Issue No.88 St. John the Apostle Anglican Church, Port Moody, B.C. June 2008
A word from Don Grayston
“In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy …”
Joel 2:28, quoted in Acts 2:17
So: our revels now are ended, as Shakespeare says. That means that this sermon is my last will and testament at St John’s. It’s been a good run for me, and I hope it has for you, recognizing, of course, that you can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time—thank you, Abraham Lincoln, for that acute insight.
Farewell Words from Don Grayston 1
Upcoming Events 3
Sandy Smith 4
Book Donations 5
Helping Hands 6
Food Bank 7
But even if you can’t please all of the people all of the time, God is good all of the time. Last Christmas I took some friends with no church experience whatever to a carol service at the cathedral. Peter Elliott, the dean, opened the service, which featured black gospel music, with an exchange that he had picked up from a visit to a black church in the US. In that exchange, the preacher says, “God is good!” and the people reply, “All the time!” Then the preacher says, “All the time?” and the people reply, “God is good” But then, he went on to say, that doesn’t mean that life is fair all the time. Life can be fair or unfair, happy or tragic; but even when life is unfair or tragic; God is good, all the time. As I mentioned, this sermon is my last will and testament here; and so that’s my first bequest to you today. God is good all the time.
But today is Pentecost, the feast of the Holy Spirit, the birthday of the church; so I also need to say something about the Holy Spirit. One of the most memorable things I ever heard about the Holy Spirit, perhaps 40 years ago, goes like this. When we say “God the Father”—and now in some contexts we say “the Mother” as well, because God is beyond gender; we think of God as above and beyond us, or perhaps ahead of us; when we say “God the Son,” referring to Christ, we think of God as beside us; and when we speak of “God the Holy Spirit,” we think of God as within us. God beyond us, God beside us, God within us, Holy Trinity, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
So the Spirit is God within us. That’s what Jesus was pointing to in today’s gospel when he quotes, from the Jewish oral tradition, a saying which never in fact made it into the Hebrew Bible: “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38); although I prefer the more literal translation—“Out of the believer’s belly …”—out of his or her guts—and to make it clear what Jesus means, the evangelist explains, “Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive” (7:39); and the phrase “living water” takes us back from John — to John 4, where Jesus is talking with the woman at the well, and says to her: “… those who drink of the water that I will give them will never
be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life (4:14).”
This is why the Bible speaks of the Spirit being in terms of water. Sometimes it’s poured over our heads, as in baptism, and we salute those being baptized today, Adrian and Keira, and sometimes it bubbles up from inside. But when we have a sense of God within us, and not just up in the sky somewhere, then we are “in the Spirit,” as the author of the Book of Revelation says (1:10)—and the Spirit is in us!
This applies, let’s be clear, both to the individual and to the community. So far I’ve been talking about the individual. But the community, the church which we call the body of Christ, can also be called the community of the Holy Spirit, because only the Spirit of Christ can truly animate the body of Christ. And how can we tell to what extent the community has opened itself to the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit? To the extent to which it demonstrates the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and puts into practice the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12). So that’s my second bequest: an affirmation that the Spirit of Christ lives in you now, and seeks release in your daily life. A congregation will be experienced by its members as a community of the Holy Spirit, if it permits itself to be filled and gifted and guided by the Spirit of Christ.
Another important dimension of Pentecost is the wide range of people who heard the apostles preach on the first Pentecost. It’s always a challenge to whomever is reading that lesson—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of (I prefer the KJV translation: “dwellers in”) Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia … they usually trip up on Phrygia and Pamphylia! The point of all this is that the gospel is for everyone, regardless of ethnicity. The mix of ethnicities we have at St John’s is a wonderful testimony to this.
Now Adrian, since you are an adult, let me say a special word to you—and Janet and Bill, you can tell this to Keira when she’s old enough to understand. You are being baptized this morning, in an Anglican Church, but not into the Anglican Church. Any baptisms that we do are into the worldwide church of God, the mystical body of Christ, the global community of the Holy Spirit. There is no such thing as a specifically Anglican baptism; there is only Christian baptism. The Holy Spirit is not confined to the Anglican Church, but animates not only members of other Christian churches, but any human being who opens himself or herself to God, consciously or unconsciously. As Carl Jung once said, “Named or not named, God is there.” So our prayer for you this morning is that being born again in the Spirit, you will grow in the Spirit, and contribute by your spiritual growth to the spiritual health of any congregation of which you are a member. And to the congregation I say: as the baptismal promises will shortly make clear, you are called to be a community of the Holy Spirit in which new Christians and longtime Christians can find love, joy and peace, the first three aspects of the fruit of the Spirit. So that’s my second bequest: we are in the Spirit and the Spirit is in us.
