E-Newsletter for Sunday, June 18

Benediction Service Tonight, Capital Campaign Kick-off Party, and More in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, June 18    http://mailchi.mp/9d2b664fd83d/ey7eu7o5mr-1239973

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

Dear *|FNAME|*,

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament isn't really an official liturgy of the church. It's not in any prayer book or collection of occasional services. There really isn't even one definite form in which it occurs.  Rather, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is a devotional exercise, one that arose in the middle ages as a way to draw our focus to the presence of Christ in the blessed sacrament. 

One of the holiest moments of each celebration of Eucharist is the fraction. This is after the sacrament is consecrated and the priest breaks the bread. The rubrics require that a period of silence be kept (a rubric that is unfortunately ignored in many places). The priest then proclaims, "Alleluia, Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us," and the people respond, "Therefore, let us keep the feast, alleluia." 

Benediction takes that moment of silence, that moment of reverence after Christ has become present to us once more in the sacrament, and draws it out. It invites us to a time of reflection before the sacrament, a time to rest in the presence of Christ. Then, we receive Christ's blessing as the priest makes the sign of the cross with the sacrament, concluding the time of devotion.

This devotion was done away with in the middle ages because of abuses in sacramental practice. It had begun to be used as a substitute for receiving the sacrament. People believed they were unworthy to consume Christ's body and blood and so simply knelt in reverence before it instead. 

Thankfully, we live in a time where people know that we receive the sacrament precisely because we are not worthy, because we need the grace of the sacrament. What we need in our modern time is more space for reflection, for adoration, for resting in the presence of God in contemplative prayer before we consume the sacrament. Anglican theologian John Macquarrie writes beautifully about the importance of this practice today. 

That's actually how Benediction is offered at St. John's. We finish our time of benediction with all the worshippers gathering together and consuming the bread. After resting in the presence of Christ, we consume the sacrament, seeking to be strengthened by God's grace so that we might become the presence of Christ in the world with even more faithfulness.

I hope you will join us tonight at 6:00pm for our once-a-year offering of this devotion. There will not be 5:15pm Evening Prayer. Instead, we will gather in the chancel area at 6:00pm and sing Evening Prayer together before we move into the Benediction liturgy. Our Director of Music, Nick Palmer, has prepared some lovely music for us. The incense, only rarely used at St. John's, will come out to heighten our devotion. And, most importantly, all of us will be invited to a time of stillness.

Join us tonight, if you are able. Take a moment in our busy world to rest in the presence of Christ… and to listen for what Christ has to say to you. 

Through Grace,

PS~ If you have an hour or two this Sunday, we could still use a few more hands at the Habitat for Humanity UNITY build. Workers will be at 1317 Columbus in Grand Haven from around 8am-4pm. No experience needed—just bring some work gloves and a willingness to help provide a home for a family!

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, June 18  http://mailchi.mp/9d2b664fd83d/ey7eu7o5mr-1239973

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, June 11

Trinity Sunday, Parish Council Meeting, Unity Build, and More in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, June 11    http://mailchi.mp/cf9e66222639/ey7eu7o5mr-1238217

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

Dear *|FNAME|*,

When I first started at St. John's, our parish office would get specific regular phone calls that were a wrong number. People would call us looking for Habitat for Humanity.

You may not know this, but Habitat for Humanity in the Tri-Cities actually started here at St. John's. A commitment to affordable housing has long been a part of this congregation's mission. 

Habitat is its own independent organization now, one that thrives in the Tri-Cities doing a lot of important work. However, this summer, they need our help.

Each summer Habitat leads a "Unity Build," where members from all local congregations join together to help build a house for someone, each church taking a different Saturday. We will be helping with the Unity Build on Saturday, June 17. The build site this year is 1317 Columbus in Grand Haven.

We are looking for people who are willing to get together and help in this important ministry. There is a sign-up sheet on the Parish Information Table, enabling you to sign up for just an hour or for the whole build time from 8am-4pm.

You don't have to have building experience—just a willingness to help out and be directed! Dress in work clothes and bring work gloves and a packed lunch if you want to eat at the site. Next Wednesday we'll send a short orientation video to everyone who signs up to help.

This is a great opportunity for us to work with other Christians in the area and help provide a home for someone in need. If you are free on the 17th, I hope you'll sign up to help. You can also click here and the Parish Office will sign you up right away!

Through Grace,

PS~ Don't forget that as we celebrate Trinity Sunday this week, we will have the one Sunday Eucharist every year that has incense at the 10am liturgy and the 11:45pm Spanish liturgy. The 8:30am service will be "smoke-free" and feature Holy Eucharist with Harpsichord! 

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, June 11  http://mailchi.mp/cf9e66222639/ey7eu7o5mr-1238217

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, June 4

Wear Red for Pentecost, Summer Book Group, Mission Trip to Pine Ridge, and More in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, June 4    http://mailchi.mp/386704622944/ey7eu7o5mr-1233561

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

Dear *|FNAME|*,

Are you ready for the Holy Spirit!?

Each year the church program year comes to a thundering and stirring close as we celebrate the Fiftieth Day of Easter, the Great Feast of Pentecost.

The other name given for this feast day in the prayer book is "Whitsunday." No one really knows for sure where that name comes from. "Whit" seems likely to be a a contraction of the Old English word for white. Some believe that it refers to the white garments worn by those who would be baptized on Pentecost or perhaps to an old English custom of wearing white vestments instead of the more common red. 

