E-postle – June 4th, 2017

The E-postle

June 4, 2017

“The Parish of St. John the Apostle is called to be

*          A Spirited Community at the heart of Port Moody

*          transformed through the experience of the presence of Christ

*          and sent out to share God’s Love”

– draft mission statement

A Spirited Community

It takes energy to change.   The natural human tendency is to resist something new because the familiar is, well, familiar.  At least we can gauge how much we have to put in to stay in the same spot.  But being stationary is not good for any living organism:  witness how sore your back gets when you sit for too long.  The Holy Spirit stirs us to restlessness, to dissatisfaction with the way things are.  But to overcome inertia, we need both a vision of where we want to get to and courage to take a first step.

Within the transition process, talking is important but talking is not enough.  God is stirring us to change.  It is about letting go of the old so that we have our hands free to grasp the new.  The work is daunting for a few parish leaders.  Each and every member must be part of the change process:  willing to make room inside to be filled by the Holy Spirit.  The gifts given at Pentecost are here among you:  wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, and interpretation.  Bring them forward and share them so that your leaders may be strengthened and renewed.  Every voice is needed to engage in our identity and priorities.  Every ear is needed to listen for God in what others say.  And every hand is needed for first steps.  The depth of your engagement will determine how quickly the Spirit can drive us forward.

Or for those of you who like mathematics:

C      =      D              x               V              x               F               >         R

change                        dissatisfaction                                    vision                                      first steps        resistance

Yours in Christ,

Stephanie+

Readings for Pentecost, June 11th, 2017  

Genesis 1:1-2:4a; Psalm 8; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20

 

Prayer Cycle

In the Anglican Communion- Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Primate of Canada Fred Hiltz, BC & Yukon Archbishop John Privett, our partner Diocese of Northern Philippines, Bishop Brent Alawas, and especially the people of our twin church at St. Johns Mission, Bila, Mountain Province;

Diocese of New Westminster Bishop Melissa Skelton, and this week:

Holy Spirit Anglican Church, Whonnock

St. Columba, Pitt Meadows

In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada- National Bishop Susan Johnson, BC Bishop Greg Mohr;

 

The brothers and sisters who share our worship space: The Port Moody Korean Presbyterian Church and the Polish Evangelical Church.

 

Upcoming Dates

June 4- Pentecost: wear RED (or orange or yellow)

June 5- 7 pm Website focus group in Parish Ministry Centre

June 6- 7 pm Stewardship Team meeting

June 7- 9:30 am-12 noon, Coffee & Crafts in the church hall

June 10- 10 am- 12 noon Liturgy Workshop for those with roles in worship

June 11-17 Diocesan School for Parish Development

June 15- 6 pm, ACW Wind-up Dinner with food from the Wokking Dragon

June 17- 1:30 pm, EfM Graduation service at St. Stephen’s West Vancouver

June 17- 1:30-4:30 pm, Indigenous Justice Fair at St. Stephen’s Burnaby

June 25- 11:30 am-3 pm Deanery Picnic at Blue Mountain Park

June 26- 7 pm Parish Council in the Parish Ministry Centre, all welcome to attend

 

Stewardship Reflection

“Our Baptism calls us into a life of stewardship.  As individuals baptized into the church of God we have made some significant promises. Our lives are spent learning to live into these promises… The Baptismal Covenant (Book of alternative Services, page 158-159) asks us to live in ways which obey the teachings of Jesus. This is a six-part rule of life, this is living the life of stewardship.”

–        From the book Draw near to God,  by Glen Mitchell

In living out these promises we obey the teachings of Jesus, recognizing that all belongs to God; that we are called to manage all these gifts according to God’s will, which leads to transformation of
life.  How does the Holy Spirit sustain you with the courage to will and persevere?

 

Liturgy Workshop

On Sunday mornings, the work of the people we know as worship is sustained by many roles.  On Saturday June 10, all those who help with the services are strongly encouraged to come to review what you do, encourage and train others, and share ideas for change.  If you are one of the following: sacristan, server, crucifer, intercessor, reader, greeter, or healing prayer person, you are needed from 10 am to noon.  If you feel the stirrings of an interest in helping glorify God through worship, come and see what it’s about.  Coffee, tea, and muffins will be ready for 9:30 am. For more information, speak to one of the clergy.

 

Gauging interest for Convening a Garage Sale

Is there a parishioner who is ready, willing, and able to coordinate a parish garage sale this summer?  The feasibility of this event depends on someone to be a convener and enough warm bodies to help.  Please contact one of the wardens if you are passionate about this as a fundraiser.

