E-Newsletter for Sunday, December 2, 2018

Mustard Seed Sunday, Advent Choral Evensong, Vestry Nominations Open and more in the E-Newsletter for December 2, 2018  https://mailchi.mp/2f01da244832/ey7eu7o5mr-1425241

From the Sr. Warden
Ms. Cathryn Marshall
 

Dear *|FNAME|*,

I have had the honor and privilege of serving as your Senior Warden this year.

Yes, serving on Vestry is an honor and a privilege – it's not boring, it's not scary, and it's not something to be dreaded.  It's challenging, to be sure – we do have to make some tough decisions sometimes. But we also form deep connections with one another as we pray, and discuss, and wrestle with issues  together.  I have learned what people are passionate about, and what people struggle with.  I have even witnessed a Vestry member who was brave enough to vote in opposition to everyone else in the room, and was further brave enough to speak to us about why he was voting that way, and in fact, persuaded us to reconsider.

So if someone approaches you to ask if you would be willing to serve, please don't automatically say no. I would ask that you instead take some time to think about it, pray about it, and perhaps ask questions. Anyone who has served on Vestry would be glad to talk to you about the experience; and I am willing to bet you would hear mostly positive things about it. 

You should know that if someone asks if you are willing to serve, it's because we think you have the right stuff – and we want to work with you, and get to know you better.  And we believe that you have something unique to bring to the table. You may think that Jared would love to have a room full of "yes men" on the Vestry, but that is absolutely not the case!  After all, a Vestry filled with folks who have different perspectives actually functions better and is a better representation of the people of this congregation.

So please be open-minded about the possibility. Serving on Vestry is truly a rich and rewarding experience.

Yours in Christ,

The 2019 Vestry nomination forms are at the Parish Information Table. You may also submit someone as a candidate for Vestry online here

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, December 2, 2018   https://mailchi.mp/2f01da244832/ey7eu7o5mr-1425241

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, November 25, 2018

Thanksgiving, Fall Cleanup Day, Signup for our Annual Advent Wreath Workshop and more in the E-Newsletter for November 25, 2018  https://mailchi.mp/a9e92c0106f0/ey7eu7o5mr-1422185

From the Rector
The Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer, SCP
 

Dear *|FNAME|*,

When I first started in seminary, I remember being struck by how interesting the word is that Episcopalians use for Communion. Holy Eucharist, actually comes from the Greek word for Thanksgiving. 

That's why in our prayer book, when the dialogue begins between the priest and people ("Lift up your hearts / We lift them up unto the Lord."), that moment is called the Great Thanksgiving. At the core of Holy Communion is our own profound sense of gratitude for all the ways God has worked throughout history and in our own lives to bring us grace, love, and forgiveness.

But the Great Thanksgiving that is Holy Eucharist is much more than just a feeling of gratitude. It is an offering of gratitude. In the words of the prayer book, it is our sacrifice,

Q. Why is the Eucharist called a sacrifice?

A. Because the Eucharist, the Church’s sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, is the way by which the sacrifice of Christ is made present, and in which he unites us to his one offering of himself. (BCP 859)

Each Sunday, when we come to the altar, we offer our own sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God. We come with gratitude for the blessings of God, and offer that up to God in words of praise and thanksgiving.

But it's more than that. It's not just a feeling. It's also not just words. One of my favorite lines in any Eucharistic Prayer in the prayer book is in Rite I (the traditional language Rite we use at St. John's during the coming Season of Advent). In that rite, the priest says, 

And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee that we, and all others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son Jesus Christ, be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us, and we in him. (BCP 336)

That is, we offer our own souls and bodies to God in the Great Thanksgiving as well. We do not come to church only asking what we can receive. Rather, encountering the unexpected grace of God in Jesus Christ, we offer our souls and bodies up to that grace. 

And in that offering, something very holy happens. Because as both the Catechism and the Eucharistic Prayer I mentioned note, our own sacrifices—our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, of our souls and bodies—those are joined with the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

And through that, we are made one with him once more. This is the manner in which the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist strengthens us for service, the way it propels us out into the world to be the hands and feet of Christ. 

As you enjoy your Thanksgiving celebrations today, I hope you take a moment to ponder the invitation that is Holy Communion. Take a moment and think of how all the gratitude you feel today can be offered up to God, how that gratitude can inspire you to offer yourself even more fully to the work of God in this world. 

And then on Sunday, when you next come to the holy altar and receive the Body and Blood, be reminded that this sacrament is enabling you to be broken and shared for the world… a world that so desperately needs to hear of God's love and justice. 

