St. John's Book Group
○ February 28th
○ March 1st
March 2nd - 5th
"Agnes of God"
To the Glory of God and for the Common Good, we make God's love known now and for generations to come through worship and service to all.
Dear Friends in Christ,
"Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return." These words echo to us from Genesis after the fall of Adam and Eve and ring in our ears at Ash Wednesday when we come forward to have ashes placed upon our foreheads in the shape of a cross. We remember our mortality, and in our naked awareness, we see more clearly God's gracious gift of life. In Jesus' resurrection, God gives us a life more potent than death. He secures us to himself, so that in him we may share his eternal life.
People sometimes stay away from Ash Wednesday. They fear it being depressing. But it has the power to be quite the opposite-that is, freeing and invigorating. On Ash Wednesday we don't have to pretend that we are invincible. We don't have to deny death or the aging and weakening of our bodies. We don't have to say that we've got it all together and we're in control. Ash Wednesday gives us radical permission to be honest. We do all die and death is part of being human. We are made of dust and we will all return to dust. Accomplishments and acquisitions turn to dust with us. In the face of death we are all equal: we each will lay down this one life. But the greater truth stops this from being depressing. God's truth is that we are loved and valued and considered precious in God's sight. He who has created us, loved us, redeemed us, gives us lasting and eternal life through our relationship with him in Jesus his son.
Ash Wednesday illumines this truth in our lives and empowers us to make new choices, to reclaim values, to readjust loyalties, to realign our lives with our hearts. This is invigorating, life-giving. In the world people hire life coaches for this. But God gives us Ash Wednesday.
At St. John's our Ash Wednesday services will be at 7:30am in the Chapel, at 12:15pm in the Church, and at 7:00pm in the Church with full choir.
Ash Wednesday also begins our season of Lent - traditionally a time of preparation for the celebration of Easter. In the early Church, people wishing to be baptized would prepare for as much as three years. In the final weeks before baptism they would prepare more intensively with fasting and prayer. The Church community would join with them in support, and so also prepare for the renewal of baptism's grace at the celebration of the Resurrection at Easter. We have adults and children who wish to be baptized at Easter. Similarly, our Senior Youth group has been preparing for almost two years to renew their baptismal vows at Confirmation, and they will help lead us in Lenten preparation as they prepare more intensively for their Confirmation in Eastertide, on May 7th at the Cathedral. As a Church community we join with them in this season of preparation, making our hearts ready to receive God's grace and life again at Easter.
Preparing hearts can take many forms. The old favorites are: fasting, almsgiving, prayer and study. Finding a combination that makes sense for our life and circumstances is part of the freedom and responsibility given in the Episcopal Church. Some may choose fasting from a food, others from an activity (abstaining from Facebook goes in and out of fashion), others from a habit or behavior they like to have more freedom from. Almsgiving similarly can take so many forms. Prayer and study can be done alone or in groups. At St. John's there are book groups available at many different times and days and on many different subjects. Please see if any of them speak to you. There are many different ways to prepare; the important thing is not exactly what we choose so much as our intention and offering to God our Lenten practice. This is a symbol of our desire to become closer to him.
Making offerings of our hearts isn't just for Lent, of course. It's for every day all year through, and it is an essential part of our weekly Eucharist. At the entrance of our church is a table of oblation - of offering. Bread and wine are there as our collective offering to God. They are symbols of our life - the food by which we subsist, and the fruit of our labor. As symbols we offer them as a means of offering our whole lives to God. This Lent, consider the offerings of your heart as you pass by the table, and silently add them to the bread and wine. Also in Lent, we'll bring the offerings of food for those in need up to the altar with the bread and wine as part of our offering of whole hearts and compassion. And a new collection plate will be on the table with paper slips to write down the prayer intentions you might particularly want to offer, and I will read them silently at the altar as part of our Eucharistic offering. And of course the offering of our financial resources is also brought with the bread and wine, a meaningful part of our offering of our whole lives.
To enhance our sense of making an offering at God's altar together, we'll return to our eastward facing worship of Advent. Priest and people will all face one direction together to make our offering humbly before God. As we face East, toward the hope of Resurrection, our Promised Land, we will be people on the move. Lent reminds us we are pilgrims heading home - returning not just to dust, but to God's heart and home.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane
The Bishop's letter is reprinted from Volume 19 No. 3 of the DioLog...
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
"And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." John 12:32
The last several months have witnessed a period of upheaval and political conflict in our nation such as I have not seen since the height of the Vietnam War. Many people are angry and bitterly opposed to one another, and some are finding it hard to listen to one another and to discover common values and aspirations. We are in danger of making one another aliens and strangers in our own land.