 

Focus Group for Website

Those interested in testing out upgrades to our parish website are invited to join a focus group on Monday June 5 at 7 pm in the Parish Ministry Centre.  Check out what we have now at www.stja.ca and email your comments on ease of use and content to the parish office at  stjohn7@shaw.ca

 

Deanery Picnic at Blue Mountain Park

On Sunday June 25, 2017, Anglicans from across the Tri-Cities North Burnaby Deanery will be gathering for worship, food, and fun at Blue Mountain Park in Coquitlam.  The festivities begin at 11:30 am with a joint worship.  There will be a regular 8:30 am service and shortened 10 am service at St. Johns this day to allow people to choose to either come and have Eucharist here first or sleep in J and go directly to the park.  Following a “Prayer and Praise” in the park, lunch will be shared at the picnic shelters.  Participants are invited to bring lunch for themselves and something to share, e.g. vegetable sticks, cookies, watermelon, cheese and crackers, drinks.  That way, any guests or newcomers can be warmly invited to attend and to eat, drink, and be merry!  Those who have outdoor games suitable for any age are encouraged to bring them along (perhaps mark your name and phone number on the equipment).  Lawn darts or full contact croquet, anyone?

 

Yes You Can go to Camp Artaban!

St. John’s has financial assistance available for a family or young person to attend a residential camp on Gambier Island.  The family camp is a wonderful introduction for children too young to attend on their own and makes a great family vacation with meals and accommodation provided.  Please speak to a warden or Stephanie about how you can make your holiday happen.

 

EfM Graduation Service 

St. Christopher’s, West Vancouver on Saturday, June 17 at 1:30 pm.  Bishop Melissa will preside and present the certificates to the grads which include two from the St John’s group.

 

Upcoming TRC Events

Thursday June 8th COMMUNITY STORIES OF TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION David Lam campus (Coquitlam)Douglas College. This is organized by Community Volunteer Connections with the First Nations Support and Healing organization and Spirit of the Children. The event is free (donations encouraged to the Spirit of the Children) It begins at 5 pm with a reception, guest panel at 6 pm, a moderated Q & A session at 7.  Register at  www.volunteerconnections.net under festivals and events.

 

Saturday June 17th at St. Stephens Burnaby (Cameron St by Lougheed Mall) 1:00 – 4:30 Indigenous Justice Fair & Performance; Hosted by DNW Anglican Indigenous Circle.   “All are welcome to an oppotunity to meet and share your work for Indigenous Justice and learn about the work of others. We will begin with tabling and sharing information in the hall and move to the church for a mask theatre performance of Qwalena with Dallas Yellowfly of Three Crows Productions. https://www.3crowsproductions.com/ This powerful piece makes connections with one family’s experiences of residential schools and will be followed by a community conversation.  All are welcome. NOTE: Content refers to residential schools, physical and sexual abuse and violence within families. Please contact us if you are considering bringing a child under the age of 12.” (from DNW Indigenous Circle Facebook page).

A.C.W. News

St. John’s A.C.W. will meet on Thursday, June 15th for their Chinese Take-Out, ‘wind-up’ dinner. The cost will be $15. All women of the Parish are welcome to attend.

At our May meeting, we resolved, as usual, to disburse funds raised throughout the year to various outreach projects. These are the projects that we chose to support this year and the funds they received: St. John’s Church (Capital Improvement Fund) $1,500, Syrian Refugees $300, Bird’s Nest $300, L’Arche $300, Mission to Seafarers $300, St. Jude’s $300, Annual Fund  (VST) $300, The Home-Coming Society$300,Tri-Cities Women’s Shelter $300.

As you are aware, the ACW hosts a bazaar in November of each year.   We have been very fortunate to have had this event coordinated by Ferne Malcolm for a number of years.  At this time, Ferne feels the need to pass on the torch and we thought it best to address this issue to the entire parish rather than just members of our ACW, hence this letter.   The bazaar is not just an ACW event but, indeed, a parish event.  As Stephanie mentioned a few weeks ago during our Parish potluck, in many instances the same people have been involved in the same tasks for a very long time.  She also mentioned that moving forward it is sometimes good to get new people to step up to the plate which would also bring “freshness” to the table as we all have different strengths and ideas.  We are searching for a person or persons who would be interested in coordinating the bazaar henceforth with, of course, help from the ACW members and Ferne will be available to assist, if needed, for this current year.  If you feel this is your calling, please speak to, or phone one of the following ACW members as soon as possible: Sue Hall (president), Antoinette Woodman (treasurer),Sylvia Bradley (secretary).