I'm grateful for you, St. John's. Thank you for teaching me how to give ever more of myself in Christ's service. May we continue to join ourselves together in this great sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. 

Through Grace,

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, November 25, 2018   https://mailchi.mp/a9e92c0106f0/ey7eu7o5mr-1422185

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, November 18, 2018

Movie Group Tonight, SAVVY & Fall Follies Saturday Night and more in the E-Newsletter for November 18, 2018  https://mailchi.mp/d7e137376a7f/ey7eu7o5mr-1420445

From the Rector
The Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer, SCP
 

Dear *|FNAME|*,

Perhaps one of my favorite experiences of the Fall Follies was in the first year.

We had never done a parish talent show since I had been at St. John's and so I didn't know what to expect. The first act was announced and promptly Will Dickinson got onto a unicycle and rode it around the food table while singing, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." (There is even a video of it online….)

We probably could have stopped there, it was so spectacular.

Or maybe it was, I think, the year after that, when Kelly Ortquist did an absolutely spot-on rendition of "Poor, Unfortunate, Souls" from the Little Mermaid. She could have stepped right off of a broadway stage and into our parish, had I not known she was a parishioner! 

Or maybe it was the following year, when Brian Meeuwenberg (assisted by his dad) did an entire rap from Hamilton… did I mention that Brian was, I think, six years old when he did this? (There's a video of this one too…)

Suffice it to say, the Fall Follies is always a tremendously fun night of food, fellowship, and fun. There are people who sing, dance, recite poetry, or offer talents we had not yet considered possible. Apparently my own daughter, Lucy, will be performing with some other children in our family this year. That pretty much guarantees that whatever I do will absolutely not be the show-stopper!

If  you haven't signed up for the Fall Follies, do not despair! Just show up this Saturday night, November 17, at 5:30pm, in the Timberlake Hall. Bring a dish to pass and a (non-alcoholic) drink to share. If you haven't yet signed up to perform, you can do it when you get here. And even if you are not the performing type, I guarantee you will smile ear-to-ear at least a few times as you are entertained by your fellow parishioners. 

At the very least, you'll be entertained watching your priest get upstaged by his own daughter for what will probably not be the first time! 

See you Saturday!

Through Grace,

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, November 18, 2018   https://mailchi.mp/d7e137376a7f/ey7eu7o5mr-1420445

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, November 11, 2018

Veteran’s Day, Kitchen Manager Needed, Movie Night and more in the E-Newsletter for November 11, 2018  https://mailchi.mp/00297493e740/ey7eu7o5mr-1419393

From the Rector
The Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer, SCP
 

Dear *|FNAME|*,

One hundred years ago this Sunday, on Nov. 11, 1918, World War I ended. The fighting ended at 11:00am Paris time, “the eleventh hour on the 11th day of the 11th month.”

This day is often observed in other parts of the world as Armistice Day. In the United States, the observance moved to the second Monday of November and is the holiday we now know as Veterans' Day, a day to honor all those who have served in our nation's armed forces. 

But if you reach back through time to the Armistice Day origins, it sets everything in an important context—that the striving of our Veterans is a striving for greater peace in the world. That is why we celebrate them on the day that they achieved peace after four years of bloody conflict. 

The inside of the bulletin this Sunday has some helpful background information about World War I, a war whose history has been overshadowed by that of World War II and the other conflicts of the twentieth century:

On June 28, 1914, in the town of Sarajevo, Serbia, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, and his wife, Princes Sophia, were shot to death by a Serbian nationalist. Their assassinations were the catalyst that led to a world war that involved most of Europe and parts of the Near East as the Central Powers—Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey—squared off against an allied coalition that included Great Britain, France, Russia and Italy.

America avoided entering the conflict for almost three years, but on Good Friday, April 6, 1917, the U.S. Congress, at the request of President Woodrow Wilson, officially declared war on Germany. America’s time in combat, when compared to the rest of the allied forces, would be relatively short: on June 26 the first of 14,000 U.S. infantry troops landed in France to begin training and it wasn’t until November of 1917that American soldiers were sent to the front lines where on Nov. 2 the first Americans were killed.

