From the Pulpit - Sermons

The Greatest Love Song Written

light overcomes the dark

Christmas 1  |  John 1:1-18

Welcome, hardy Vermont souls, to our last service for 2017. I wish all of us, individually and collectively, a rewarding and fulfilling 2018, though I suspect it’s going to require some work on all our parts to get there.

We stand (figuratively) here on the 31st of December at the threshold of endings and beginnings, ready (or not) to launch ourselves into January; that month named after the Roman two-faced god, Janus— god of doorways and beginnings; one face carefully eyeing the past, the other peering into the future. We also celebrate in our northern clime the gradual return of light, as our shortest winter days are now behind us and we now have about 9 hours of daylight. That’s enough cause for celebration in itself.

I’d like to focus a bit on the new beginnings described in today’s gospel; those famous lines from The Prologue of John…

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November's Sermons

A pre-Advent special: Fr. Bob Stuhlmann's sermons from the past five weeks:

October 29 - A Partner in the Dance [Matthew 22:34-46]

November 5 - All Saint's  [Matthew 5:1-12]

November 12 - Be Prepared  [Matthew 25:1-13]

November 19 -  Who(se) are You?   [Matthew 25:14-30]

November 26 -  Whenever you looked into their eyes...   [Matthew 25:31-46]

 


 

Susan

Rector's Message - Rev. Susan B Taylor

Holy Pregnancy

The Visitation

I’m yearning right now. Maybe you are too. I want with all my heart to wake-up and find a world in which peace among all God’s creation is a reality. That’s my Christmas Day wish. That’s all I want for Christmas!

Okay, so I know it must be true that I’ve grown up some since my list writing during the pre-Christmas season unbeknownst to me at the time as Advent. As a child I could barely fall asleep with excitement and anticipation of that Christmas morning feel! What would be waiting for me under the tree? It’s no longer what, but who I want. I want Jesus.

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CREDO = I give my heart to… (part two)

 

labyrinth“Take a buffer day after returning from CREDO,” we were told. After a fifteen hour circuitous journey home, compliments of American Airlines, involving reticketing, new changeovers, increased layovers, mechanical problems and waiting for crew to materialize, well… I took the faculty’s advice. Stepping into a labyrinth is a vastly different faith-filled journey, unlike the series of mazes and impediments through which I had to navigate at the airports. As one clergy friend posted to my Facebook travel saga, “Once into the maw of the airport, one surrenders all autonomy.” Well I may not so easily surrender my autonomy to the airport ‘gods’ but I’m not convinced I find it any easier to surrender my will to God. How do I find ways to be still long enough to hear God’s desires?

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SteveWith Gladness and Singleness of Heart - Steven Eubanks

Musings from Mary

Rev. Susan & PatI write this as I sit in my new recliner gifted to me by Susan and Jim Taylor as they make their move from the St. John’s Rectory to their new home in Maine. Susan’s held her last service, where we celebrated the Transfiguration of Jesus, during which God said of Jesus, “This is my Son, or whom I am well pleased, listen to him.” We all wish them the best as they embark on their new journey.

In the meantime, we here at St. John’s also are heading on a new journey, one of reflection and self-discovery. We have an opportunity to” “listen to Jesus” by remembering his lessons of loving everyone and treating all people with love and respect. We are entering the season of Lent where we can look into ourselves and discern just what it is we want in a new spiritual leader and what our roles are going to be in that process. The Vestry hopes to get the participation of the entire Parish in this endeavor.

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A Lenten observation

"The Franciscan Richard Rohr once observed that most people assume that Jesus, because of his prophetic message, was killed by evil men. However, said Rohr, those responsible for Jesus' death were not evil. They were the people of the establishment, protecting what they had established. They would have considered themselves good people, doing what was best for society. They were merely conventional people, like you and me. Most conventional people resist accepting anything new and different from what makes them feel safe and comfortable."

Louis M. Savary. Teilhard De Chardin-The Divine Milieu Explained: A Spirituality for the 21st Century 


From the other pew...

Ashes to go....

Ashes to goStanding out next to the entrance of Shaw's, next to a low table and wooden cross from the Canterbury Room... right next to what looks to be the folded components of a Salvation Army red kettle stand, wondering if it's easier for people to pitch donations into a red kettle than it is to receive ashes...

A curious teen on his way out of Shaw's with his mother, changes his path, walks confidently up to me decked out in cassock and surplice and says, "What's this all about?" After a brief and pleasant exchange about ashes, Ash Wednesday and Lent, he thanks me for my time and continues on his way.

A smartly-dressed middle-aged woman on her way into the store, glances at the sign, smiles and walks over. After she and I discuss how she's more comfortable assisting her church in preparations for events than in attending services, she eagerly accepts the offering of ashes and says she wishes her mother was with her now as her mother was going to be unable to attend Ash Wednesday services at her own church. She then decides that rather to go in to Shaw's immediately, that she would instead drive back to her mother and "share" her ashes with her. After checking with me to make sure there were sufficient ashes on her forehead and gratefully accepting the abundance of a "second helping", she strides off with purpose to share this sacrament back home.