 

An Invitation to the Coffee & Crafts Group

You are invited to come for fellowship, creative ideas, and light refreshments.  Whether you are eager to explore your artistic side or bring fumble fingers to assist with ongoing projects, you are most welcome.  The group meets the first Wednesday of each month from 9:30 am to noon.  Upcoming meeting Wednesday June 7th.  For further information, contact Ferne through the parish office.

 

Important Contact Information

Interim Priest- The Rev. Stephanie Shepard rev.seshepard@gmail.com or 778-773-6816

Parish Office- Karen Evans stjohn7@shaw.ca or 604-936-7762

Wardens- Geri Grigg gerigrigg@gmail.com Terry Walton terry&joanne_walton@telus.net  Maureen Simons mesimons@telus.net or through the parish office

Treasurer- Chelsea Belyk chelsea.belyk@gmail.com

Parish Council- Adelaine Miller, Secretary adelainemiller@shaw.ca

St. John Prayer Circle- Sue Elliott elliott.sue1@gmail.com

Pastoral Visiting Ministry- Joanne Walton terry&joanne_walton@telus.net

or Alma Oldenburg almaolden@hotmail.com

Anglican Church Women (ACW)- Sue Hall 604-936-0176

Deanery Picnic at Blue Mountain Park

On Sunday June 25, 2017, Anglicans from across the Tri-Cities North Burnaby Deanery will be gathering for worship, food, and fun at Blue Mountain Park in Coquitlam.  The festivities begin at 11:30 am with a joint worship.  There will be a regular 8:30 am service and shortened 10 am service at St. Johns this day to allow people to choose to either come and have Eucharist here first or sleep in J and go directly to the park.  Following a “Prayer and Praise” in the park, lunch will be shared at the picnic shelters.  Participants are invited to bring lunch for themselves and something to share, e.g. vegetable sticks, cookies, watermelon, cheese and crackers, drinks.  That way, any guests or newcomers can be warmly invited to attend and to eat, drink, and be merry!  Those who have outdoor games suitable for any age are encouraged to bring them along (perhaps mark your name and phone number on the equipment).  Lawn darts or full contact croquet, anyone?

 

The E-postle May 28, 2017

 “The Parish of St. John the Apostle is called to be

*             A Spirited Community at the heart of Port Moody

*             transformed through the experience of the presence of Christ

*             and sent out to share God’s Love”

– draft mission statement Continue reading “The E-postle May 28, 2017”

Camp Artaban registraion is OPEN!

 

Registration for Camp Artaban is open and places are available in all the camps. We believe that every child should have the opportunity to experience summer camp. At Camp Artaban, we have campership bursaries to enable those who can’t afford the full fees to still attend. If you know of a child or family would benefit from Camp, please contact the Camp office for more information or to begin the application process or have the family contact us directly.

If you would like to support the campership program, we accept donations which are earmarked just for that purpose. You can donate through the Camp office or securely online at http://campartaban.com/make-a-donation.

Please do not hesitate to contact the office on 604-980-0391, 604-379-9074 or by return email.

campartaban.com

 

The E-postle May 21, 2017

 

 “The Parish of St. John the Apostle is called to be

*          A Spirited Community at the heart of Port Moody

*          transformed through the experience of the presence of Christ

*          and sent out to share God’s Love”

– draft mission statement

The Eucharist

Every time Christians gather at the table and share bread and wine, we re-live the reality of who we are as the people of God.  The celebration of the Eucharist, or “Great Thanksgiving”, is the work of the whole community.  The celebrant is the one who presides at the front, but the liturgy is a collective prayer-filled action.  All of us are participants and witnesses that it is Jesus Christ who is the host of this holy meal.  Sometimes the bread that is blessed is called “the host” to remind us of this truth, as it becomes for us the body of our Lord.

 

Every baptized person is a full member of the body of Christ and is welcome to receive both bread and wine.  Even small children may do so, and this discussion is part of the preparation for baptism. But no one has a complete theological explanation for the mystery and amazing love that is symbolized by this sacrament, and the Church doesn’t demand you to have one before you come to the table.  What we instinctively understand and are drawn toward is sometimes more than we can put into words.  We grow into a deeper maturity in faith as we learn through practice and reflection. For this reason, our communion services on Sunday May 28 at 8:30 am and 10 am will be Teaching Eucharists.  During the liturgy we will consider the meaning of some of the things we do.  There will be time after the service to ask questions of the clergy and each other.

 

In the Eucharist, we are transformed and strengthened for discipleship in the world.  Let us continue in the apostles’ teaching, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers, as our baptismal covenant affirms.

