E-Newsletter for Sunday, April 28, 2019

Spiritual Quest Survey; Invite, Welcome, Connect; Digital Team Help Needed and more in the E-Newsletter for April 28, 2019  https://mailchi.mp/89f0fc57c977/ey7eu7o5mr-1466161

From our Presiding Bishop
The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry
 

Dear *|FNAME|*,

The Rt. Reverend Barbara Harris was the first woman ordained and consecrated a bishop in The Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion.

In her memoir, entitled Hallelujah, Anyhow! [she] quotes an old Gospel hymn that says it this way:

Hallelujah anyhow
Never let your troubles get you down
When your troubles come your way
Hold your hands up high and say
Hallelujah anyhow!

When I get to Heaven, I want to meet one person, and her name is Mary Magdalene. Because if ever there was another Hallelujah, Anyhow sister, it was Mary Magdalene. And her life, and her example, tells us what it means to follow in the way of Jesus, in the Way of Love.

Mary Magdalene showed up when others would not. Mary Magdalene spoke up when others remained silent. Mary Magdalene stood up when others sat down.

John’s Gospel tells us that when many of the disciples fled and abandoned Jesus, Mary Magdalene stood by him at the cross. Hallelujah, Anyhow.

Against the odds, swimming against the current, Mary Magdalene was there.

John’s Gospel says in the 20th chapter, early in the morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene and some of the other women went to the tomb. Hallelujah, Anyhow.

They went to the tomb when it didn’t make any sense. They went to the tomb when the evidence was against them. Jesus was dead. They knew that. The power of the Empire had crushed the hope of love. They knew that. And they got up in the morning and went to the tomb anyhow. Hallelujah, Anyhow.

But more than that, John’s Gospel says it was dark. It was dark. That’s not just the time of day in John’s Gospel. The darkness in John is the domain of evil. In John’s Gospel when Judas leaves the Last Supper to betray Jesus, John inserts a parenthetical remark. When Judas leaves to betray him, John says, “And it was night.” The darkness is the domain of wrong, of hatred, of bigotry, of violence, the domain of sin and death and horror.

And early in the morning while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb, Hallelujah, Anyhow.

The truth is, she didn’t know that Jesus was alive. She was just doing what love does. Caring for her beloved, her Savior, her friend, in his time of death, to give him the last rites of burial. And when she got to the tomb, and the other women with them, they eventually discovered that Jesus was alive, and in the silence of the night, in the moments of despair, in the moments of the worst darkness, God had done something incredible. God had raised Jesus from the dead

The truth is, nobody saw Jesus rise from the dead, because God had done it secretly and quietly, when nobody was looking.

When I was in high school, I learned a poem composed by James Russell Lowell. He wrote it in the 19th century, in one of the darkest periods in American history, when this country was torn asunder by the existence of chattel slavery in our midst. In this great land of freedom, there were slaves being held in bondage. And this nation literally went to war, tearing itself apart, trying to find the way to do what was right. And James Russell Lowell wrote, in the midst of this darkness, in this dark hour:

Though the cause of evil prosper, yet ‘tis truth alone and strong . . . 

Though her portion be a scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown

Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own

Hallelujah, Anyhow.

Christ is risen
The Lord is risen, indeed.

God love you, God bless you, and may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.

 

Through Grace,

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop & Primate
The Episcopal Church

 
You can see the video of the Presiding Bishop's Easter Message online here.
 

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, April 28, 2019   https://mailchi.mp/89f0fc57c977/ey7eu7o5mr-1466161

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E-Newsletter for Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Triduum, The Great Three Days and more in the E-Newsletter for April 21, 2019  https://mailchi.mp/06fed419a258/ey7eu7o5mr-1464737

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

Dear *|FNAME|*,

Today begins what is known as the Triduum, the Great Three Days upon which the celebration of our salvation hinge.

Tonight, Maundy Thursday, April 18, we will gather for a traditional Mediterranean Meal at 6:00pm, sharing in food that would be similar to what Christ ate with his disciples that night. If you didn't have a chance to sign up, please do still feel welcome to attend. We always order a bit extra to ensure all can be welcome. Then, at 7:00pm tonight, we will have a Bilingual Eucharist, complete with the invitation to foot washing and the the stripping of the altar. The Blessed Sacrament will be brought to the Altar of Repose in the All Souls' Chapel, where we will keep watch overnight.

