Home Worship for the Three Days: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday April 9-11, 2020

Dear members of the family of God at St. John’s,

We will not be together as usual for the great three days of worship and reflection that lead us to Easter and the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection. We will be streaming the services for Maundy Thursday (6 pm), Good Friday (12 Noon), and Easter (8 and 10:30 am), as we are becoming accustomed to doing. For some of us, however, the change to have worship with our family or household might be a better option. Attention spans may be different for things viewed on a screen than for those experienced in the flesh. You might find household worship to be more active and less passive.

The following home services were created for the Church of the Resurrection Lutheran in Washington, DC and have been adapted for our use. On each occasion you can set out one or more physical symbols:, a bowl of water and a clean towel; then a cross or crucifix; and finally a candle or fire and candles for each worshiper. Take some time to create a space for worship and involve others in your family in doing so. That space might be a place you turn to for prayer and praise at other times in this season. We hope these resources will support your life in Christ for these holy days, in a difficult season.

Nicholas+

Home Worship for the Three Days: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday April 9-11, 2020
Click Here

Prayers for Healthcare Professionals

We are grateful for the many healthcare professionals at St. John’s who are serving our community during the Covid-19 pandemic. Below is a list of some of those names. If you know of others, please send their names to Fr. Scott This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You may also find a collect below that you are welcome to use as you hold them up in prayer. We are setting aside Fridays at noon to say this prayer corporately (an additional prayer for Fridays is below). You may, of course, use this at any time, when you are moved by the Spirit.

Blessed Savior, at this hour you hung upon the hard wood of the cross, stretching out your loving arms that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may serve all those in need of your healing and wholeness; for the honor of your Name. Amen.

Heavenly Father, giver of life and health: Give your power of healing to all doctors and nurses; protect all healthcare professionals against infection; comfort them when discouraged or sorrowful; and strengthen them by your life-giving Spirit, that by their ministries the health of the community may be promoted; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Doctors: William Rambo, Rachel & Alex Pertile, Tim Close, Stuart Smith, Michael Barker, Bill Robinson, Greg Black. Eric Horst, Ted Belsches, Stephanie Paolini, Andrew Mastanduono, and Bill Keane.

Nurses: Katie Gibson, Heather Overdyke, Norman & Sicily Loranger, Anna Rock Kirkland, Betsy Williamson, and Sara Williamson.

Pharmacists: Julian Horst, Lisa Sherrer Fisher, and Madelon Kneece.

Administrators: Davis Bourne, Diane Clarkson, Caroline Mulof, Eileen Schell, Sara Sterne, and Rebecca Dillard.

 

 

A message from the Director of Family Ministries

By Maggie Mallette
Director of Family Ministries

       Yesterday late, I went to a friend’s apartment to drop off a key in case of the unlikely event that my roommate and I both end up deciding to leave town and we need someone to take care of the cat. I sat in my car and she stood outside of my driver-side window, six feet away. We talked for a little while about how we are feeling through all of the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic; she is one of a handful of people I’ve seen in person (other than my roommate) in the past two and a half weeks.

         That’s been hard! At St. John’s we are a family-focused, relational people, and our community has been a bulwark against those societal, natural, and larger-than-ourselves catastrophes that take place both within and outside of our church family. I’m new-ish here, but even for me, to have the physical meeting place and its physical meetings taken away has been difficult. We have found new ways to see each other, have been intentional about checking in on one another, and have continued our kingdom work, certainly. Even still, I miss the children, youth, and families at St. John’s. Zoom meetings have, undoubtedly, brightened my spirits in these unfamiliar times, but they are no replacement for those good things we share when we gather in person.

        I’m sure you understand when I say that to see this friend in her apartment’s parking lot was a treat. Someone new with whom I could commiserate; someone who is also several states away from her family. And in person. It was a luxury. We spoke openly about how we are feeling. We’re both just—sick of it. That was the best we could do for emotions. But then we started to discuss how the thing of coronavirus feels.

        “My mom was saying that Coronavirus feels like a perpetual Thursday. You’ve worked hard through the entire week, and you know the weekend is almost there, but it’s not there yet. But constant.”

        “It kind of feels like in the summer when you’re gearing up for the next big event, but there’s nothing going on that week, so you don’t know if you should be twiddling your thumbs for the present or doing work that isn’t yet necessary to prep for the next big thing.” (The friend is also a youth leader.)