 

Yours in Christ,

Stephanie+

 

Readings for Easter 6, May 28th, 2017  

Acts 1:6-14; Psalm 68:1-10, 33-36; 1 Peter 4:12-14 & 5:6-11; John 17:1-11

 

Prayer Cycle

The Diocese of Northern Philippines, Bishop Brent Alawas and people,

BC Lutheran Bishop Greg Mohr, Anglican Diocesan Bishop Melissa Skelton, and this week:

St. Helen, Vancouver – The Reverend Scott Gould

St. Helen, Surrey – The Reverend Stephen Laskey

Diocesan Synod – officers and delegates.

Upcoming Dates

May 26-27- Diocesan Synod at the Italian Cultural Centre

May 28- Parish Visiting Ministry meeting at the Waltons’ home

May 29- 7 pm Parish Council in the Parish Ministry Centre, all welcome to attend

June 4- Pentecost: wear RED

June 11-17 Diocesan School for Parish Development

June 25- 11:30 am-3 pm Deanery Picnic at Blue Mountain Park

June 26- 7 pm Parish Council in the Parish Ministry Centre, all welcome to attend

 

Stewardship Reflection

“But as it is written ‘what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor human heart conceived, what God has
prepared for those who love him’-these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” – 1 Corinthians 2; 9-10


God loves us. In what ways are we showing our love at St. Johns for God?

 

Opportunity to Spring Clean Your Closet and Help

Donations are needed for the 3030 Gordon Shelter. Your donation of men’s socks, underwear, sweatpants and hooded jackets are greatly appreciated. If you would like more information please contact Mary Lou Kyle at 604-461-7162 or via email at maryloukyle1234@gmail.com or Ruby Ng at 778-994-9963 or via email at rubyngchen@gmail.com

Marks of Mission Feedback at Parish Forum

At our Parish Forum on May 7, St. John’s identified the following three marks of mission as priorities for the community:

  • respond to human need by loving service
  • teach, baptize, and nurture new believers
  • seek to transform unjust structures of society, challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation

 

Through these, we proclaim the good news of the kingdom, and by them we seek to sustain and nurture creation.  In the worksheets that were circulated, those present were asked the following questions:

What ministries can make this Mark more visible to the world?

What changes to the building will make this possible?

 

The parish leadership is now beginning to collect up your responses and draw out the themes that are emerging to focus the parish vision.  Identifying the function (what God is calling us to) helps shape the form (the place we minister).  One of the learnings is that any renovations need to be “purpose built”: that is, we need to understand what we are going to use the space for.  Then building in both accessibility and flexibility is key.  Both teaching space and gathering space were raised as needful to address a growing community not only within the church but in our larger neighbourhood.

Being hospitable and a spiritual sanctuary means incorporating supportive functions such as toilets and parking and addressing safety concerns in the building.

 

Your participation in this discussion is very important.  Worksheets are available on the parish website at www.stja.ca and can be emailed back to the parish office at stjohn7@shaw.ca

 

Important Contact Information

Interim Priest– The Rev. Stephanie Shepard rev.seshepard@gmail.com or 778-773-6816

Parish Office– Karen Evans stjohn7@shaw.ca or 604-936-7762

Wardens– Geri Grigg gerigrigg@gmail.com Terry Walton terry&joanne_walton@telus.net  Maureen Simons mesimons@telus.net or through the parish office

Treasurer– Chelsea Belyk chelsea.belyk@gmail.com

Parish Council– Adelaine Miller, Secretary adelainemiller@shaw.ca

St. John Prayer Circle– Sue Elliott

Pastoral Visiting Ministry– Joanne Walton terry&joanne_walton@telus.net

or Alma Oldenburg almaolden@hotmail.com

Parish Forum Worksheet -May 2017

Below you will find the Parish Forum Worksheet .

Your comments and opinions are important to St. John’s.

A printable version is available by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page. Please feel free to scan and email the form to the office at stja.ca or send it by mail to the parish office.

____________________________________________________________________________

Draft Mission Statement:

The Parish of St. John the Apostle is called to be

+          A Spirited community at the heart of Port Moody

+          transformed through the experience of the presence of Christ

+          and sent out to share God’s Love

The Five Marks of Mission:

1.    proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom

2.    teach, baptize, and nurture new believers

3.    respond to human need by loving service

4.    seek to transform unjust structures of society, challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation

5.    strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

Sources of Transformation (from the Gather-Transform-Send Model)

DIDISCALIA-STUDY & LEARNING

Mind, Heart, Practice

LEITOURGIA- WORSHIP

Holy Eucharist, Daily Office, Personal Prayer

KOINONIA- LIFE IN COMMUNITY                                                                                               DIAKONIA- ACTION

Food, Conversation, Silence                                                                                            Stewardship, Service, Evangelism