In this context, I call you to affirm that God loves us all and that we are all members of a single human family. Moreover, our Savior Jesus Christ died for each one of us. The Episcopal Church in Maine will continue to be open to all persons without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, sexual identity, or political party. We will continue to pray for the welfare of all, including our elected leaders. We will continue to exercise radical hospitality and inclusive participation in all aspects of church life. We will "respect the dignity of every human being."
At the same time, as followers of Jesus, we will continue to preach the Good News of God in Christ and to "seek and serve Christ in all persons." Our ministries with the poor, the sick, the stranger, and the alien have not and will not change. I will continue to speak out on issues of related to immigration, refugees, poverty, and war and peace. The recent decisions of the new administration regarding immigration have made some of this work more urgent, but it is work we know well and will continue to do. I invite you, no matter your politics, to invest yourself in your local communities and to work with other Episcopalians through our Maine Episcopal Network for Justice. If you haven't been involved, now is a good time to jump in.
We will also continue to work with other churches and members of other faiths to create secure communities where all are safe and all have the opportunity to grow and prosper. Our good relationships with the Jewish and Muslim communities are sources of strength, and we will remain faithful partners with them.
The particular opportunity we have before us may be the chance to participate in the development of new understandings between people who have different visions for our country's future. We might well host - first in our congregations and then in our communities - conversations about important community issues, seeking to learn from each other how and why we differ and what hopes we might share. Episcopalians have always been able to come together at the Lord's table across difference, and now might be a time to practice this particular gift together.
At the core of our current struggles is fear: fear of change, fear of loss, fear of the other. None of us is untouched by the changes of the last 40 years. All of us have experienced the loss of something we cherished. Jesus' most frequent admonition was, "Fear not." Fear not. God is with you. Our hope is not simply in what we can create as individuals or as a nation. Our hope is in God, who loves us and cares for us. In all that we do we need to turn to our God, to trust in God's presence with us, and to share God's love with others. "Perfect love casts out fear." 1 John 4:18
I write to you with a deep sense of thanksgiving for your faithfulness and for the work you do on behalf of Christ. I know you will make conscientious, faith-based choices and will live into your convictions, even at the risk of misunderstanding. I invite you to trust that you are not alone. I walk with you. And Jesus walks with you. We must remember that Christ meets us in our weakness. It is on the cross that Jesus overcomes death and sets us free to live new lives. It is in that new life that we now walk together.
The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane
Bishop of Maine
Rite I Exploration
On February 26, I will lead a discussion of the ways our traditional Anglican liturgy has influenced British and American writers and penetrated their works. This will be lively, not dull (I promise!), and will further immerse us in our own history--as Anglicans and as Episcopalians. Please come and, if you have them, bring examples.
If you have a favorite you would like me to mention, please let me know:
Choir School #4 - Saturday, February 25 from 9:30 am-2:30 pm St. John's Episcopal Church in Bangor is hosting the fourth of five "Choir Schools" for children aged 7 and above. These choir schools are open to the whole community - not just children who participate in St. John's Church. In addition to learning some fun music, the curriculum will include - Reading notes and rhythm - including Sight-singing; Using the voice; Singing technique; Music puzzles, Music symbols and terminology. The day will conclude with a brief concert at 2:15 pm in the church, 225 French Street. Participants should pre-register by emailing
or calling 207-974-7715 and giving the name and age of the child. There is no charge for participation and student should bring a bag lunch. Please feel free to pass along this information to any friends who sing or might be interested in learning more about singing.
Adult Christian Education and Formation
EfM Collect: January, 2017
To close the evening each week, the Education for Ministry (EfM) group writes a collect that reflects
aspects of the night's discussion. The group has chosen to begin to share some of these with their
church family. Each month (Oct-Jun) the group will select one collect from the previous month for
publication in the next electronic newsletter. Collects follow a formal literary pattern, usually consisting
of an address to God, a clause referring to some characteristic of God, a petition, a result clause (what
you want to get from the petition), and a concluding doxology. Collects are either one or two sentences
in length, depending on whether the first two parts - the address and named characteristic of God - are
a complete sentence or only a phrase. Over the years of EfM it has become the custom to leave the
ending doxology implied only. Here, then, is the January, 2017 offering, composed on the 25
Heavenly Father, You reveal yourself through your Son Jesus Christ. Help us see your Son in the stranger,
so that we are able to reflect the trust and love that led to our creation. Amen.
2017 Lenten Groups
5 Marks of Mission: Living Life Marked as Christ's Own.
A discipleship offering
inspired by the Anglican Marks of Mission. Join the brothers of SSJE in this six-week series
to examine and reflect on the ways in which God's Life and God's Mission express
themselves in and through us. Sundays, 11:30 in the chapel, March 5-26.