        “It feels like senior year, finishing work on your thesis, or other classes you don’t want to be in. Like—I’ll take the grade I deserve; I just want to be done with it.”

        Before dropping off the key, I’d been on the phone with my dad and I asked him if this event is like anything through which he’d lived. He told me that in some ways it was reminiscent of the aftermath of 9/11, but not quite the same. He said that Ebola was scary, and people talked about it, but it wasn’t quite like this. While both of these happened in my lifetime, I’m too young to remember much of 9/11, and I was too much a high school junior to understand Ebola outside of the context of my personal self.

        On the way home from the key drop-off, I thought about these conversations a little more. The only words I have for what we’re handling right now are comparisons, similes. Coronavirus is like this; self-isolation is like that. Some of you parents may be teaching on similes and metaphors right now. This whole thing is too big to describe with concrete terms, too unknown, too unknowable. I have taken in more data in the past two and a half weeks than I have in the entire rest of my life—these statistics do not make the beast of coronavirus feel more knowable to me. I know that it is bad, simply put. I know that it has been hugely disruptive, and for many thousands of other people, it has been much more disruptive than it has been for me. I don’t have young children who have been suddenly taken out of school; my job can be performed from home, for the most part; and none of my loved ones have gotten sick. I am one of the lucky ones. Beyond these facts, though, coronavirus as an event is too big for me to comprehend. It sometimes startles me when I remember.

        And here we are, bearing down on Holy Week. That is an event that is, also, often too big for me to comprehend. Tonight, I watched a video on Zoom with our children—an eleven minute Holy Week story, from Palm Sunday through crucifixion. We paused before Easter to save something for next week’s Wednesday night. Holy Week tells the story of a man, fully divine and fully human, giving his life for ours. He enters Jerusalem triumphantly to celebrate the Passover, has dinner and prays with his friends, is betrayed, and is crucified on a cross. When the story is laid out that way, it’s linear and tidy. But we have learned our entire Christian lives that the story is neither linear nor tidy, and much of it is too big for us to know or to comprehend. To top it all off, the man who has laid down his life for our sins has spoken to us in similes, allegories, and parables during his entire preaching life.

        The kindergarteners, first graders, and second graders at St. John’s have been learning about parables in Sunday School this semester; they were about halfway through a group of twelve parables before we were interrupted by this pandemic. Much of what Jesus teaches us about the Kingdom of Heaven, his father in heaven, and our moral duties comes from similes and metaphors. The children of St. John’s have memorized the book Found, which is a children’s book based on Psalm 23; we read it at Children’s Chapel every Sunday. They can tell you from memory that “God is my shepherd. And I am his little lamb.” As young as three years old, they know that this Psalm is referring to a love bigger than we can understand, so we have been given this imagery to help us along. This past Thursday, when I read “Even when I walk through the dark, scary, lonely places, I won’t be afraid. Because my shepherd knows where I am,” to my camera, I shivered a little bit. The place we find ourselves now, largely, can be dark, scary, and lonely. We are without our friends and neighbors—lonely. We are distancing to keep ourselves and our loved ones well—scary. These combined—often dark.

        I needed a children’s version of Psalm 23—which is already put in terms that were meant to be easier for me to understand—to remind me that “my Shepherd knows where I am. He is here with me. He keeps me safe. He rescues me. He makes me strong and brave.” I needed this metaphor to remind me that the impossible big-ness of the pandemic we are facing today is nothing compared to the big-ness of a God who loves us, shepherds us, redeems us, and has a plan for us.

        As we enter Holy Week in the next few days, I invite you to embrace the mystery and the metaphor with me. It is not easy for me to lack exact, succinct words for a situation. I’d like to be able to control the scope of what we are seeing one another through, to be able to just take a good look at it, end to end. I know that that is impossible. But we can take comfort in knowing that it would also be impossible to look at our God end to end. We cannot make total sense of His story, but we can join in the mystery and the wonder. We can join with the women we will soon encounter at the tomb, in their confusion, mystery, and wonder. We can work with one another to understand that this is big, too big, but that, as the children of St. John’s will tell you,

“Wherever I go I know…

God’s Never Stopping

Never Giving Up

Unbreaking

Always and Forever Love

will go, too!”