St. John Parish Forum Worksheet May 7, 2017

1.    Which of the 5 Marks of Mission is the priority for St. John the Apostle Anglican Church?  Why?

2.    What sources of transformation here already support this Mark of Mission?

3.    What ministries can make this Mark more visible to the world?

4.    What changes to the building structures will make this possible?

 

forum worksheet landscape may7 17 (2)

 

 

 

The E-postle-May 14, 2017

Baptism and Confirmation

I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

It is such a simple sentence.  But with these words, we acknowledge the love of God active in our lives from the moment of birth.  We choose the One who has already chosen us, and we do so in the sight of the community.  It is a crucial turning point: to forgiveness, healing, and strength in a new life of service.  We use the language of dying and rising again, of being washed clean, of becoming part of a new humanity. It is the first decision in faith that we make for ourselves or our child, and we have the rest of our lives to work out God’s purpose.  Ongoing participation in a Christian community is how we grow into this new life together.

Strengthen, O Lord, your servant with your Holy Spirit;empower him/her for your service; and sustain him/her all the days of his/her life.”

If you were baptized as a young child, or if you are coming to a point in your life when you feel it is important to make a public declaration of your faith, you might want to consider the rite of Confirmation. In previous generations, young people had to wait until they were confirmed to receive communion.  This was in part a historical consequence of a bishop’s inability to be in every parish to do baptisms, so the bishop had to come around to “confirm” what the local priest had done to teach and initiate new believers.  With the liturgical renewal of the 1960’s and 1970’s, a regained understanding that baptism is the “full meal deal” introduced young people to the life of the Eucharist at a much earlier age.  But there are still good reasons why an individual might want to be confirmed.  Maybe your godparents made promises on your behalf that you now want to say for yourself.  Perhaps your life journey has led you away from the Church, and your return to a faith community is a significant step.  Or you are now making the transition from someone who has always been in the pews to a more committed disciple.  If it is important for you to say “yes” again to God, then consider inviting the power of the Holy Spirit personally into your heart by having hands laid on you prayerfully by our Diocesan Bishop Melissa Skelton.

The Sacrament of Baptism and Confirmation comes after a time of preparation in the parish when you are instructed in your promises and covenant, and encouraged to explore and ask questions about your faith in Jesus Christ.  Baptisms often take place at the high holy festivals of the church year:  Easter season, Pentecost, All Saints Day, or the Baptism of our Lord (January).  Confirmation is usually in the Easter season, and next year we will have Bishop Melissa visit St. John’s on Sunday April 29, 2018.  To help you discern, instruction called Catechism- literally “the Teaching”- is offered by the clergy and lay leaders.  Those interested in joining a Catechism Class are invited to speak with one of the clergy.  Regular meetings will then be set according to the group’s needs.

Yours in Christ,

Stephanie+

Readings for Easter 5, May 21st, 2017

Acts 17:22-31; Psalm 66:7-18; 15-16; 1 Peter 3:13-22; John 14:15-21

Upcoming Dates

May 13- 10:30 am Diocesan Confirmations at Christ Church Cathedral

May 18- Anglican Church Women Meeting 7 pm in the Church Hall

May 26-27- Diocesan Synod at the Italian Cultural Centre

May 28- Parish Visiting Ministry meeting at the Waltons’ home

May 29- 7 pm Parish Council in the Parish Ministry Centre, all welcome to attend

June 4- Pentecost

June 11-17 Diocesan School for Parish Development

 

Stewardship Reflection

“I am with you”. “I will go with you”. ” I will be with you”. – The S Word: Douglas Hambidge
“As I was with Moses so I will be with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you…. the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:1-10

Believing this, how does it make a difference to your stewardship?

This week, we give thanks for the work of the Anglican Church Women in putting on the Spring Tea, which raised over $1200.  We also give thanks for those who shared food and helped with our potluck lunch last Sunday, at which parishioners had an opportunity to share where the parish may go with God’s help.

Opportunity to Spring Clean Your Closet and Help

Donations are needed for the 3030 Gordon Shelter. Your donation of men’s socks, underwear, sweatpants and hooded jackets are greatly appreciated. If you would like more information please contact Mary Lou Kyle at 604-461-7162 or via email at maryloukyle1234@gmail.com or Ruby Ng at 778-994-9963 or via email at rubyngchen@gmail.com

Sources of Transformation Feedback at Parish Forum

During Lent, we explored sources of transformation already at work in the parish.  From your feedback, we learned the following:

–        People come to St. John’s for many reasons, but stay because they feel welcomed, accepted and fed.  Our responsibility is to be more intentional about how we invite, orient, and incorporate recent arrivals and seekers and offer ways to grow deeper in the faith

–        We gather in worship that restores and challenges our understandings.  We have a diverse community that thrives with creative liturgy while recognizing our Anglican heritage.