, by Rowan Williams, 1 PM in the oratory, Sundays in Lent
We Preach Christ Crucified
, by Kenneth Leech. Wednesdays in Lent at
1 pm in the oratory
*If you would like to order either or both of these books through the church, please contact
the office (947-0156) or speak to Pat Sprague as soon as possible.
- Taste & See, explore a different spiritual discipline each week during
Lent, including the Examen Prayer (led by Scott Burgess), Centering Prayer (Pat Sprague),
Chanting the Psalms (Cindy Lufkin), Anglican Prayer beads (Scott Burgess and Pat
Sprague), Ignatian Contemplation, and Praying with Icons (Pat Sprague). If you have an
interest in any other prayer practice, please contact the office. A complete list of sessions,
dates, and times will be available soon.
In the meantime, we continue to offer books on the Christian Education table (located at the
back of the church) on a variety of spiritual practices. If you are seeking companionship in
the practice of any particular spiritual discipline, send a note to Formation
for more information and support.
Conversations on Scripture
: Looking at the
Gospel of Matthew
. Led by Mo. Rita and Mo.
Jane White-Hassler, Thursday evenings, March 2-April 6, 6:30-7:30 in the oratory.
Lenten Quiet Evening :
Join fellow parishioners in an evening of quiet reflection, led by the Rev Cn
Michael Ambler. Sunday, April 9
, 4-6 PM, A light meal will be shared in the Undercroft.
A new "Pew Research" Initiative!
(Sorry; we couldn't resist the pun.)
As part of our efforts to broaden the definition and reach of Christian education, particularly
for our young ones, and in support of our belief in the importance of meeting people where
they are, we have begun to place educational materials in the pews. In the coming weeks,
look for copies of two books that explain the Rite II service from a child's perspective. One
is green, entitled "A Child's Guide to the Holy Eucharist" by Sarah Horton. The other is red,
and is written by Gretchen Wolff Pritchard and titled "Alleluia! Amen!" Each explains what's
happening and the meaning behind each part of the service. Please encourage your
children to read these books. And feel free to read them yourself. In addition to possibly
gaining some insight, you may decide to purchase a copy of one or the other - or both - for
your home. If that should happen, please consider purchasing an extra copy for the church.
The budget for this project is small and at this point we can only begin with a dozen books
for the whole church. Our longer term goal is to have at least one copy in every pew. Your
help would be appreciated.
Shrove Tuesday & Mardi Gras Pancake Supper
in the undercroft: 5:30-6:30, February 28
. Come enjoy
pancakes, music, games, and lots of fun on the eve of Lent. This will be a fundraiser for the June
mission trip to Boston. JR & SR YES youth groups will help cook and clean up. Child care will be
Winter Middle School Event
, March 10-12, at St Paul's in Brunswick, for grades 6-8.
Teens Encounter Christ
(TEC), March 24-26, at St Luke's Cathedral in Portland.
St Patrick's Day Lunch
, March 19, in the undercroft at 11:30. Join us for a traditional corned beef and
cabbage meal. This will be a fund-raiser for the SR YES 2018 trip to Taize (France).
SR YES Pre-Confirmation Retreat
aboard the Maine Seacoast Mission's boat, the Sunbeam, April 18-21
SR YES Confirmation
- the sacrament of confirmation will take place on Sunday, May 7
, at St Luke's
Cathedral in Portland.
Mission trip to Boston
for JR & SR youth, June 21-26
Announcements & Looking Ahead
The National Alliance on Mental Illness hosts Educational Speaker Night on February 21st,featuring St. John's own Keith Young. Keith will be presenting "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Effective Treatments for Adults and Children", with time following for questions, answers and discussion. The event is located at Acadia Hospital at 268 Stillwater Ave. in Bangor in the Osprey Room and will be held from 6:30 pm - 8 pm.
The next meeting of the St. John's Book Group will be Tuesday, February 28th at 7 pm at the home of Jane Zenk, 20 Poplar Court (Dirigo Pines), Orono, 866-1148 or email@example.com (pls. note change of email for Jane). We will be reading Listening for the Heartbeat of God, John Philip Newell. (Leader: Cass Wright) Limited library copies in Maine Cat, Amazon paperback.
St. John's will be offering 3 opportunities for worship on Ash Wednesday, March, 1st. The 7:30 am service and will be held in the Bethlehem Chapel, the 12:15 pm service will be in the Church, and the 7 pm service will be held in the Church with a full choir.
Mardi Gras and Pancakes! Please join us for our All Parish Annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake supper on February 28th at 5:30 pm in the Undercroft, hosted by our wonderful Youth Groups. Chow down on some pancakes to prepare for Lenten fasting, throw on the beads, and enjoy the food and fellowship.