 

St. John’s parish office is closed - Clergy and staff working safely at home

The City of Columbia has issued a stay at home ordinance closing non-essential city business and directing citizens to stay home except for the purposes of working at or conducting business with an essential service business provider. St. John’s is following this ordinance to protect the welfare of our clergy, staff, parish members and vendors by closing the office. Clergy and staff are working from home. Our finance team and sextons will continue to physically be onsite twice a week, briefly, to collect mail, make deposits, clean, and work with facility contractors. Clergy and staff can be reached by email or by calling the office at 803.799.4767 + their phone extension. Your voicemails are delivered to staff via email – so we’ll never miss your call – even though we are working remotely. Connect with Staff 

A video message from our Senior Warden

Watch this video from our Senior Warden Michael Burkett
Click HERE

Jesus, Savior, Pilot me, by Dr. Michael Brown - Watch Video

I was introduced to hymn "Jesus, Savior, Pilot me" during my senior year of college; I found the text a source of solace at a time in which I was unsure of what my post-graduation plans would be. It has continued to be a favorite hymn of mine ever since. As we find ourselves facing uncertain and difficult moments in the coming weeks and months, may we all remember to lean on the one who can and will guide us through the swift and varied changes of the world.

-Dr. Michael Brown, Director of Music Ministry

Watch the video HERE

A Message from the Rev. Nicholas Beasley

Dear People of St. John's, 

By now, we are getting used to a strange new world, or we are getting really tired of it. I’ve felt great worry at times about people I love and changes that may come. Yet I'm thankful for some of the gifts of this time. My family has been together so much more than usual. I have had time for yard work. My neighbors, from an appropriate distance, have been making new connections. I'm thankful to see the many sacrifices we are making for each other. We may learn things in this time that will shape a better future.

I listened to June Carter Cash the other night as I washed the dishes, singing Keep on the Sunny Side of Life, recorded by the Carter Family in 1929. June had the terrible fortune, of course, to marry Johnny Cash, to live with a man of volcanic creativity and compulsion who upended her life more than once. That old song became her own, a theme song for a challenging life that might apply to our days:
 
Tho' the storm in its fury break today,
Crushing hopes that we cherished so dear,
Storm and cloud will in time pass away,
The sun again will shine bright and clear.
 
Let us greet with a song of hope each day,
Tho' the moments be cloudy or fair;
Let us trust in our Savior always,
Who keepeth everyone in His care.

We trust that this storm will pass, that God’s good will cannot fail, that the Sun of Righteousness will shine and shine. Be in touch if you need your church family and know that you are loved.

+Nicholas

St. John's Virtual School - Email Nicholas to Sign Up!

Got some time on your hands? Miss our opportunities to learn and grow in the faith together?  St. John’s is offering adult formation through a subscription to our own ChurchNext School. We are offering the two courses below to get started. Our subscription gives us room for 30 students. The courses are self-guided, online video presentations with opportunities for reflection. They take about 45 minutes to complete. Nicholas will schedule Zoom video conference conversations for participants. Email Nicholas (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) if you would like to be signed up for one of them. He’ll enter you into the system, and you’ll receive an invitation by email.

Why Suffering? Taught by Ian Markham
Few questions have drawn people closer to God and pushed people farther away than this one: Why Suffering? The Christian faith offers many responses, but the Dean of Virginia Theological Seminary, Ian Markham, really helps frame these responses in a thoughtful and reasoned way. His four video presentations are entitled: Origins, Suffering and the Bible, Suffering and Blessing, and Coping with Suffering. This course offers hope and encouragement for those who are struggling over this perennial mystery

Mr. Rogers’ Simple Faith
Taught by Westina Matthews
Simple, patient, and calm
. It's not just the recipe for a hit children's show, but for the spiritual life as well. These concepts are at the core of this course and unpacked by Westina Matthews in four video presentations entitled: Remembering Mr. Rogers, Following the Teachings of Jesus, Simple and Deep, and Making a Difference. This course is ideal for those seeking to deepen their spirituality by exploring these foundational Christian concepts.

Children's Chapel for Sunday, March 29

St. John's Families (and others):

Here is Children's Chapel for Sunday, April 5. Like last week, there is an opportunity for your children to light a candle at the beginning. Mine is lit for them, but if you would like to help them light one in your house, please do!