–         Teaching is an important expression of our apostolic calling to proclaim the good news.  A good number of parishioners spend time in learning groups such as Education for Ministry (EfM), Godly Play, and Bible study.  Commitment to opportunities for theological reflection in our life together will help us deepen our spiritual practices.

–        Fellowship and opportunities to eat, talk, and be with each other help us find comfort and support.  However, those who have done so well to organize in the past need help, and the parish must find ways to both pass on experience and allow others to grow into leadership roles.

–        St. John’s identifies as a faith community that reaches out in action to the wider neighbourhood through ministries such as the Birds’ Nest, the Food Bank, Anglican Church Women outreach projects and the 3030 Gordon shelter.  Donations and volunteers assist, but most take place off-site and under different agencies.  How could St. John’s be more visible in the community, and how could the buildings better support loving service in action?

–        Good communication is a top priority for sharing ideas and planning forward

Parishioners were invited to reflect on whether anything is missing from draft Mission Statement, which will come to Parish Council for recommendation and then to Vestry for final adoption:

The Parish of St. John the Apostle is called to be

*          A Spirited Community at the heart of Port Moody

*          transformed through the experience of the presence of Christ

*          and sent out to share God’s Love

Those present then considered how to enflesh the Mission Statement. Three of the Five Anglican Marks of Mission are identified as priorities for this community.  In order of support, they are

–        respond to human need by loving service

–        teach, baptize, and nurture new believers

–        seek to transform unjust structures of society, challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation

Through these, we proclaim the good news of the kingdom, and by them we seek to sustain and nurture creation.   The way we go about setting goals for meeting these marks will shape the way our buildings need to be reconfigured or utilized.  Individuals and table groups entered discussion about strengths, challenges, and next steps for our buildings.  In the next issue of the E-postle, some of the feedback from the plenary and the worksheets on parish goals will be shared.

 

Important Contact Information

Interim Priest- The Rev. Stephanie Shepard rev.seshepard@gmail.com or 778-773-6816

Parish Office- Karen Evans stjohn7@shaw.ca or 604-936-7762

Wardens- Geri Grigg gerigrigg@gmail.com Terry Walton terry&joanne_walton@telus.net  Maureen Simons mesimons@telus.net or through the parish office

Treasurer- Chelsea Belyk chelsea.belyk@gmail.com

Parish Council- Adelaine Miller, Secretary adelainemiller@shaw.ca

St. John Prayer Circle-  While Sue Elliott is away until May 14, please direct requests to Joan Scott at scott.joan@hotmail.com or via phone at 604-941-5795.

Pastoral Visiting Ministry- Joanne Walton terry&joanne_walton@telus.net

or Alma Oldenburg almaolden@hotmail.com

Homily for Easter 4, May 7, 2017- the Rev. Stephanie shepard

John 10:1-10

 

“The Gated Community”

Shepherd us, O Lord, beyond our wants, beyond our fears, from death into life.  Amen.

If there’s one thing people in Jesus’ time should know about, it’s sheep.  Israel, first century, was full of sheep and goats. Most common people had at least a couple in the backyard.  Even those of the priestly classes, scribes and Pharisees, recognized one when it landed on the dinner plate.  They may have been above such menial day-to-day work as herding, but the history and culture of the Hebrew peoples was intertwined with the ruminants.

The Bible is full of references where people get compared to sheep, and the images are both positive and negative.  Psalm 100 pictures God as the great Shepherd: “Know that the Lord is God.  It is he that made us and we are his.  We are his people and the sheep of his pasture.”  Later on, the prophets criticize the religious leaders for getting fat themselves instead of guiding those in their care.  Ezekiel prophesies “You shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves!  Should not shepherds feed the sheep?  I am against the shepherds; and I will demand my sheep at their hand” (Ezekiel 34:2-15).  But the people are not blameless.  In Isaiah’s exilic lament he cries, “all we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way” (Isaiah 53:6).  Sheep are communal animals that need food and shelter and care.  They thrive when under good leadership; they stray and struggle when there is no leader.  So when Jesus starts talking about sheep, even though we modern listeners struggle with the context, you would think that the Pharisees would clue in.

