Category Archives: News and Updates

Weekly Email from December 23, 2015

Click here to view the St. John of the Cross weekly email from Dec. 23, 2015.

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Weekly Email, 12/23/15

View our weekly email, dated December 23, 2015.

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An Invitation to Christmas Eve Worship

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Lent – A season of Reflection

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.

Lenten_crossLent 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 LeJesusnt 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,
Rev. Carol+

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Thanks-living

Dear Friends in Christ,

Here we are in the month of November, and soon we will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day. A time where we say “Lord, we’re so thankful for all You have done for us.” There’s nothing wrong, of course, with being thankful for all God has given us. But we need to do more than just offer thanksgiving to God. We need to do some thanks-living for God. One of the most meaningful things we will ever do as a Christian is to offer up to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving. What does that mean exactly to offer up to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving?

What we give is an offering to God. We know that much of the Old Testament is filled with the ceremonies of sacrifices and offerings. Remember, Moses did not design these ceremonies; God did. Therefore each and every one of them was sacred for they were designed first and foremost to honor God. Those who offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors God. Perhaps our giving of thanks will mean much more to God if it means much more to us. Rather than throwing our offering out as just one of our duties, we should pause and consider the goodness of God and give praise for all that God has done.

What we give is also sacrifice. Though not all the sacrifices of the Old Testament involved the slaying of an animal, all sacrifices required the offering up of something to the Lord. David said, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” (2 Sam 24:24 NRSV) There are times when we can give thanks without any real cost to us. However, some of the deepest and most meaningful times of thanksgiving come with a price tag. It’s one thing to thank God during a time of blessing, but something else to give thanks during hard times. Thanks-living…

What we give is also a thanks-giving. The Psalmist did not say, “He who offers a sacrifice begrudgingly honors God.” Instead he said, “Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me; to those who go the right way I will show the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:23)

I’m sure that Psalm 50:23 means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The Psalmist’s words can help us in our Thanks-living. For rather than lamenting over what we don’t have, we should be grateful for what we do have. So I pray, Lord help us to offer up to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Help us to live a life of thanksgiving by living thankfully.

With my gratitude for all that you are and for all that you do, I am Your servant in Christ.

Rev. Carol+

 

 

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Mirror Time

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,
Carol+

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For the changing of the seasons, may this prayer find its home in your heart.
With my gratitude for all that you are and for all that you do,
I am Your servant in Christ.  Rev. Carol+

 God of seasons and Sabbath,
God of our days and of our nights,
God of our hearts and of our minds;
You bless us with this ordinary time
that we might be renewed.

 Teach us to live slowly
and taste the goodness of Your love.

Show us how every moment
is alive with You,
far from ordinary,
trembling with hope,
shining with glory
and filled with promise.

AMEN.1

 

1Adapted Liturgy for the Whole Church. Susan K. Brock Church Publishing Inc. New York 2008

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July – August 2013

Dear Friends in Christ,

Here we are once again in Ordinary Time – the longest season of the church year. But it is certainly a busy season. We look ahead to the parade and Strawberry Festival. St John of the Cross has had a long standing presence in the parade and festivities. Once again thanks to those who have offered to coordinate this event. August will bring us together for our annual church picnic and Mass on the Grass. Ben Haas has offered his gift of photography that day and will be taking not only the group picture but individual shots for our photo board at church.

I will be taking vacation from July 14th – August 1. Rev. Brian Couvillion will be taking Sunday Services. Please contact the Senior Warden, Deb Walters, for any pastoral emergencies. She will be able to reach me if needed. I have made arrangements with our sister churches if emergencies arise.

Laura Barnett and I have been working on a new program offering for fall. It is still being fleshed out at this time of writing but we are calling it Table Talks and Faith Sharing. Watch for more details in our September Crossings. The program will run from September to May.

I hope you will find the extraordinary presence of God in this ordinary time. I close with this prayer.

God of season and Sabbath, God of our days and of our nights, God of our hearts and of our minds; You bless us with this time that we might be renewed. Teach us to live slowly and taste the goodness of Your love. Show us how every moment is alive with You, far from ordinary, trembling with hope, shining with glory and filled with promise. Amen.

With my deepest gratitude for all that you do
and all that you are, I am…

Yours in Christ,
Rev. Carol+

 

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I found this prayer and it spoke to me.  I use it often for centering prayer.  It settles deep into my bones. I leave you it with you as a prayer for the summer.  May it speak to your heart.

With my gratitude for all that you are and for all that you do, I am Your servant in Christ.  Rev. Carol+
 

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God
that you are exactly
where you are meant to be.

May you not forget
the infinite possibilities
that are born of faith.

 May you use those gifts
that you have received
and pass on the love
that has been given to you.

 May you be content
knowing you are a child of God.

 Let this presence settle
into your bones and
allow your soul the freedom
to sing, dance, praise, and love.

 It is there for each and every one of us.
Be still and be aware of God’s
presence within you and all around you.

May there be peace within.

 Teresa of Avila

 

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Come, Holy Spirit, and renew in us the fire of your love

Dear Friends in Christ,

In our season of Eastertide we heard the promise of the coming of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit.   And as the story continues… this month we celebrate The Day of Pentecost. We will witness of the giving of the Spirit and the power of the Spirit as the disciples speak with great conviction. They will go from being timid to being transformed. We will hear Peter speak boldly empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Christians consider the Day of Pentecost to be the birthday of the church because from that moment on, the disciples carried the message of Christ all over the world.  From that point on, a new community of faith was formed.  Jesus empowered that community of faith with new ways of speaking and hearing that the world had never before experienced.  It is a community of faith that is still with us today.

How will we be transformed? How will be we empowered?  How will we let the Holy Spirit enter our lives…break in and transform us?  How will we speak of our faith in ways that our community will come to know Christ?

On Pentecost Sunday, the liturgical colors change to red to symbolize the tongues of flame and the Holy Spirit.  During the Season after Pentecost our liturgical colors will be green.  The color green signifies our growing relationship with the risen Christ.

This Season is the longest period we have in the liturgical church year and it will begin on Sunday, May 19, 2013.  The Season of Pentecost ends at the Season of Advent, December 1, 2013.    We enter the season of Pentecost and call it Ordinary Time. It seems odd that we go from this pinnacle event of Pentecost and then call the remaining church year as ordinary.  Nothing is ordinary about the Holy Spirit.

Nothing is ordinary about the God we serve.  God takes the ordinary and makes it extra-ordinary.  How might we take this ordinary time and make it extraordinary?

In this season of Ordinary Time we will have a Free Community Meal, Strawberry Festival, August Trunk Sale, Tea with Ruth and Soup for Success, Fall Bazaar, Pantry Sunday, Trunk or Treat, Mass on the Grass and Picnic, Blessing of the Animals, just to name a few ordinary events.  May we find time in this coming season to let the Holy Spirit breathe new life into us and change our times to extra-ordinary!

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

With my deepest gratitude for all that you do

and all that you are, I am…

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Carol+

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