Category Archives: Worship
Dear Friends in Christ,
Lent is a season of reflection. It comes from an old English word meaning “a lengthening.” And as the days become longer, we watch for signs of spring when nature sings a song of renewed life, energy and growth. This year I wonder if spring will ever come. But I know the season will turn and we see new signs of life.
Lent can also be a dangerous time. People come to the church looking for discipline and a new way to live, they come to be challenged and prepared for the despair and joy of the cross to come. The problem with Lent, however is we contain it to six weeks of doing good rather than creating a Lent that becomes a life. This year I would ask you to look at Lent with a life-giving lens and consider new ways to serve, give, and live that give life and joy not just for yourself but for others.
Let’s turn Lent upside down. Let’s be a little crazy. What if we gave up giving up and gave away faith: life-giving faith to those around us? How about a season of Lent that gives life? What if we woke up our faith…or stirred up our faith…and gave away our faith? What if we didn’t contain this to just the season of Lent but extended this beyond Easter? How about extending this for the rest of our lives! What if what we did for Lent became our life?
This year for the Season of Lent I will be focusing on the preface for Lent that we say at the Eucharist… that is “Let us prepare with joy for the Paschal feast”. Maybe that seems narrow to some. But I would like us to do just that, prepare with joy and build a Lent that feeds; to build a Lent that leads to life.
Our Wednesday evenings in Lent will be a night of food, conversation and prayer. Each week you will have a choice of four prayers to pray for the week. Over dinner we will share in the Eucharist and have conversation of how the prayer we prayed came to life in the week past. The program will begin at 6:00 pm and conclude by 7:30 pm.
I ask you begin to prepare for the season of Lent with this prayer from Stephen Charleston’s book Cloud Walking:
I pray a holy season for you, a season of answered prayer. I know there must be a longing in your heart, a hope you carry close. It may be a sudden change, a deep desire, even an older wish made long ago by a well of memory you believe may have gone dry. I will turn my own spirit toward you. I will join you in the stillness or the sorrow. I will lift my voice beside you. I will be the echo of your call. And while we wait together, to hear the reply, to see the result, I will share this season with you, the season of answered prayer. Cloud Walking, Stephen Charleston, © 2013 Red Moon Publishing p. 31.
With my deepest gratitude for all that you do
and all that you are, I am…
Yours in Christ,
Gloria in excelsis Deo
The Christmas story is filled with spectacular moments. Crowds surge into Bethlehem. Shepherds look into the sky, witness the angelic hosts, and hear heavenly voices in song: “Glory to God!” But it is the blessed Virgin, in her silent worship, who recognizes most powerfully that God has done something utterly extraordinary.
God breaks in… “The Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). And we have seen the glory of Christ, full of grace and truth.”
God’s answer to hardened hearts is utterly unexpected. God doesn’t thunder at us from afar. No great announcement… no loud bang…. no grand entrance… just a mother, a father, a child born in manger. He could have been born in a palace fit for a king… but chose more humble surroundings.
During this Christmas season let us reflect how we celebrate the wonderful truth of Jesus Christ through metaphor, story, and poetry, and how our special Christian language enlivens a vision for our community and challenges us to find common language to share our experience of God with others. What child is this? It is the Christ child who is brought to us for our salvation. Let us remember, in our fast paced world of high technology, the simple story of the messengers, the manger and the Christ child.
May the true gifts of this season be yours:
The gift of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love
that is found in One born in Bethlehem,
Christ Jesus our Lord.
With my deepest gratitude for all that you do and all that you are, I am…
Yours in Christ,
My friends in Christ,
There are times when I sit on the dock and look out at on the water and it is very still. This typically happens late in the day and when the reflections are stunning. I call it ‘mirror time’. The reflection truly looks like a mirror image of the landscape. For this to take place, the sun has to be just right and the water as still as can be. It doesn’t happen every night… but when it occurs it takes my breath away.
Mirror time – when the reflections are just as brilliant on the water as it is looking at the actual houses and trees. It is the way the sun reflects off the windows as well as the way it lights up the colors on the trees. Beautiful images are always difficult to put into words, and one way I can sum up all that beauty is: Mirror time.