Tomorrow, at 8:30am on Good Friday, April 19, we will have a simple service of Morning Prayer & Communion, consuming the rest of the sacrament. After that point, the church is bereft of the sacrament entirely. At Noon, we will observe the solemn Liturgy of Good Friday. After that service, the church is open from 1pm-3pm for anyone to walk the Stations of the Cross as an individual devotion. At 3:00pm, I ring the bell thirty-three times to mark the death of Christ and then lock the doors of the church. The doors remain locked until the next morning…

The morning of Holy Saturday, April 20, at 10:00am, we open the locked church and gather to say the simple Holy Saturday liturgy. Following that, everyone is invited to join the Altar Guild in our Easter Preparations. Please note, this year we will not be having Easter Lilies—the truth is that they are a tremendously allergenic flower and some people are unable to attend church on Easter when they are present. So, instead, this year we will be using all hypo-allergenic flowers on a trial basis. That way, everyone can worship on Easter.

And this Easter will be especially joyous because at the 8:30pm Great Vigil of Easter we will be baptizing five young girls into the church, five girls who came to our parish through friends or the Canterbury Choir or our amazing Godly-Play Sunday School and have chosen to become a full part of the church. 

Our Festive Easter Sunday services will be at their normal times of 8:30am and 10:00am in English and 12:45pm in Spanish. 

Wherever you find yourself in this Holy Week, I hope that you find time to join in as many of these liturgies as possible. This year will be our eighth year celebrating Holy Week together and everyone involved in these liturgies truly does come together to create a powerful and meaningful experience. 

And no matter what services you are able to attend, may you be surrounded by Christ's love, which always overcomes the death and failure of our lives to bring new life. 
 

Through Grace,

PS ~ We are still very much in need of two or three more people to serve as Nursery Volunteers and take some of the load off of our current volunteers. If you could help watch the little children of our young families once every six or seven weeks, please contact Cindi in the Parish Office. The more volunteers we have, the easier the rotation is on everyone involved. Remember, the service is still streamed live downstairs to the nursery, so you don't have to miss out entirely on what's happening upstairs. And if parents bring their small kids up for Communion at the Peace, you are welcome to close the nursery early and come upstairs as well!

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, April 21, 2019   https://mailchi.mp/06fed419a258/ey7eu7o5mr-1464737

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E-Newsletter for Palm Sunday, April 14, 2019

Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, The Great Vigil and more in the E-Newsletter for April 14, 2019  https://mailchi.mp/9b1f3eb0e37e/ey7eu7o5mr-1462541

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

Dear *|FNAME|*,

This weekend, our Lenten Journey draws to a close with the arrival of Palm Sunday: The Sunday of the Passion. 

At the Thursday Noon Bible Study today, we spent some time talking about the inherent complexities in Palm Sunday. We begin the day shouting Hosannas, but within a few minutes, we are crying "Crucify Him!" with the angry crowds, demanding the death of the king we had just celebrated. We begin with waving branches as we join in a joyous procession and end with a crucified Lord and the awareness that we are complicit in this act.

At the moment when the liturgy turns, I take off my beautiful antique red cope and instead put on dark passiontide crimson vestments, a gift last year from John & Mary Harberts, in memory of Bob & Fran Cox. They are a lovely set, handmade with heavy brocade and silk. They echo the red Jerusalem Cross that Jane Freedberg embroidered on our Holy Week Array altar frontal. 

I feel the weight of those vestments when we begin the liturgy of the passion. And I'm reminded of the weight of my own passions—the times when my own desires or emotions got the better of me and led me wounding those I love with my words or actions. I'm reminded that every time I wound (or, perhaps just as bad, ignore) another human being I do this to Christ himself, who took all of humanity upon himself.