I’m glad in fact that a male and a female, a man and a little girl, are being baptized today; because my text, from the prophet Joel, and quoted by Peter in his sermon on the first Pentecost says that “your sons and your daughters will prophesy.” And what does that mean? What is prophecy? I know I’ve said this before to you, but it’s worth repeating. Prophecy is simply telling the truth. It’s seeing what you see and having the courage to say what you see. So the church which is the community of the Holy Spirit is also a prophetic community. “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!” cries Moses in today’s first reading (Numbers 11:29). On Pentecost that came true, and the church was launched as a community of truth-telling and commitment to justice. Have we always lived up to this aspect of our calling? No. Must we take this dimension of our faith more seriously? Yes. Should we be prepared to make ourselves unpopular by insisting on unpopular truths? Sometimes. Will the Spirit of Christ be with us as we do? Yes! The only spirituality that will serve in this challenging historical moment is indeed a prophetic spirituality. Jesus also, speaking before Pentecost, says that when “the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). This is a promise we can rely on as we attempt to tell the truth to ourselves and to our society. And this recognition is my third bequest—we are a prophetic community, and are being held accountable both by God and our society for how we honour that calling. What has happened and is happening about the residential schools is a good example of this; we know ourselves accountable before God, and society is also holding us accountable.
My fourth and last bequest is a word about Pope John XXIII, who died on the day of Pentecost 45 years ago. In 1961 I visited Rome, where I am going again in a couple of weeks, when he was pope. I stood in St Peter’s Square on a Sunday after high mass, and waited for him to come to the window to bless the crowd. He was 81 at the time, but his voice was youthful and strong. In the seniors class which I have just finished teaching at SFU, one of the students wrote of her encounter with him the previous year, at a youth conference, with 5000 other young people. Pope John spoke to that assembly in a way which left many of his hearers in tears of emotion. He had a marvelous way of connecting with people. His term was short, just five years, but in calling the Second Vatican Council, he initiated a process of renewal which affected not only his own church but all the churches with an ecumenical orientation. My student ended her paper with a collage of quotations from Pope John, which I now, on this anniversary of his death, repeat to you.
Vacation Bible School – see Anne Anchor or Lori Matthes for details.
Church Picnic – Sept. 7
This is the first Sunday with our new priest mark this date on your calendar!
Here I am. I have come. I looked into your eyes with my eyes and I put my heart near your heart.
When you go home tonight, hug your children and tell them it is the Pope who hugs them.
Do not despair! I am with you always and especially in your hours of sadness and bitterness.
Pope John has since I heard his voice been one of my heroes; and it is a matter of great satisfaction that we Anglicans have included him in our calendar of the saints (it’s on page 27 in the prayerbook, June 4). He was a man full of the Holy Spirit, who released the Spirit into all his relationships, and who insistently called the church to be a community of the Holy Spirit, which is to say, a community of love, the great gift in which all the other gifts find their place.
So these are my bequests to you, not a single one original:
God is good, all the time.
We are in the Spirit, and the Spirit is in us.
We as the church are called to be a prophetic community.
Love one another.
Priest pro tem at St John’s, December 2007 – May 2008
The Confirmation of Sandy Smith
I was confirmed on April 20, 2008 a date and experience I shall remember always. The cathedral was beautiful; Bishop Ingham spoke to those gathered to be confirmed so eloquently. After he laid his hands on my head, I felt… just for a moment a tingling, as though all the hairs on my head were dancing and rejoicing. It was very emotional and peaceful at the same time. I am so grateful that I got to share this experience with my children and especially with Jennifer, Anne and Trudy standing by my side.
I do not know what plans God has for me, but I know the Holy Spirit is within me I can only imagine the possibilities.
From left to right: Trudi Shaw, Sandy Smith and Jennifer Park, Bishop Michael Ingham, and Anne Anchor.
Dear Parishioners of St John’s,
The time has come around again when we need to invest in more prayer and hymn books for the pews. A number of years ago the Parish asked for money donations for a prayer or hymn book from the parishioners in the form of a written dedication in memory of a loved one or simply for the “Glory of God”.
We wish to appeal to you again at this time to help us meet the requirement of approx 14 Hymn books and 10 BAS.
The Book of Common Praise is $32 each and the BAS is $21.