Feel free to share this video.

I am thankful for our sacred community and for the use of technology to gather us during these times!

Wednesday Evening Prayer Devotional, March 18, by the Rev. Scott Fleischer

By the Scott Fleischer
Associate Rector

A few days ago, a friend of mine posted an interesting message on Facebook. He asked, “What stage of grief are you in? (shock & denial, anger, bargaining, depression, or acceptance?)” We usually think about grief in terms of losing someone through death. But there are many other losses that we grieve in life.

The pandemic of the corona virus has turned our lives up-side down. You may have experienced multiple losses in the last week: the loss of structure and normalcy, the loss of a sense of freedom to do and go where you want, the loss of your social life, the loss of Holy Communion and the fellowship of others believers, the loss of income, the loss of your peace of mind.

How do we cope with so many losses? One or two at a time are manageable, but coping with several all at once feels over-whelming. How are we to live this new life?

In 605 B.C., many of the citizens of Jerusalem were captured and taken to live in Babylon. This place was completely foreign to the people of Judah. They didn’t know the language or the customs. They didn’t know if their exile was temporary or permanent.

They had two options: to withdraw or to engage. The first option happens when we get stuck in our grief- we’re in denial, we’re angry, or we feel hopelessly depressed. The second option comes with acceptance- we finds ways to embrace our new normal. Life may be different, but we’re willing to keep on living it, in spite of our changing circumstances.

In Jeremiah, chapter 29, the prophet sends a letter to the elders of the exiles. Through it, the Lord explains how they are to live faithfully during this difficult, confusing season: “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare’” (Jer. 29:4-7).

When we consider what this means for us, we can’t take these words too literally. Most of these activities: building houses, getting married and arranging marriages- are all things which will probably have to be put on hold in our circumstances- all except for planting gardens. You can still plant gardens! Even though we may not be able to relate to the specifics, the general message is still very applicable. We should “seek the welfare of the city.” Basically, we are to make the best of our situations and to engage in our present circumstances.

Now, engaging in your circumstances may not be what you want to do. Everything within us screams, “This isn’t fair! This is painful! Make it stop!” But we have to be realistic and realize that may not happen for a very long time. The quarantine may last for a long time, and the restrictions may become even tighter. If we’re willing to accept that, then we need to find ways to live faithfully, while we’re living in exile.

Our natural response to discomfort is to remove ourselves from it. We want to escape: to run away or to withdraw. This was probably why God commanded the Jews to stay put, because he knew that they wanted to leave. Once we realize that there is no getting out of this, we’ll be able to consider how we should live faithfully in exile by being an active participant.

This season of exile can be a time for spiritual renewal. How often have you complained or lamented that you were too busy to read your Bible or pray? Now that our schedules have been freed up, we have ample time for spiritual growth. We may even complain that we have too much time now, and that we’re bored. If we’re not doing that, then I’m sure that our children are! But when we learn how to slow down and live in a new rhythm, we may just discover that our lives are fuller and richer than ever before!

I don’t mean to downplay the difficulties that many people may be experiencing. This is certainly much different than an extended vacation. It may be very painful for many of us. Especially for those who have become infected, and for those who have already lost loved ones. The apostle Paul learned to seek Jesus in the good times and in the bad times. That’s because he realized that when changes abound and life is uncertain, Jesus will always be there for us. He writes, “… I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11–13).

In times of exile there is so much we cannot understand. But we know that God’s ways are higher than ours. Our suffering then, is an opportunity to release our tight grip on “the way life should be” and yield control to God. As Christ submitted to the Father, becoming “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8), so we are to humbly submit to the Father in our time of need. There is incredible peace in realizing that he is Lord over every circumstance of our lives. If we can trust him with our welfare, we can experience that peace.

People are always watching us. And how we respond during this exile reflects the true state of our hearts. We can grumble and demand our rights, but such attitudes place obstacles in the way of helping others see Jesus clearly.

By seeking Christ during hard seasons and submitting to him anyway—even though we don’t understand his ways—we live radically different than the world does. We live in hope. We live as lights in a dark land. And maybe, just maybe, when we faithfully shine our lights, we’ll help others to see the path before them- the path that leads to ever-lasting life.