As we enter into this holy journey, there will be a special opportunity for you this Sunday evening. Our Director of Music, Nick Palmer, has put together an offering he is calling "Meditations on the Passion." Assisted by Becky Parks, Crystal Todd, and Alicia Hager, we will gather at 5:00pm for an opportunity to explore the Passion of Christ in music, poetry, and literature. I believe you will find it to be an experience that will enlarge your own understanding of the Passion of our Lord, one that will quicken your spirit and draw you closer to God in this holy time. Please join us. 

There are also numerous opportunities for worship during Holy Week. On Monday – Wednesday, there will be a noonday service of Holy Eucharist in the All Souls' Chapel, each day with a brief meditation. On Maundy Thursday, April 18, we will gather for a traditional Mediterranean Meal at 6:00pm, sharing in food that would be similar to what Christ ate with his disciples that night. Then, at 7:00pm, we will have a Bilingual Eucharist, complete with the stripping of the altar. The Blessed Sacrament will be brought to the Altar of Repose in the All Souls' Chapel, where we will keep watch overnight. Then, at 8:30am on Good Friday, April 19, we will have a simple service of Morning Prayer & Communion, consuming the rest of the sacrament. After that point, the church is bereft of the sacrament entirely. At Noon, we will observe the solemn Liturgy of Good Friday in English and at 7:00pm we will observe that liturgy in Spanish.

The morning of Holy Saturday, April 20, at 10:00am, we will say the simple Holy Saturday liturgy and then everyone is invited to join the Altar Guild in our Easter Preparations. This Easter will be especially joyous because at the 8:30pm Great Vigil of Easter we will be baptizing five young girls into the church, five girls who came to our parish through friends or the Canterbury Choir or our amazing Godly-Play Sunday School and have chosen to become a full part of the church. 

After that it is Easter Sunday and fifty days of celebration…

This entire journey begins this Sunday. I look forward to seeing you there, as we seek to walk the road Christ trod, a road that leads to suffering, to giving up ourselves for others, but that also finds resurrection and new life.
 

Through Grace,

PS ~ We are still very much in need of two or three more people to serve as Nursery Volunteers and take some of the load off of our current volunteers. If you could help watch the little children of our young families once six or seven weeks, please contact Cindi in the Parish Office. The more volunteers we have, the easier the rotation is on everyone involved. Remember, the service is still streamed live downstairs to the nursery, so you don't have to miss out entirely on what's happening upstairs. And if parents bring their small kids up for Communion at the Peace, you are welcome to close the nursery early and come upstairs as well!

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, April 14, 2019   https://mailchi.mp/9b1f3eb0e37e/ey7eu7o5mr-1462541

Not subscribed to our Weekly E-Newsletter? You can do that here: http://eepurl.com/n0r8P

E-Newsletter for Sunday, April 7, 2019

Last Call for Easter Flowers, Roomful of Episcopalians, Calling All Book Lovers and more in the E-Newsletter for April 7, 2019  https://mailchi.mp/9e46d84005ac/ey7eu7o5mr-1460149

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

Dear *|FNAME|*,

The church is not a democracy. 

This was one of the several principles we discussed at the Worship Gathering on Monday, where we considered whether or not to continue using the expansive-language trial use versions of our prayer book liturgies. The church is not a democracy—but, to be clear, neither is it a dictatorship. So, people on the various sides of this question who wanted me to do what they wanted done, to make a decision by fiat, were going to be disappointed.

Instead, the church is a spiritual community, it is the gathered-together body of Christ in a particular locale. Each of us within this community have various roles and callings. As St. Paul says in First Corinthians 12, "Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of languages." 

The role of the rector is two-fold. I am, first and foremost a priest who, according to our catechism, is ordained "to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as pastor to the people; to share with the bishop in the overseeing of the Church; to proclaim the Gospel; to administer the sacraments; and to bless and declare pardon in the name of God."

In my role of oversight of the church, I try to be attentive to Paul's teachings. In the chapter before the one I cited above from Corinthians, he actually speaks directly to the question of our worship, writing, "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord." He goes on, warning us, "For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgement against themselves."

"Discerning the body" is a multivalent phrase, referring in some ways to Christ's bodily presence in the sacrament, but also to the body of Christ as the corporate community gathered for worship. After all, that's what Paul is talking about in First Corinthians—a community who is dividing itself into various factions when they approach worship, instead of discerning how each of them is a part of the body of Christ. 