In John chapter 10 we get the nearest thing to a parable that the gospel throws at us.  The pastoral picture is of sheep in an enclosure.  There are imposters that try to climb over the wall to get at the sheep, but the real shepherd is the one who comes to the gate.  He is let in by the gatekeeper, calls the sheep, and the sheep come to him. The narrative says that they don’t understand the figure of speech he uses.  Maybe Jesus’ listeners are suspicious or deliberately playing dumb.  After all, he can’t be comparing them to thieves and bandits, when it is their job to be the shepherds of Israel.  Can he?  Jesus echoes the prophets’ criticism of leaders who are not leading, but there is more.  He also challenges the people to listen for God’s voice.  If they, like the sheep, want to find new pastures and fresh water, they have to come to the gate when they hear the Shepherd’s voice.

Maybe we have a cosy picture in our minds of the sheep led safely into the pen to live happily ever after.  But sheep can’t live in a sheepfold.  They crowd each other.  They run out of food and water. It is a cramped space.  That’s only where they are kept at night, away from the predators. In the morning, the shepherd comes to the gate and the gatekeeper opens it up to allow the flock out.  Those who recognize the shepherd’s voice come out to be led to pasture.  It is the coming out that is important.

I was on a bus last year that got stuck for three hours on the Coquihalla summit because a semi-trailer had spun out on the ice in front of us.  I started talking to the passenger in the seat next to me, as one does. Turned out that she was a real live sheepherder from France who was on her way to Revelstoke to work in the fields for two months with local shepherds for the season.  I learned many interesting facts about sheep.  One is that sheep, like many animals, are scared of confining spaces.  They avoid them.  So getting sheep to go through a gate is sometimes a difficult task if they cannot see the point of the pasture on the other side (where the grass is presumably greener).  One way to get them to move is to call one or more of the elder females of the flock to the front and persuade her through the opening.  The other sheep will trust that this is a signal that it is safe and will follow.  This is what Jesus was talking about.

The Pharisees don’t much like what they think he is getting at: portraying them as untrustworthy leaders. But Jesus is not finished.  He goes on to give them a different scenario.  “I am the gate for the sheep.  All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them.” (John 10:7-8).  Now in a sense this is hyperbole.  Of course Moses and the prophets and those who came before Jesus weren’t all bad.  But Jesus could here be referring to all the other messiah-types who were running around Palestine at the same time as him.  There were lots of would-be charismatic leaders in his time as there are in ours, although in 30 A.D. they weren’t necessarily running for public office.  Here he is giving the people credit for some discernment.  The crowds who have come forward to hear the good news recognize the truth.  They risk the safety of their everyday lives to find life abundant and freedom in his call.

And this is where we too have a choice.  If we want a change in our lives, we cannot be tempted to remain too comfortable.   There are those who are like the sheep in the pen, preferring to stay in relative safety and not leave the familiar.  But they will get very hungry and weak.  And there are others who are so far outside the pen that they won’t seek its safety even when danger threatens.  They can easily get lost and lonely.

A healthy Church is a gated community.  That expression means something very different in our modern parlance.  It conjures up a picture of perfect little homes of like-minded citizens who all live together inside a wall because they don’t much like or trust those outside.  The gate rolls open when you punch a code into a control panel or you are let in by the worker in the little gatehouse at the entrance.  And the gate rolls shut once you go inside so that the great unwashed don’t follow you.   Although there are unfortunately some places where this protection is an advantage, this is not what Jesus is talking about as a model for the Church.

The Church is a different kind of gated community.  It is not a fortress.   We do not lock people in or lock people out.  And we should not have leaders that want to do one or the other.  But we do have a clear entrance point that those who are searching for forgiveness and healing can come to for sanctuary.  At the same time, that door is also the transition for servants to go out into the world to do ministry, as they hear the voice of God calling them.  The gatekeepers are those who help others to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.  Sometimes this is a call to go in to safety.  But often it is a call to come out of the enclosure and to work for freedom, truth, and justice in the wider landscape.  And there is one gate, Jesus Christ, whose voice is the one we need to hear in order to pass safely to and fro.

Sheep do best when they stick together in the flock.  If there are not enough leader-sheep, the flock won’t have courage to move out of the sheepfold.   The sheep have to trust the voice of the Good Shepherd and one another in order to get out together to where the green grass is waiting.   Religious leaders get cast in different roles:  sheepdogs, gatekeepers, hired hands or even bandits.   But although we are pastors, we are not the chief pastor.  What I can affirm, in spite of my last name, is that there is only one Good Shepherd.  As psalm 95 says, He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.  O that today you would hear his voice!

Amen.

 

 

Homily for Easter 2, April 23, 2017- The Rev. Stephanie Shepard

John 20:19-31

 

“Marks of Mission”

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our Rock and our RedeemerAmen.