A tall aged man, proudly wearing the billed cap of a Viet Nam veteran, approaches me from some twenty feet away saying, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." After complimenting him on his knowledge of the observance, we share sacred time together as he tells me of his youth in the Episcopal Church, his consideration of a vocation, and his choice rather to enter the Air Force. He tells me of his profound personal faith, in his guardian angel who not only saw him through the war, but two car accidents which totaled both cars but left him with only a small scar on the back of one hand. He tells me about the people he meets making deliveries to hospitals and nursing homes-- people facing doubt, uncertainty, fear and their own mortality. He tells me of the comfort he has provided them in offering them simple bead crosses and the promise that Jesus' love is always with them, regardless how desperate their situation. I offer him ashes, presuming he will accept because of his familiarity with them. He defers. He tells me that Jesus has forgiven him so many sins over his lifetime.... and yet, I wonder in his refusal of ashes if perhaps he's still unable to forgive himself. I express thanks to him for being a guardian angel to so many in his own right, and we wish each other peace and a wave as he goes his way.

"Almighty and merciful God, you hate nothing you have made, and forgive the sins of all who are penitent; create in us new and contrite hearts, so that when we turn to you and confess our sins and acknowledge our need, we may receive your full and perfect forgiveness, through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen. "

Daily Life as a Franciscan

Representing the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedienceWhen St. Francis encouraged the formation of the Third Order he recognized that many are called to serve God in the spirit of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience in everyday life (rather than in a literal acceptance of these principles as in the vows of the Brothers and Sisters of the First and Second Orders). The Rule of The Third Order is intended to enable the duties and conditions of daily living to be carried out in this spirit.
- Living with the Principles of the Order, Day Four

Over the past two months I’ve shared a bit about my journey so far in my vocation as a Franciscan, and why I believe Francis of Assisi’s path in living the Gospel has relevance today. This month I’d like to share a bit of what this Franciscan path translates to in my daily life and practice.

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JaneDo You Hear What I Hear?  - Jane Eubanks

Defining Moments

What are the defining moments of a life?  Turning points in your journey which have eventually brought you to where you are today.   Events with such a powerful influence that it almost seems as though there isn’t a choice as to where you are going next.  We’ve all had these moments.  Flashes of intuition,  opportunities provided,  doors opened or slammed shut, causing you to veer off from a planned path into something quite different,  and maybe better than you could have imagined.  Possibly even something as dramatic as tongues of flame,  spontaneously speaking in a language you don’t know, or hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit telling you to move in a certain direction.   

I’ve had several musical experiences which have heavily influenced my life.

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Hymnals

After a workshop on Hymnody and Hymnals I started to pay attention to the music within the covers of many hymnals. Although, when you compare different pages in a hymnal, much of the music looks the same as every other page, there is a large variety of styles, eras, and words to be found, including ancient chant, Renaissance dance music, German chorales, Folk music from various cultures, and so much more. The age of the music ranges from the 8th century to mid 20th century. Some was directly written for the church, but a lot of it is adapted from the secular music of its day. At the bottom of the page of each hymn is a lot of information about it, and sometimes indications of how to perform it.

Just for fun, let’s examine the hymns we sang for Easter Sunday. Hymn # 205 “Good Christians All” is a fun one to sing because basically it’s a dance tune. Not only is it a dance tune, but specifically it’s a Renaissance dance tune of the type known as a Galliard. A Galliard is a vigorous, leaping dance, full of off beat twists, meant in part for the men dancers to display their abilities in showy kicks, jumps and turns. Not that the women were just standing around admiring their partners, they too danced strenuously. Dancing the Galliard is a good aerobic exercise. The dance music of the Renaissance is, in general, known for syncopated rhythms and quick turns of phrases. Fun. Naturally, for singing in a church, the speed is slowed down some, but the feel of the music stays true to its roots and after singing it, the congregation feels joyfully uplifted. If you look at the bottom of the page you find a small instruction to sing the Alleluias in harmony if you wish; the person who wrote the words is listed; and the source of the music is listed, as well as the name of the tune and the composer if known. In the case of hymn #205 the words are late 19th or early 20th century, but the music is late 16th century, right at the height of the Renaissance Dance Era.

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The Messenger

The Messenger is the monthly parish newsletter. Previous editions may be found below. Click on the year to view the available editions.

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Facebook

For all of you Facebook fans, there is now a St. John's Facebook page. Calendar events and E-Tree announcements will be cross-posted there as well as this website.

E-Tree

The E-Tree is the new e-mail distribution list for the parish. Any parishioner wishing to subscribe to the E-Tree should send a note requesting such to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. All messages distributed via the E-Tree will be church related and reviewed by church staff prior to release. All e-mail addresses subscribed to the E-Tree will be kept confidential.

Annual Reports

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