No matter what you call it, Pentecost Sunday is one of the most important Sundays of the church year. One of the seven principle feasts, on this day we not only commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Fiftieth Day after Christ's resurrection, but we also mark the birthday of the church. It was on the first Pentecost that over two thousand were baptized, becoming the first Christians. 

At St. John's this Sunday, there are several great opportunities to celebrate. At both services, in lieu of the Nicene Creed we will renew our baptismal vows. At the 10:00am service, our Spanish-speaking members will join us for a bilingual Eucharist. In both languages, we will celebrate a Holy Spirit who brings diverse cultures together in one church. We will also recognize those members of our parish who were received or confirmed by the bishop at the Great Vigil of Easter this year. You are invited to wear red to celebrate the day. 

After this Sunday, the life of the church begins to slow down some for the summer months—but keep your eye out for several great opportunities (you can read more about many of them in this month's Parish Page). 

I hope your Pentecost celebrations are filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit in your life and in our church. May each of us on this holy day be inspired to recommit to our baptism and to follow Christ more faithfully, going out into the world and rejoicing in the power of the Spirit!

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Through Grace,

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, June 4  http://mailchi.mp/386704622944/ey7eu7o5mr-1233561

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, May 28

Ascension Day Service Tonight, Community Memorial Day Service on Sunday, and More in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, May 28    http://mailchi.mp/401825f0c5e0/ey7eu7o5mr-1231413

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

Dear *|FNAME|*,

One of the markers of summer's arrival each year is Memorial Day weekend. It's a three-day weekend marked by rising temperatures, often a parade, and great sales on appliances. 

But, as you likely know, this weekend is about so much more.

The observance of Memorial Day began after the Civil War, when people in the north began decorating the graves of those union soldiers who died. Throughout the years there were competing celebrations in the north and south, with different days and traditions for honoring union and confederate dead. In the 20th century, those traditions merged and became our modern Memorial Day.

At the heart of this weekend is honoring those who have died in military service. This should not be confused with Veterans' day, when we honor all who have served. On this weekend we honor those who gave all they had in pursuit of peace and justice in the world through military service. 

And this weekend, we have a special opportunity to celebrate this day. St. John's will be the site of the community Memorial Day worship service this Sunday evening, at 6:00pm. We will be honoring this day in our traditional Anglican fashion, with a requiem Eucharist. That is, we will celebrate Eucharist but include with it special prayers for those who have died. 

I hope you'll join us. Our Director of Music, Nick Palmer, has written a new piece of choral music for the day. That piece will be offered by the St. Cecilia Choir, under the direction of our Organist Emeritus, John G. Bryson. There will be prayers for those who died in military service, prayers for peace in the world, and a procession of flags and veterans for whom this day is always particularly memorable. 

As our prayers this Sunday ascend before God, may our Lord grant rest eternal to those who so bravely ventured much in the cause of liberty. And may we be humbled and inspired to work more fervently for peace and justice in our world.

Through Grace,

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, May 28  http://mailchi.mp/401825f0c5e0/ey7eu7o5mr-1231413

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, May 21

Call to Fast this Sunday, Upcoming PRIDE Concert and More in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, May 21    http://mailchi.mp/914f9668b96d/ey7eu7o5mr-1226773

<From the Presiding Bishops
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate, the Episcopal Church
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Dear *|FNAME|*,

We are coming together as leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Episcopal Church to oppose deep cuts to programs that are vital to hungry people struggling with poverty. We make this call in anticipation of the May 21 Global Day of Prayer to End Famine. We highlight the importance of foreign assistance and humanitarian relief as members of the World Council of Churches.

We also make a call to pray, fast, and advocate not just on this Sunday, May 21, but throughout the 115th Congress. At the invitation of Bread for the World, we join with ecumenical partners and pledge to lead our congregations and ministries in fasting, prayer and advocacy, recognizing the need to engage our hearts, bodies, and communities together to combat poverty. As the call to prayer articulates,

“We fast to fortify our advocacy in solidarity with families who are struggling with hunger. We fast to be in solidarity with neighbors who suffer famine, who have been displaced, and who are vulnerable to conflict and climate change. We fast with immigrants who are trying to make a better future for their families and now face the risk of deportation. We fast in solidarity with families on SNAP, who often run out of food by the last week of the month.”

Domestically, Americans throughout the country are struggling with poverty, and many government-funded programs allow them to care for and feed their families. As we look overseas, we must acknowledge that foreign assistance and humanitarian relief can help to address regions confronting famine and food insecurity, including South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Lake Chad Basin. We will challenge proposals to eliminate or defund proven anti-poverty programs, at home and abroad.

The story of Esther provides encouragement for our fasting, prayer and advocacy. Esther, a Jew, was the wife of the Persian king. When plans were made to slaughter all the Jews in the empire, Esther’s cousin Mordechai pleaded with her to go to the king and use her voice to advocate for them, even though this might place her life in danger. He urged her not to remain silent, as she may have been sent “for such a time as this.” Esther asked people to fast and pray with her for three days to fortify her advocacy before the king, resulting in saving the lives of her people.

God’s intention is the flourishing of all people and we are called to participate in God’s loving purpose by standing with our neighbor who struggle with poverty and hunger. Following the Circle of Protection ecumenical fast in 2011 to fortify the faith community in opposing cuts to vital anti-poverty programs, we may have also been prepared “for such a time as this”. We commit ourselves to and invite our members to one day of fasting every month to undergird our efforts to convince our members of Congress to protect poverty-focused programs.

You can view a video of the Presiding Bishop's video message about this call to action online here:

 

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, May 21  http://mailchi.mp/914f9668b96d/ey7eu7o5mr-1226773

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