That is when I realize that not every moment in my life is an absolute 100% reflection of God’s love and grace. If it were, I wouldn’t be human. But as often as possible I try to reflect the love that God has shown and given to me. To be that reflection of God’s love is being aware of our time, treasures and talents. When we look at things in that reflective mindset, we can see that all we have is really God’s. It isn’t given to us because of our achievements or what we do or who we are, but rather it is given out of God’s love and grace. There is a story written by Bishop Greg Rickel that reminds me about God’s generosity in this newsletter, please take a moment to read it.
All that we have God has given us. For the ministry to continue in Bristol, Indiana, through the parish of St. John of the Cross Episcopal Church, it will take all of us. Each and every one of us… We must work on our invitation. We must always provide hospitality. We must be willing to share our faith with others. This year I ask that you consider your giving, your pledge, your stewardship, remembering that all you have been given is by the grace of God. As you prayerfully consider your pledge this year I pray that it will be a mirror image of God’s gift to you. Amen.
With my gratitude for all that you are and for all that you do, I am
Your servant in Christ,
Dear Friends in Christ,
Most of us are familiar with the forty days of Lent and the twelve days of Christmas, but beyond Easter Sunday, how familiar are we with the Great Fifty Days of Easter? Easter isn’t just a day, it is a season. It is also a season of great joy. Because Christ is risen, the fasting of Lent gives way to the feasting of the Easter season and the celebration of new life.
The Easter season begins on Easter Day by celebrating Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Each of the Gospels gives an account of the resurrection: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20. And yet, that is just the beginning. From the gospel stories of the empty tomb, we move through the rest of Eastertide hearing of the various accounts of the risen Christ appearing to the disciples: while in a room with the doors locked, on the road to Emmaus, while fishing on the Sea of Galilee, and more.
According to the Acts of the Apostles 1:3, Jesus made appearances to the disciples over the course of forty days. On the fortieth day, he ascended into heaven, which we call “Ascension Day” (forty days after Easter Day). Just before he ascended, however, Jesus told his disciples to stay in Jerusalem, and that the Holy Spirit would soon come upon them with power, and they would become his witnesses “in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).
So, they stayed in Jerusalem, gathered in an upper room in prayer over the next several days. Then, on the tenth day (the fiftieth day after Easter Day) the Holy Spirit came upon them on the Jewish feast of Pentecost. Traditionally, Pentecost was both an agricultural festival and a celebration of when Moses received the Torah. Holding these two events side-by-side, we might say that just as the Spirit of God delivered life to the ancient Hebrews through the gift of the Torah, so the gift of the Spirit is given to bring life to all humanity.
For Christians, the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost marks the gift of the abiding and indwelling presence of God in all believers; the Spirit that is given to help us to be mature in our faith and guide us into all truth. The Spirit of God is given to forgive, strengthen, heal, teach, and be our constant companion on the journey of life.
All of this is to say that the mystery of Easter is profound. It is the story of a God who embraces our poverty, so that we may embrace the richness of God. It speaks to us of death, birth, growth, change, and transformation. It is a mystery to which we shall return again and again during our lifetime, and each time we do, its mystery will only grow. So you see, Easter really is much more than a day. May God richly bless and keep you this Easter season and always.
With my deepest gratitude for all that you do
and all that you are, I am…
Yours in Christ
Dear Friends in Christ,
Lent is a season of reflection. It comes from an old English word meaning “a lengthening.” And as the days become longer, we watch for signs of spring when nature sings a song of renewed life, energy and growth.
During lent we are called upon to reflect together as a community of faith on the final weeks of Christ’s ministry. We remember His betrayal, arrest, and suffering upon the cross. And we look to Easter Sunday with hope.
Lent is a time for us to reflect individually on our own discipleship. Perhaps you have taken on a new devotion or discipline for this time. You may have chosen to give up something.
Whatever your Lenten practice is this year I pray that it will deepen your relationship with Christ. With Christ as our compass on this Lenten journey may we pick up our crosses and follow Him and walk these 40 days with the assurance of Christ’s love and with the hope of renewal.
With my deepest gratitude for all that you do and all that you are,
I am… Yours in Christ Rev. Carol+
Arthur Lichtenberger, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church from 1958-1964:
Fast from criticism, and Feast on praise;
Fast from self-pity, and Feast on joy;
Fast from ill temper, and Feast on peace;
Fast from resentment, and Feast on contentment;
Fast from jealousy, and Feast on humility;
Fast from pride, and Feast on love;
Fast from selfishness, and Feast on service;
Fast from fear, and Feast on faith.