So, when the Worship Gathering got together on Monday to review the survey results from our use of the expansive-language liturgies, I tried first and foremost to remind us that we are not a democracy where a simple majority vote always results in the right thing done. Rather, as the body of Christ gathered in this place, we have to "discern the body."

St. Paul also teaches in that same part of First Corinthians that no part of the Body of Christ can say to another member, "I have no need of you." Instead, he says, "On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable." Further, "If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it."

The Worship Gathering considered this theological truth. Even though only 10% of our community strongly preferred we return to the language of the prayer book, we cannot just write off that 10%. Rather, we have to be attentive to that part of our body. And, in the same way, those who strongly wanted us to return to the language of the prayer book have to be attentive to other members, who found the more expansive language liturgies a gift in their worship.

There are no easy answers to these sorts of questions.

But after prayer and conversation, after listening to people with a wide variety of views, the Gathering decided that we will return to the language of the prayer book. One of the most fundamental reasons was not only our desire to be attentive to those who deeply desired this return, but also because we know that the process of prayer book revision is a very long one.

The liturgy we have been using is by no means a final liturgy. It is just a draft being "tried out." After getting feedback from the church, it will likely be edited and then a new form sent out for another trial use by the next General Convention. And again and again until a final form shows up in a revised prayer book sometime in the future.

Rather than have our liturgy changing constantly, meaning we are always having to trip over new words and phrases, we decided we want to remain as a parish that is grounded in the prayer book. When a trial use version is put out again, we will try that liturgy as well for a period of time so that we can report back our experience to the larger church. 

Everyone agreed we had a sufficient experience with this trial use draft to give our feedback at this point. Once that mechanism is published, I will share it with you all. 

I know some of you may be thrilled by this decision and, likewise, some of you may be frustrated. I would encourage you, no matter what, to strive to "discern the body" and be attentive to your fellow sisters and brothers.

Because it is our loving care of each other that makes manifest the Body of Christ in our world. And that is the job of every one of us.
 

Through Grace,

PS ~ We are still very much in need of two or three more people to serve as Nursery Volunteers and take some of the load off of our current volunteers. If you could help watch the little children of our young families once six or seven weeks, please contact Cindi in the Parish Office. The more volunteers we have, the easier the rotation is on everyone involved. Remember, the service is still streamed live downstairs to the nursery, so you don't have to miss out entirely on what's happening upstairs. And if parents bring their small kids up for Communion at the Peace, you are welcome to close the nursery early and come upstairs as well!

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, April 7, 2019   https://mailchi.mp/9e46d84005ac/ey7eu7o5mr-1460149

Not subscribed to our Weekly E-Newsletter? You can do that here: http://eepurl.com/n0r8P

E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 31, 2019

Bread Bakers, Family Night, Easter Flowers and more in the E-Newsletter for March 31, 2019  https://mailchi.mp/b3ebb8ce6500/ey7eu7o5mr-1458177

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

Dear *|FNAME|*,

Many years ago, when I first came to St. John's, the community was wrestling with the question of what kind of bread to use in communion.

Some like wafers. Some liked regular bread. Various approaches had been tried but none of them had left anyone truly happy. When I first got here, I moved us back to regular wafers so we could have some time and space to make a more permanent decision on this question. 

After some time, we had what became our first Worship Gathering. That is, we gathered everyone interested together in one room and we talked to each other. At the beginning of the Gathering, the group was pretty split between the question of bread versus wafers.

First, I did a small teaching on the history of the bread used in communion. I talked about how leavened bread is the more ancient practice, with unleavened bread being a Roman innovation that began in the 7th century (see more here). In Anglicanism, the reintroduction of leavened bread was a part of the English reformation and it was the Ritualists of the 19th century who helped swing the pendulum back to unleavened wafers (see more here). I also talked about the importance of whichever bread is used being one that is practical. That is, the bread should be able to be procured or made easily and should not cause a mess or significantly more work for the altar guild. 

