More than one donation can be submitted per week. Send your commemoration along with your name and mail it to the Church Office or drop off on Sundays while at church. Sixty dollars is the suggested flower donation.
+ Youth Group is on a brief Summer break, but usually ZOOMS on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Watch this space for more info.
+ BOOK IT ON MONDAYS! next meets Monday, July 26 at 6:30 p.m. Our book is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. Details in the News.
+ Women’s Hybrid Bible Study on Wednesday mornings, 10:15 – 11:30 a.m. at DJ Gomer’s home. Hybrid = in-person and on ZOOM.
+ Join us for coffee after the Sunday service on the lower courtyard (Learning Commons Courtyard) which is the perfect spot to hold coffee hour where tables, comfortable seating, and shade abound. We even have an elevator you can use to get there!
+ Women’s Ministry: Meet Saturday, September 18 Kathy O’Connor’s home in Pasadena (aka The Bishop’s residence) for lunch and a presentation by author Lian Dolan discussing her book, The Sweeney Sisters. Watch this space for more info.
+ Dates to Save:
•August 21 and 23 Pacific Chorale event via the Segerstrom Center.
•September 11 “Lest We Forget” — a free concert at St. John’s with the St. John’s Choir and The Festival Singers.
•September 12 the St. John’s BBQ and Bishop’s visit.
•November 6 our annual fellowship event and fundraiser. Details for all the events in the News
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We’re back on campus:
Clergy and staff are back in the Church Office. Schedule a time to come to the church office and meet face-to-face. Contact Rev. Christopher or 949.888.4568, or Rev. Karen or 949.888.4595, x239.
In-Person Worship Schedule:
• Evening Prayer or Compline ZOOM services continue to be held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m.
• Sunday morning worship will be held in-person at church and on ZOOM at 9 a.m.
• Saturday in-person worship in the church TODAY at 5 p.m.
We’ll see you at St. John’s!