The Blessing of the Animals at LoveWay Inc. was a great day. Yes it was hectic. Yes it was different. The people at LoveWay were so appreciative of our coming. St. John of the Cross was paid the highest compliment by the Cadets of Howe as they requested to do this again next year. They appreciated the hospitality of our hosts and of the parish. Thank you! I heard from many of you how impressed you were with the Cadets. Let’s continue to explore ways to be a part of the lives of these cadets.
Our next opportunity to worship together is December 19th at The Chapel of St. James for the annual Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols. The time for this is 11:40 am. Our choir has been asked to sing and we will also have the choir from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Sturgis. I hope that you all will come.
Our latest offering for study will begin Wednesday evenings this month. We will be offering Part I in Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus. The meeting dates/times will be Nov 7, 14, 28 and Dec 5 beginning at 6:30 – 7:30 pm. We will resume with Part II of the study during Lent. Steve Streeter and Cyd Sunday will be our leaders. The books are in and the cost is $13.50. We will not have the Wednesday Morning Bible during this time.
The colors of the season have just about run their course. The leaves have been spectacular: Bold splashes of color on the landscape. I never tire of the colors of autumn. The changing of the seasons marks another season for us. May we be that bold splash of color in our communities serving those around us. May we be thankful for work we do together and may we be bold to explore new ways of reaching out.
For all that you do and all that you are,
Yours in Christ,
Dear friends in Christ,
There’s been a wrapped gift in the sanctuary. I’m sure you have all seen it at some point. I didn’t plan the end of my sermon on Pentecost but trusted the Holy Spirit to finish. Here are excerpts of that sermon:
In the readings for Pentecost we hear of wind and of fire. These two words evoke very powerful images. These two words evoke for the disciples powerful memories. Images and memories from the stories they have heard and told time and time again throughout their lives as told in the scriptures The Torah. They knew the Old Testament like the back of their hands. When Jesus promised that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit, they would remember the stories of God’s Spirit in their scriptures –– in their history.
Fire: What stories do we remember that deal with fire…
• The burning bush
• Pillar of fire by night to give light
• Fiery furnace
• I think of the story of the road to Emmaus… when the two men said.. “And were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us.”
• In today’s world we see the image of fire…we see its destructive power…the fires that ravage a forest or building.
I think of the one who tends the fire. Or the one who carried the fire… before the matches… the one who carried the embers as the group traveled from one place to another. An ember that stands alone will soon go out… but when embers are gathered together… they build off one another and flames begin.
How would you use the image of fire to describe your faith? I think there are times I am an ember… burning quiet even struggling to stay lit. At times I am that slow steady burning log… like the duraflame logs. Sometimes I am the fire starter…a match…my purpose is to get things started. And perhaps times when my fire is out of control… but I hope in a good way… where my heart burns as Christ opens the scriptures and sends me on my mission.
As you examine your life… your fire… If your fire is blazing…then spread the good news with others. Share the gift.
However, if you feel that your fire is barely burning – if the ruach-the Spirit has gone out of you… Come to the well and be renewed. Feast on His word. Soak yourself in prayer and praise. Open the gift that is waiting for you.
Come, Holy Spirit, and renew in us the fire of your love.
Fill us with holy expectancy as we gather in the name of Jesus.
Give us a passion for the Gospel, a heart for the lost, a willingness to do whatever it takes, and a commitment to one another.Stir up Your power within us, encourage us, empower us as disciples who make disciples for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Well, I went over and sat down. I asked if someone would please let the Spirit out of the box. And sure enough the Spirit moved in Josh to come up to the altar and open the gift. We watched in suspense as he worked on unwrapping the box. Finally he opened it and pulled out the red paper… and looked quite shocked at its contents. Or should I say lack of contents. I explained the box was empty because the Holy Spirit was given to us through our baptism. All we had to do is open our hearts.
Mary, Mother of Jesus, stayed through out the vigil, she followed his steps. She saw his pain. She saw his agony. These stations attempt to present her thoughts. As we see through Mary’s eyes what Jesus went through on the way to Calvary.
May we enter into the suffering of Christ in such a new way so that we might find through this spiritual journey a new appreciation of what Christ did for us.
Join us for this special night of worship.