We then did a taste test, trying all the different types of bread which could possibly be used. We talked about what we thought of each one and how its use might impact our celebration of Holy Communion. Finally, at the end, the Gathering decided unanimously to start using home-made leavened bread, using a recipe from St. Gregory' Abbey and to supplement it with gluten-free wafers which would always be available to those with a gluten intolerance (or who simply preferred a wafer).

We have a rotation of four people who make the communion bread, dropping it off at the church on Saturday evening or early Sunday morning, before the 8:30am liturgy. The bread is good from Saturday through Wednesday, where it is also used at our Noon service of Holy Eucharist & Healing. Any liturgies which fall on Thursday or Friday always have a fresh batch of bread made for them.

Our Communion Bread bakers are looking for two or three people who might be interested in joining their ranks. You'll make the bread about once every month or month and a half, depending on the amount of participants. It's a wonderful way to give to the broader community and there are few things more meaningful than seeing bread you have made in your home transformed by the community into the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Take a moment to look at our recipe card and if you'd be interested in learning more about joining this ministry, reach out to Cindi who can put you in touch with a bread baker to walk you through making your first batch!

As we look to the next Worship Gathering, scheduled for Monday, April 1, at 6:00pm, we'll spend a part of our time together exploring the question of whether or not to continue using the trial use "Expansive Language" versions of the prayer book liturgies at SJE. If you have not yet done so, please take a moment to fill out this short survey online here so we can know your thoughts. 

And please join us on April 1, if you are able, for some conversation surrounding this question and anything else that may come up regarding our worship life as a congregation. I often don't know what the outcome of these conversations will be—but what we come up with as a community, talking to one another, is always immensely better than what I could come up with on my own!
 

Through Grace,

PS ~ Don't forget the spring is a great time to consider joining with others in supporting the beautiful campus we have as a congregation. You can click here to download the brochure with more information for purchasing a brick for the pathway in the St. Francis Garden, which you can then have inscribed in memory or in honor of someone. Small bricks are $100 and large bricks are $500. You can also click here to simply make a gift of any amount to the Landscaping Endowment.

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 31, 2019   https://mailchi.mp/b3ebb8ce6500/ey7eu7o5mr-1458177

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 24, 2019

Movie Group Tonight, The Annunciation, Taizé Evening Prayer and more in the E-Newsletter for March 24, 2019  https://mailchi.mp/82e25ac3e43f/ey7eu7o5mr-1457525

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

Dear *|FNAME|*,

I hate to jinx it, but I think that spring is beginning to… well… spring. Finally.

The sun is shining, the grass seems to be just beginning to come back to life, and seeds and bulbs are all beginning to awaken from their long winter sleep. Pretty soon, we'll be seeing the new life of spring in the St. Francis Prayer & Meditation Garden.

If you don't know the story behind this garden, it was a legacy gift from Dick Swain, a long-time parishioner who had a deep love for this congregation and for the natural beauty of God's creation. Dick wanted to make a legacy gift to the parish—but he also wanted to see the fruits of it while he was still alive.

He spent more than a year working with Grand Haven Garden House (GHGH) in designing the St. Francis Garden. Once it got close to conceptualization, he then entered into conversations with the Property Commission and the Vestry. Finally, when all was designed and settled, the amazing staff at GHGH put shovels in the dirt and set to work transforming what had been a vacant grassy lot to the beautiful garden we all love today. The finishing touch on the garden was a brick pathway that runs through it, an anonymous gift from a family at this parish who found themselves inspired by Dick's generosity.

One of Dick's goals with the pathway is that it would help raise money for a new Landscaping Endowment, so that the landscaping and grounds of our parish could always be professionally maintained no matter the budget struggles that came or went. In the now nearly seven years since this garden was installed, that endowment has grown through the purchase of bricks in the pathway and other outright gifts. It is now valued at nearly $40K, producing an annual distribution that is enough to cover roughly a quarter of our landscaping costs. 

With the garden coming to life again, it's a great opportunity to consider joining with Dick's legacy in supporting the beautiful campus we have as a congregation. You can click here to download the brochure for purchasing a brick which you can have inscribed in memory or in honor of someone. Small bricks are $100 and large bricks are $500. You can also click here to simply make a gift of any amount to the Landscaping Endowment.