Your message will be typed on a label and placed on the inside of the front page of the book.
The following information is required to make your donation:
□ BAS, ($21 ea.) quantity ______________
□ Book of Common Praise, ($32 ea) quantity_________
□ Cheque amount __________
Thank you in advance for your generosity.
The Wardens (Terry Walton, Claire Prentice, and Sharon Cooper)
So many good deeds go unnoticed around St. John’s. I am sure that many of us want it that way; we do good deeds for the sake of simply doing something that needs to be done, no need to be acknowledged. But some good deeds are taken for granted. With this being said, I think it is important to bring to your attention Juanita and Chantal.
Juanita Sparks faces many challenges, but she also is blessed with people who love her and cherish her, people who want to make sure she feels needed and important. Juanita faithfully comes to the church each Wednesday and collects all the bottles for our recycling program. Juanita along with her Aide, collect, sort and recycle all the bottles and cans that are left at the church and the PMC and takes them to the Biggar Bottle Depot. After collecting the bottles, Juanita then comes over to the PMC and gives the porch or the floors a sweeping and in return, enjoys a piece of candy. Juanita does not speak, but the smile that she gives me in return for the candy, brightens every Wednesday to be sure!
Check out St. John’s new and improved website!
More pictures and content to come!!!
Chantal and her assistant Mai-Lan Jackson also make a contribution to our parish on a weekly basis. Every Thursday like clock-work, Chantal is here to fold the bulletins. Chantal is autistic and part of her routine is learning to interact with the world. When Chantal first came into the office 2 1/2 years ago, she did not say much, she did not enjoy the bulletin work and she really did not want to be here. As time passed, she adapted to her new “job” and began to communicate with me as well. I have learned a lot about her world through time. I have learned she likes dogs…no…Chantal loves dogs, one of the other things she does for therapy is dog walking, I can tell you she prefers walking the dogs over folding the bulletins, but the amazing part of all of this is the fact that Chantal has learned some patience, she has found that after bulletins are folded and she and her Aide have lunch here at the PMC, she walks down the street and she gets to walk the dogs because she has taken the time to do her “work”.
I thought it was important to make people aware of Juanita and Chantal; they are just some of the unseen hands that come and go here at St. John’s. I am blessed to have them be part of my work week. Through these women, I have learned to appreciate many things I take for granted in my day and I have learned patience for the small tasks in life. So the next time you drop off your bottles for recycling or pick up your bulletin on Sunday mornings, you can say a little thank you to both Juanita and Chantal.
Submitted by Karen Evans
Synod has come and gone – check out the diocesan website or ask our synod delegates, Anne Adair Austin, Monica Bryan or Amanda Mungal for more information.
THE FOOD BANK AT ST. JOHN’S
Following is a list of food purchased with funds donated by the parishioners to the Food Bank for the months of January to March 2008.
3 17 lb. bags long grain rice; 70 tins tuna; 48 tins pink salmon; 48 tins fruit; 48 tins vegetables; 48 tins soup; 10 jars peanut butter; 6 cans brown beans; 24 tins Chef Boyardee pasta; 24 large tins pasta sauce; 24 packages Kraft Dinner; 24 900g packages dried pastas; 24 2kg bags white sugar; 20 900g jars mayo; 17 1kg ketchup; 11 900g mustard.
All of these items were sale priced. Also the church pays a monthly delivery fee towards costs for the Quest truck.
Thanks to all of you who have contributed.
The Pre-Authorized payment program is a great program for people who‘s hearts and minds are here in church on Sunday’s but their bodies are required to be somewhere else!
We have 5 children and with 5 children means, 5 schedules and only 2 adults to accommodate all those schedules. Sadly in 2008, many of the programs and sports that are offered to the children are scheduled on Sunday mornings. I could gripe and moan to the powers that be, but I suppose it is really like asking them to reschedule the programs for my sake…it would fall on deaf ears. I have however found a way to still support St. John’s when we can’t be here in person. Even when we are not here, our financial support is, thanks to the PRE -AUTHORIZED DONATION PROGRAM.
The P.A. D. P. is quick and simple! You fill out a short form along with a voided cheque and turn them into Bonnie SooChan or the office and viola, your donation will come directly out of your account on or about the same day each month (mine comes out around the 23 of each month). I find it is the most effective way to make my donation to the church, even when I can’t be in church for Worship on Sunday.
The forms are located on the table at the entrance to the church. If you are interested or have any questions please see Bonnie or call the office.
Submitted by: Karen Evans