From Deacon Tom …

3/26/2020

My position at St. Cloud Hospital as an “Intern Chaplain” has changed because of the Covid-19 virus.

For the past two weeks all Clinical Pastoral education interns (Students) have been told we are not essential personnel and as such we are not allowed in the hospital due to our exposure to the virus. That status changed yesterday in that we were deemed by hospital administration as essential, however my supervisor left it up to me/us (students) if was want to return to the hospital or pursue our clinical hours in another way. 

This is why I am writing to you now. I have decided to not expose myself needlessly to the hospital 3 to 4 days a week and instead am being allowed to make phone or computer contact with members of my congregation (St. John’s) and offer pastoral/chaplaincy care in that capacity.

That means I will be cold calling all of you on a regular basis to check in and see how you are doing. You of course can decide to share how things are going with me or not.  You also can move up the list and have a pastoral conservation sooner by letting me know you want this.

I also have the ability to see you face to face via Zoom which the church has purchased and I have access to. You would need to go to www.zoom.com and download the free zoom software from their website.

Anything discussed with me would be confidential unless you tell me otherwise.

Please know that as always you are welcome to talk to Deacon Ham if you are more comfortable talking with him. 

I look forward to serving you and being a listening presence in this time or change.

Peace,
Deacon Tom Roy

badge2206@gmail.com

From Deacon George …

“Fasting From Public Worship”
3/19/2020

It’s not house arrest, I tell myself. Although I commit to follow the “critical guidelines,” one of them – stay at home if you are feeling ill – has now morphed into stay at home, period. Thank you, God for my pretty good health; please help me keep it that way.

Being over 70, I am labeled “particularly susceptible to developing serious complications from the COVID-19 virus.” I respect that, and I will honor it by staying put. I suppose it is getting easier, in the sense that just about everything I would go out for is about to be, or already is, closed.

The last couple days, I am seeing a lot more people in my very friendly neighborhood out walking their dogs, or just out walking. We wave or nod, but we just keep walking. Yesterday, I stopped to say hello to a couple who were walking with their two daughters on their bikes and carrying a baby. An entire family out for a walk on a marginally nice day. We maintained our perfunctory six foot distance. “We just had to get out of the house,” she said. “I know,” I said.

When we announced the suspension of activities at St. John’s Church last week, we used the term “Lenten fast of public worship” and we said that this is a sign of our love for each other and our neighbors, and that each of us will be called to make changes, adjustments and difficult decisions. Before you fall into the rut that I am trying to climb out of, please know that our current situation is not house arrest. It is an essential component in helping ourselves, our neighbors and our country drastically reduce the spread of a horrific pandemic. And, it can be – no, it will be – an opportunity for us to strengthen our faith.

For example, I’m taking my homebound time to catch up on some reading, as I finish an 827-page tome, Underworld, by Don DeLillo. Near the end, he writes, “Sometimes faith needs a sign. There are times when you want to stop working at faith and just be washed in a blowing wind that tells you everything.” I submit that while we must not stop working at faith, we can still be washed in that wind.

Our Governor has today suggested that, as we huddle via social media and other virtual communication to get ourselves through this historic pandemic, we should refrain from grousing about it (was I grousing?) and, instead, share positive stories and outcomes. I am so glad to report that your faith leaders at St. John’s Church are preparing the way for us to do exactly that.

Over the coming days, you can expect to hear about several online opportunities to participate in meetings, small groups, youth and adult formation, bible study and I hope, even Sunday Eucharist together, via a live interactive online gathering called Zoom, and by streaming video at our website. So, let us continue to share the greatest story of all – the story of Jesus, and the greatest outcome of all – his resurrection and promise that we are saved from sin and have life in Him.

Have a Blessed Week!
Deacon George


Suspension to Protect Wellbeing

On Friday March 13, the St. John’s vestry  voted to suspend worship services and normal parish operations until further notice due to concerns related to the coronavirus. Until further notice, our Sunday 10am Eucharist service and all meetings and events are suspended, including all services and events normally conducted by our on-site faith community partners and service groups.

As we practice this Lenten fast of public worship, this sign of our love for each other and our neighbors, each of us will be called to make changes, adjustments and difficult decisions. This decision was not an easy one, but it is something for which our ECMN Bishop Prior and our Presiding Bishop Curry have expressed their full support. St. Johns’ leadership is called to protect the health and wellbeing of our entire faith community, particularly the most vulnerable among us.