On Nov. 10 the following year, 1918, the U.S. State Department announced that Germany had agreed to an armistice that would take effect three hours later. The war was over. Because the ceasefire was prearranged it was known in advance that the fighting would end that day. The Germans signed the agreement at midnight Nov. 11 Paris time (7 p.m. Nov. 10 Eastern Standard Time), but because their window of opportunity didn not close until 11 a.m. Paris time it was decreed that fighting wouldn’t end until then and in the intervening 11 hours thousands of soldiers died for nothing. Army Pvt. Henry Gunther of the 79th Division was killed at 10:59 a.m., a minute before the Armistice took effect. He was the last American killed in World War I.

As many as 4.7 million Americans served in the military during World War I. In that time 116,516 Americans died. Of these, 63,114 died from disease, overwhelmingly from the Spanish Influenza, while 53,402 were killed while fighting and 204,000 were wounded. 

It is tradition at the 11am hour on November 11th to recognize the armistice which ended that first world war. That time just happens to be around the time we finish taking communion at the 10:00am liturgy. So, this Sunday, having been nourished by the body and blood of our Lord, before we turn to the Postcommunion Prayer we will have a moment of silence in honor of all those who died in the cause of peace and then pray together a prayer to mark the 100th anniversary of this event. 

Please join as as we remember the peace that was found one hundred years ago this Sunday. And may you and I continue to strive for that peace in our world today. 

Through Grace,

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, November 11, 2018   https://mailchi.mp/00297493e740/ey7eu7o5mr-1419393

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, November 4, 2018

All Saints’, All Souls’, Legacy Society and more in the E-Newsletter for November 4, 2018  https://mailchi.mp/75e4eed95194/ey7eu7o5mr-1416409

From the Rector
The Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer, SCP
 

Dear *|FNAME|*,

For many Episcopalians, one of the most meaningful parts of the year is the Holy Triduum—those Great Three Days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigili of Easter. These days are the point upon which our salvation turns, taking us from death and failure to new life and the joy of God’s unconquerable love.

Each year in the fall, however, there is a smaller triduum. These three holy days also take us on a journey from death to life—but in a very different way than the Paschal Feast of Easter. This small triduum is known as Allhallowtide—the days that stretch from Halloween on October 31, to All Saints’ Day on November 1, to All Souls’ Day on November 2.

Last night (whether you knew it or not!) your celebrations began with Halloween—otherwise known as All Hallows' (or All Saints') Eve! Our celebrations then begin in earnest today, All Saints' Day, November 1, with the great Feast of the Church Triumphant—those great saints who lived exemplary lives and now exist fully in the presence of God. I look forward to celebrating with you at our Solemn Eucharist tonight at 6:00pm!

Tomorrow, November 2nd, our focus turns from the great saints of the church to All Faithful Departed—all those who have died in the love of God, who we still love and for whom we still pray. We'll gather at 6:00pm for the All Souls' Requiem Eucharist, remembering all those who have died—those whose names you have had the office list in the bulletin and those whose pictures sit atop our Día de los Muertos Altar in the All Souls' Chapel, the location of our new Columbarium.
          
This year’s Allhallowtide at St. John’s will also be particularly special because after the 10:00am liturgy on this coming Sunday, November 4, we will not only bless the new Columbarium (which, like much of the new All Souls' Chapel, was underwritten by a generous gift from Randy & Doreen Wegner). We will also bless the new Arbor that the family of Bob and Fran Cox has given to that beautiful space of our outdoors Memorial Garden. 

You are also invited on this Sunday to come to a special Faith Formation Hour at 11:30am. We will have guests from the Episcopal Church Foundation who will offer a presentation on end-of-life planning. It is never to early to do this work. Bethany and I are currently elbow deep in our own estate planning, wanting to be sure things are prepared for Lucy should the unexpected occur.

And on Monday, November 5, there is a special private dinner in a private room at Two Tony's in Spring Lake for members of the St. John’s Legacy Society, along with those interested in membership. There is no cost to attend the dinner, with those costs being borne by the Society. If you would like information on coming to the dinner, please click here to e-mail John Harberts who will add you to the guest list. Remember, members of the Legacy Society are able to reserve a niche in the Columbarium for only half of the costs—as they have already made a separate commitment to our parish endowments. 

May this Allhallowtide renew your own connection to those who have gone before—and may it further your own commitment to leave a legacy behind when you enter into the blessed arms of our God. 

Through Grace,

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, November 4, 2018   https://mailchi.mp/75e4eed95194/ey7eu7o5mr-1416409

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, October 28, 2018

From the Rector
The Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer, SCP
 

Dear *|FNAME|*,

"The future of The Episcopal Church gathers here."

"El futuro de la Iglesia Episcopal se reúne aquí." 