I hope you'll have a chance in the days and weeks ahead to walk through this lovely space. Remember people like Dick, now passed into the nearer presence of God, and others like him who have sought to cultivate this peaceful place of rest and refreshment at the top of the hill in Grand Haven. 

I still miss him on a regular basis. And I'm grateful for the example he gave me of what it means to give of yourself to a community and a place.  
 

Through Grace,

PS~ Don't forget this Sunday is the last day to be a part of our children's underwear and socks drive to help kids who visit a clothing pantry in Muskegon. You can place them in the designated bin in the coat room. Or, if you would prefer, you can also make an online gift to my discretionary account. All gifts made to that account between now and Sunday, March 24, will be used to purchase children's underwear and socks for this drive. 

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 17, 2019   https://mailchi.mp/82e25ac3e43f/ey7eu7o5mr-1457525

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 17, 2019

Socks & Underwear for Needy Kids, MESSIAH Concert Patrons, Byzantine Iconography, and more in the E-Newsletter for March 17, 2019  https://mailchi.mp/2701ad0594d6/ey7eu7o5mr-1454117

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

Dear *|FNAME|*,

The Season of Lent is a season of forty days of penitence, prayer, and preparation for the feast of Easter. These days are traditionally observed with three core practices: fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. 

Fasting is what most of us think of when we think of Lent. It can take many forms. For some people it is giving up some food or drink that is a normal part of your routine. For others, it is abstaining from meat on Fridays. If you choose to practice a traditional fast, you would eat one normal meal each day as well as two smaller meals that, together, are not as much as a full meal. However you practice fasting, the discipline reminds us of our Lord's words that we do not live by bread alone, but that we are actually sustained by our loving God.

There are many ways to incorporate prayer more deeply into your life. Our Lenten Series on Sundays at 11:30am and Tuesdays at 6:30pm uses various prayer practices to explore several of the Followers of Jesus. On Wednesdays at 6:00pm, the St. Cecilia Choir is offering a contemplative service of Evening Prayers in the style of Taizé. And the most traditional prayer practice in our tradition is that of the Daily Office—prayers said in the morning and in the evening. (There is a website that will put all the proper prayers and readings in for you—and there's even an app for your smartphone!)

Almsgiving can be as simple as being more intentional about giving to the poor. However, at St. John's this year, we have a special opportunity for alms giving. As our parish Nominee to the Sacred Order of Priests, Alicia Hager, tells us…

A new friend of mine at work also volunteers in a clothing pantry run by her church, Grace Reformed, in Muskegon. Margo shared with me how children's clothes, particularly new underwear and socks, are incredibly difficult to come by. She shared a story about a little girl telling her that she has three pairs of underpants, because she just has to turn them inside out to get another day of wear from them. I think most of us would agree that clean under clothes are a very basic necessity. Beginning on Sunday, March 3 parishioners are invited to bring in packages of underwear and socks in varying sizes for boys and girls.  A collection basket will be available in the coat room for donations until Sunday, March 24, at which time I will deliver our donations to Margo for the clothing pantry. Margo let me know that they never charge for the clothes they supply, and that every week brings the new challenge of immigrants who have nothing (no coat, no suitable pants or sweaters) coming to her for aid. Your donations are so appreciated. You can supply a child the dignity of clean underwear and the warmth of socks as our Michigan winter drags toward Spring. Thank you for your generosity.

As you continue to walk these forty days of Lent, I'd invite you to consider helping with this children's underwear and socks drive by bringing some to donate and placing them in the designated bin in the coat room. If you would prefer, you can also make an online gift to my discretionary account. All gifts made to that account between now and Sunday, March 24, will be used to purchase children's underwear and socks for this drive. 
 

Through Grace,

 

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 17, 2019   https://mailchi.mp/2701ad0594d6/ey7eu7o5mr-1454117

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 10, 2019

Holy Land Carvings, Lenten Opportunities, Loving Spoonfuls Totes, and more in the E-Newsletter for March 10, 2019  https://mailchi.mp/34c1e50b3c69/ey7eu7o5mr-1451901

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

Dear *|FNAME|*,

As many of you know, the Holy Land is an important place in my own spiritual journey.

