About 25 years ago, I was going through a particularly depressing, sad, self-pitying season of life. Because I did not have the skills to handle this crisis, I sought the counsel of a friend-therapist who had the nickname of ‘The Holy Spirit’ to help me. He was a deeply spiritual man, a psychologist by trade, and an Episcopalian by choice. His wisdom and gentle nature proved fundamental in my recovery from loss as well as the many thousands of others who sought him out. Optimism always followed him, and I always looked forward to the times I would run into him, get a hug from him, and hear his strong positive voice.
Some years later, after finding out he was dying of a particularly painful sort of cancer, I went to see him at his home. I anticipated him to be still spiritual, still gentle. Surprisingly, I found him quite jovial. He was cheerful as he met me at his door, hospitable and joking as he served tea. Perhaps the oddest thing I noticed was that he was smiling from ear to ear throughout my visit.
Unable to hold back any longer, I blurted out, “Patrick, why are you so cheerful? You haven’t stopped grinning or joking since my arrival!” He looked at me and said one word: “Gratitude.” “You’re grateful for the cancer that is ravaging your body?” I asked. “No,” he said, “I’m grateful that you are still my friend. I’m grateful for the colorful flowers that surround my house. I’m grateful for a loving marriage that has nurtured me for many years. I’m grateful that I got another day to celebrate the good things in life.”
It was then that I realized something about Patrick: this optimism and joking way was not new; it was what drove his life forever! His whole life was marked with joy, with opportunity, and with blessings. He told me that he made a life of naming the many times he was blessed by the abundance of God and to name those blessings aloud when he became aware of them.
Unmistakably, this practice had made Patrick’s life a thing of beauty, as it blessed everyone who knew him.
Gratitude, like love, is not something that arises in the seat of emotions only to fade away with time. Like love, a life of gratitude comes out of a decision I make to take notice, to name the things that bless me, to celebrate them, and to allow gratitude to transform me into action.
For the foreseeable future, St. John’s – in our communications, our preaching, our private conversations – will be deliberate about naming those things by which we have been blessed and naming the opportunities for us to be blessed through our participation.
Gratitude leads to action. When I am consciously aware of the great things God is doing around me, for me, any sadness or self-pitying evaporates. With those burdens cast aside, I am liberated by Jesus — to see the blessings of others and my own ability to become a blessing to them.
Our Gratitude Committee is helping keep our focus on the things around us that bless us as a community, and where and how we can become blessings to others. I believe that with such a focus, we will become less persuaded by polarizing conversations, false narratives, superficial differences attempting to define us, and by self-serving agendas that keep us isolated. I believe that with an Attitude of Gratitude, God will strengthen our bonds and unite us in our efforts to live the Gospel of reconciliation, of peace, and of service.
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Here’s Sunday’s worship bulletin.
The Rt. Rev. Diane Jardine Bruce joins us for worship and the BBQ. Please sign up and let us know what you’ll bring, and whether you can lend a hand for set up and take down.
Feel free to sign up to bring more than one item — show off your cooking/baking/design talents! In addition to burgers and hot dogs we’re also having tri-tip.
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Here’s What Else is Happening at St. John’s:
+ Saturday evening In-person worship is at 5 p.m. today. Join us!
+ Godly Play, Sunday School, and the Nursery are open to receive your children!
+ Dates to Save:
• September 12 for the St. John’s BBQ (now with tri-tip!) and Bishop’ Bruce’s visit — here’s the sign up link.
• Saturday, November 6 our annual fellowship event and fundraiser. Details for all the events in the News.
+ Caregiving Group Meets Wednesday, September 8, 6 pm, via ZOOM. Details in the News
+ You can drop food donations for RSM Cares Food Pantry at church on Sundays. Items needed include soup, chili, beans; pasta, pasta sauce; peanut butter, jelly, and also grocery store gift cards. Next distribution day is September 15.
+ Join the Altar Guild! Learn more, by contacting Christy Morinello.
+ Youth Group is back from Summer break. If you’re in junior or senior high, or have started college, ZOOM with us! We meet in-person September 8 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. for pizza and games. Get more YG info from Patti Peebles, our Youth Pastor and School Chaplain.
+ Women’s Hybrid Bible Study meets Wednesdays from 10:15 – 11:30 a.m. at DJ Gomer’s home. Hybrid = in-person and on ZOOM.
+ Women’s book club, Book It On Mondays!, meets next September 27, 7 p.m. on ZOOM. Details, including book title, in the News.
+ Children’s Ministry: become a Godly Play teacher for our littlest members on Sunday mornings. Details in the News.
+ 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 scheduled to meet Saturday, September 18, Kathy O’Connor’s home in Pasadena has been postponed by the author until 2022.
+ More news/events/volunteer opportunities available in the News by clicking below on the Altar Flowers pic.
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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. Rev. Christopher sends the links in his Saturday email; if you’d like the links and to receive St. John’s news, let us know!
• Sunday morning worship will be held in-person at church and on ZOOM at 9 a.m.
• Saturday in-person worship in the church at 5 p.m. with live music.
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