Some religious places should have warnings:  may contain scenes of graphic violence.  They pop up when you least expect them.  I was visiting a retreat house on which had a separate dining room for the nuns of the convent.  Since I was the only guest there, I was invited to join them at table.  In the corner, staring me in the face, was a large plaster statue representing Jesus of the bleeding heart.  Somehow the image of Christ ripping open his robes to reveal an anatomically correct and technicolour organ put me off my dinner.

Visitors to churches may be unsettled by the crucifixes, the martyrs’ tombs, the Bible stories immortalized in glass and tapestry.  They often depict suffering and death.  From the Easter side of the resurrection story most Christians can put them in the context of life everlasting, but they can still evoke a squeamish response.   Modern people prefer beauty without flaw, life without decay, reward without mention of suffering.  An empty cross is easier on the eyes than a man hanging in pain.  But when Jesus rose, he did not escape from the tomb unmarked.  His resurrected body bore the marks of the hurts that were inflicted in the crucifixion.  Hands and side bear witness to his passion and testify to God’s victory.  These are the currency of physical death and physical resurrection which Jesus has paid for all of us.

So when Jesus appears after that first Easter morning, those scars are an important detail.  They are a means of the disciples recognizing their Lord.  They are also a proclamation that he is actually who he said he was:  the Messiah, the Son of God.  The marks are mentioned three times in the gospel story this morning from John chapter 20.  The first time is verse 20, when Jesus appears amongst the fearful followers, who are hiding from the authorities.  As proof that he is alive and that Mary has spoken truly, he shows them his hands and his side.  The disciples’ response is to rejoice, for now they see him as their Lord.

One disciple, Thomas, was not present amongst the gathering.  He tells the others “unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe” (verse 25).  In demanding this, he is not doubting any more than his friends did before they got to touch and affirm the risen Lord.  He wants the same proof so that he too can rejoice and believe.

Then in verse 27, Jesus comes again to the gathering and invites Thomas to touch his wounds.  “Put your finger here and see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it in my side.  Do not doubt but believe”.  And it is in this act of intimacy that Thomas literally puts his finger on it.  “My Lord and my God”, he cries.  The purpose of this written record is so that those who come after this first generation of witnesses may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that though believing him we may have life in his name.  But we have not seen; we have not touched.  How are we or others around us to come to believe?

Those marks on the risen Jesus put him in solidarity with all of humanity.  We are all wounded in some way.  Sometimes what we have gone through even leaves physical marks on our bodies.  Pregnancy stretch marks, surgery scars, broken and set bones, stitches, cut marks, burns, needle scabs, tattoos and piercings.  Some we inflict on ourselves, other we endure for another.  All bear witness to our struggles.  Yet more marks are hidden and secret:  loneliness, abandonment, sickness, despair.  They too are carried, not just within the wounds that Jesus received as a human, but those he continues to show as the risen Christ.  When we see an image of the man with holes in his hands, it is not just a representation of the pain that Jesus once suffered.  It is also a lifting up of our own present pain.

But it is not the Church’s task to carry another’s woundedness.  We would sink under the load.  Only God is the healer.  Instead the Church, as the body of Christ,  are to collectively remember those marks, and find new ways to proclaim them for the world to see.  They are the symbols that new life is possible in spite of what has happened.  Love is stronger than death.  Scars are more powerful reminders of healing than unscarred flesh.  Those that we bear show that we are willing to get our hands dirty and hurt in order to serve.  What then marks us as followers of the risen Christ?

The Anglican Communion worldwide has identified a framework to describe and encourage ministry through the following five marks of mission:

to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom

  1. to teach, baptize, and nurture new believers
  2. to respond to human need by loving service
  3. to seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation
  4. to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

It is up to each local congregation to take concrete actions to make these marks visible to the wider community.

Our starting point is this parish.  If you think about it, the place where we gather says a lot to outsiders about what we believe and what we think is important.  What do you think people see when they come to our building?  How does it reflect the marks of mission?  We don’t have a plaster Jesus of the bleeding heart here (at least, I haven’t found one yet).  But we are surrounded by things that tell the observer about what matters and what doesn’t.  Are there clues that reveal our willingness to love and labour in the brokenness of human life, to be wounded healers through the power of the resurrection?  As Christians, we must be able to point to some signs of our belief, so that others can come to touch God.  This is our mission, as it was that of the first apostles, for “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

The questions we ask are important.  What speaks of our willingness to proclaim the good news?  How do we teach and nurture?  How does the world see loving service here?  When do we speak out about unjust structures, challenge wrongs, and pursue peace and reconciliation?  And in what ways do we demonstrate our commitment to safeguard and sustain the creation?  As we are willing to bring them to God, the Holy Spirit will breathe among us, and make us a people forgiven and forgiving.  Amen.