For now, all worship services, meetings and events will be suspended. Because we are committed to being a house of worship for you and for everyone, we offer these links for you to participate worship and prayer :

You can attend an online Episcopalian church services (audio only or audio/video). Click on the links below for the different services. If you are having problems, please call the office and leave a message for Alexis and she will help you get to virtual church.

Going forward, we will provide additional resources for virtual worship and online meeting or teleconferencing so we can continue the business of the Church during this interim.

We will reassess conditions we hope to reopen soon. We are making decisions one day at a time, and we will approach each decision with the health of our community as our foremost priority.

The one thing that we know for sure is that God’s love is stronger, deeper and more life-giving than anything else that comes our way. The Psalmist reminds us that our help comes from the Lord, and that is what we cling to as we make our way through the world.

We encourage you to check your email, our website and our Facebook page for updated information. We also encourage you to check on your friends and neighbors, to be kind and generous of spirit and to rest in the assurances of God’s grace. 

Blessings to you all,

Your Vestry, Sr. and Jr. Wardens and Resident Clergy 

 

Prayer during a Pandemic

(author unknown)

May we, who are merely inconvenienced, remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we, who have no risk factors, remember those most vulnerable.

May we, who have the luxury of working from home, remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.

May we, who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close, remember those who have no options.

May we, who have to cancel our trips, remember those who have no safe place to go.

May we, who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market, remember those who have no margin at all.

May we, who settle in for a quarantine at home, remember those who have no home at all.

As fear grips our country, may we instead choose faith, hope, and love.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, help us find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.

Amen

Source: Mary Magdeline First Apostle Church of St. Cloud MN

Lent

The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 26,  at 7 p.m. with The Proper Liturgy for Ash Wednesday , continues for six and a half weeks and climaxes on Easter Day.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry explains it, in part, like this:

“Lent has two quite remarkable bookends. On Ash Wednesday, we are reminded that we are dust and that God loves us even in our dustiness. At the end of this season, we will celebrate the power that God’s love has to transform this world.”

I love the “bookends” metaphor. Picture a bookshelf with The Book of Ash Wednesday at one end and The Book of Easter Day at the other end. At that rate of a book a day, there would be 45 other books on that Lenten shelf. What are all those other books about? Should we be reading them? What if we don’t read them?

Over centuries, Christians have observed Lent as a season of penitence and fasting in preparation for Easter. The days of Lent have offered us a time to be on a journey or a pilgrimage, both physically and in our minds and our hearts.

More recently, we have revisited the season’s origin as a final preparation of adult candidates for baptism, hence a time for all of us “to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” (Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, p. 265).

So, how can we at St. John’s Episcopal Church prepare ourselves and become immersed in the sojourn and journey of this Lenten season? There are literally hundreds of ways available to us, in the form of Lenten devotionals, local events, online blogs and podcasts, theatrical performances, and books by folks like Cynthia Borgeault, Richard Rohr, Thomas Keating and others. Discovering the plethora of Lenten preparation material can be a sojourn/journey in itself!

This Lent at St. John’s Episcopal Church, our Adult Formation committee has scheduled several Lenten-themed forums for each of the Sundays in Lent, at 9:00 a.m., preceding our worship services:

March 1: Fasting of the mind and heart, about using meditation during Lent

March 8: Meditation in community

March 15: The history of Saint John’s Church

March 22: Lenten fasting from cyberbullying

 

Deacon George

Epiphany Season

Epiphany means “manifestation” or “revelation” or “appearing”. It makes sense that Epiphany season comes right after Christmas. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus; Epiphany is about the spread of the good news to the wider world.

Epiphany Season lasts four to nine weeks, from the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6 (It officially ends the “twelve days of Christmas” from which we get that carol “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…”) through the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The length of the season varies according to the date of Easter. The gospel stories of this season describe various events that manifest the divinity of Jesus. The coming of the Magi is celebrated on the Epiphany. The Baptism of our Lord is observed on the Sunday after Epiphany. The gospels for the other Sundays of the Epiphany season describe the wedding at Cana, the calling of the disciples, and various miracles and teachings of Jesus. The Last Sunday after the Epiphany is always devoted to the Transfiguration. Jesus’ identity as the Son of God is dramatically revealed in the Transfiguration gospel, as well as the gospel of the baptism of Christ. We are called to respond to Christ in faith through the showings of his divinity recorded in the gospels of the Epiphany season.