One of my greatest joys early in my years at St. John's was leading a pilgrimage group from the parish to Israel and Jordan, walking the many holy sites there with some of you! It was not the first time I had gone. I've been blessed to have been able to attend several times in previous years.

So I was truly delighted when Bithan Abufarha came by the parish office a few weeks ago. She and her husband work with Holy Land Carvings, a company that represents the Palestinian Christian wood-carvers in the Holy Land. The violence in the Holy Land over the past several years, along with the actions of the State of Israel (often supported by our own country) has nearly decimated the Christian population. The Anglican bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem has even seen his own visa revoked in recent years and had to file court action to be able to reside in the city of his cathedral (see more online here).

Thousands of families in the Holy Land are no longer able to find work and for Christian wood-carvers, their trade in olive-wood religious items has been significantly impacted. 

So, this Sunday, Bithan and others from Holy Land carvings will be set up in the Timberlake Hall to sell hand-carved nativity scenes, crucifixes, rosaries, statues, pictures of the last supper, and many other items. They will set-up and be available after 8:30am liturgy, both before and after the 10:00am liturgy, and before the 12:45pm Spanish-language service as well. 

I hope you'll have some time on Sunday to look through the items they will be bringing. Not only will you likely find something that can be a part of your own household devotions, but you'll be able to support your sister and brother Christians struggling to survive in the Holy Land.

Through Grace,

 

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 10, 2019   https://mailchi.mp/34c1e50b3c69/ey7eu7o5mr-1451901

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 3, 2019

Loving Spoonfuls Grocery Totes, Opportunities in Lent, SJE Cares and more in the E-Newsletter for March 3, 2019  https://mailchi.mp/b82108afe5a8/ey7eu7o5mr-1451437

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

Dear *|FNAME|*,

As the Season of Lent approaches next week, plans have been laid by a variety of opportunities for you to engage in this Holy Season. I'd encourage you, if you have not yet done so, to click here to download the 2019 Lenten Bookmark. You can also get a copy of it at the Parish Information Table. 

Next Tuesday, March 5, is Shrove Tuesday, also known as Fat Tuesday, Mardis Gras (which is just Fat Tuesday in French), or Carnival (the putting away of meat in Spanish). At SJE we will have our Annual Pancake Supper at 6pm, but it will be extra special this year. Our SJE Youth Group will be cooking the pancakes in competition style—so you'll get to vote for who made the best pancakes! We'll also have Karaoke entertainment. 

Lent then begins with Ash Wednesday on March 6. I'll be out on the streets doing Ashes to Go from 8:00am-10:00am and again from 3:30pm-5:30pm. If you'd like to help me at either of those times, please let me know. During the day, our Eucharistic Visitors and I will also be bringing ashes to people on our Pastoral Care list. The services here at the church will be in English at Noon and Bilingual at 6:00pm. 

During the Season of Lent, you will then have several opportunities for worship and formation:

  • Our regular Thursday Noon Bible Study will be a time of conversation and study on the Scripture readings for the upcoming Sunday. 
  • We are offering a Lenten Formation Series on Sundays at 11:30am and again on Tuesdays at 6:30pm (you can pick whichever is more convenient for you to attend), looking at the Followers of Jesus and engaging in their stories through various prayer practices. The series will be led by our three aspirants to the priesthood. Find out more online here.
  • Also, each Wednesday evening at 6:00pm we will be offering Contemplative Evening Prayers in the Style of Taizé, led by the St. Cecilia Choir. This style of worship comes from the ecumenical community in Taizé, France, and features the beautiful reputations of Taizé music and ample time for reflection and prayer. 
And, of course, if at any point in your Lenten journey, you are wanting to unburden yourself through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I'll be available in the All Souls' Chapel on Wednesdays at 11:30am for private confession. You can also contact me to make an appointment for doing that rite at another time. 