When I came back from Renewal Leave, I loved seeing these banners throughout our church, in the mini soft spaces that you all created so that there is a comfortable place for children in the various parts of our church.

The banners proclaim a bold truth, one that we have sought increasingly to live into over the past several years: our children and youth are indeed the future of our church. 

As we continue to search for the best ways to offer faith formation experiences to our families, we will try a new experiment starting this Thursday—our first ever Weekend VBS. And no matter your age, there are several ways you can be a part of this time of learning, growth, and formation. 

  • We'll start on Thursday night with family-friendly Movie Night, watching the acclaimed film Coco. Bring a snack or beverage to share along with $5 if you want pizza. Fellowship starts at 5:30pm and movie starts at 6:00pm. 
  • On Friday, there will be dinner for the kids at 6:00pm along with craft time decorating sugar skulls to place on our own Día de los Muertos Altar in the All Souls' Chapel. 
  • On Saturday, we will start at 10:00am with crafts, workshops, and lunch. There will also be face painting and even a special Halloween dance party. Kids are invited to come in their Halloween costumes!
  • On Sunday, the Sunday School will host the 11:30am Faith Formation Hour in the All Souls' Chapel as our Latino and Anglo members come together to decorate the 2018 Día de los Muertos Altar. Bring framed pictures of any loved ones you are remembering this year to place on the altar. There will also be a hymn sing during this time—thanks to everyone who turned in both their favorite English-language and Spanish-language hymns!
If you haven't yet signed your child up to participate, just click here to e-mail Reyna and let her know if your child will be coming to all the events or just some of them. And if you'd like to be an extra adult volunteer, e-mail Reyna to let her know! 
 
As we approach the Fall Triduum and the Feast of All Saints, I hope you'll find time to join our children as they help lead the way, reminding us all that in death life is changed not ended and that we are still united in Christ's love with all those who have gone before. 

Through Grace,

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, October 28, 2018   https://mailchi.mp/bdb880768e44/ey7eu7o5mr-1414369

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, October 21, 2018

SAVVY this Saturday, Family Movie Night, Legacy Society and more in the E-Newsletter for October 21, 2018  https://mailchi.mp/76968824446d/ey7eu7o5mr-1412329

From the Rector
The Rev. Dr. Jared C. Cramer, SCP
 

Dear *|FNAME|*,

One of the most important decisions that we can make in our life is what will happen after we die.

Few of us like very much thinking about our own death, even though we know that it is an inevitable part of life. At some point, our mortal body will go down to the dust while those around us make their Easter song in confidence of the resurrection, "Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia." 

As we approach Allhallowtide this year, those three holy days of All Hallows' Eve, All Saints' Day, and All Souls' Day, the time is ripe to ask whether or not we have prepared as we should for the time when we will leave our loved ones behind. 

  • Have you educated yourself about the end of life resources available in the State of Michigan?
  • Have you planned your funeral liturgy in advance? (This is one of the greatest gifts you can give to those you leave behind). 
  • Have you met with a lawyer and financial advisor to ensure that legal and financial questions are settled and transitions will go smoothly for those who will manage your affairs after you die? 
If you're like the average American, you probably cannot answer yes to all of those questions. The good news is that the Legacy Society of St. John's Episcopal Church is sponsoring several events at the beginning of November to help you make these plans. 

What's the Legacy Society, you might ask? The Legacy Society is a newly formed group, a collection of those parishioners who have made a commitment to include St. John's in their estate plans and have recorded information about that plan with the Parish Office. You can find out more about their ministry from their brochure online here.

On Sunday, November 4, the Legacy Society will be hosting Faith Formation Hour, bringing in Josh Anderson and Ken Quigley from the Episcopal Church Foundation to talk about the several aspects of end of life planning. It will be a great time to come, ask questions, and find out what you need to do to be prepared.

Then, on Monday, November 5, at 6:00pm, we will have our First Annual Legacy Society Members Dinner. The costs of the dinner are underwritten by the Society itself—there is no cost to attend. A meal will be shared, you will have an opportunity to learn more about the plans to further integrate the Legacy Society in the life of St. John's and we will also hear from Ken Quigley about the impact a Society like this can have on a congregation. 

The dinner is open to current members as well as any parishioner who is interested in becoming a member. However, we need to know how many to expect so please sign up at the Parish Information Table or click here for the Parish Office to sign you up.

Through Grace,

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, October 21, 2018   https://mailchi.mp/76968824446d/ey7eu7o5mr-1412329

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