And mark your calendars for the First Sunday in Lent, March 10, as the Sunday School holds their Annual Lent Workshop at 11:30am. This year we will be making “Family At The Foot of the Cross” décor to bring into our homes to keep Our Lord in the minds and hearts of all who enter our homes. You will also have the option of doing the Easter Garden as we have in the past if you so choose. The cost is only $15 and all proceeds will go to fund our Sunday School Ministry.  If cost is an issue please don’t hesitate to talk to our children and youth coordinator, Reyna Masko. We do not want that stopping you from participating. Please sign up at the Parish Information Table to let us know you'll be participating. 

Lent is one of the holiest times of the church year, a wonderful time to open yourself more fully to the presence of God in your life. I hope you'll find ways to move deeper in this season. 

Through Grace,

PS~ Don't forget, these are the final days for you to make a gift to the Sabbatical Purse for our Parish Administrator, Cindi Sanders. Gifts can be made online through Realm, or through a check made out to St. John's. Either way, just please write "Parish Admin Sabbatical" in the memo line to ensure it goes to the right place. We are asking for gifts to be turned in no later than Ash Wednesday, March 6, so that Cindi will know how much we are giving her and have time to prepare accordingly. 

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, March 3, 2019   https://mailchi.mp/b82108afe5a8/ey7eu7o5mr-1451437

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E-Newsletter for Sunday, February 10, 2019

SAVVY This Saturday, Parish Mission Survey Online, Sign up for the Bishop’s Workshops, and more in the E-Newsletter for February 10, 2019  https://mailchi.mp/b2b774ee5127/ey7eu7o5mr-1443309

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

Dear *|FNAME|*,

One of the true forces that makes St. John's the congregation we are is our Parish Administrator, Cindi Sanders. 

Cindi and Dave have been a part of St. John's since 1989. In the spring of 1996—twenty-three years ago—Cindi began her service as Parish Secretary and then Parish Administrator. Before that, she had also served as Church School Director and Youth Group Co-Leader. 

During these past twenty-three years Cindi has served three different priests with faithfulness, joy, and a never-ending commitment to the good of St. John's. One of the first things my predecessor, Fr. Henry Idema, and the Interim Priest who served after him, Fr. John Laycock, both told me was how blessed our congregation was to have Cindi in the office. 

The provision of sabbatical for clergy and also for full-time lay professionals is an increasing part of the life of the church, recognizing that those who give themselves full-time to parish ministry—whether lay or ordained—need time away to refresh. Congregational structures also need a break, so that churches can continue to think creatively about who they are and not rely unduly upon one person. Many dioceses are even making sabbatical provisions for both clergy and lay professionals a part of their own official policies.

After twenty-three years in this role, Cindi absolutely has earned some time to step back and be renewed and refreshed. I know you share with me in wishing her all the best for this time. 

As we head to her Sabbatical beginning in May, there are two ways you can help:

  • First, you can give to this Sabbatical Purse that the Vestry is pulling together. Gifts can be made online through Realm, or through a check made out to St. John's. Either way, just please write "Parish Admin Sabbatical" in the memo line to ensure it goes to the right place. We are asking for gifts to be turned in no later than Ash Wednesday, March 6, so that Cindi will know how much we are giving her and have time to prepare accordingly. If you’d rather Cindi not see your gift (since she is the one who opens the mail!), you can address the envelope to the bookkeeper, Sarah Witte, or you can give it in a sealed envelope to me, and I will then put it in the safe for the bookkeeper to open.
  • Second, you can sign up at the Parish Information Table to help as a Volunteer Receptionist during the week. You can take a two or a four hour shift, between Monday and Thursday, to help pick up administrative tasks and also welcome people who come to the office. (You can find out more at the sign-up sheet online here and even e-mail Fr. Jared if you'd like him to sign you up.)
I believe this time will indeed be one of much-needed renewal for Cindi. And I think it will also be a good time for us, as a congregation, to discover new gifts and resources for ministry so that when Cindi returns, she can return as well to a congregation that she knows will always support her in her ministry.

Through Grace,

Read more in the E-Newsletter for Sunday, February 10, 2019   https://mailchi.mp/b2b774ee5127/ey7eu7o5mr-1443309

Not subscribed to our Weekly E-Newsletter? You can do that here: http://eepurl.com/n0r8P