St. John's Book Group
Feast of the Ascension
○ June 6th
Hospice of Eastern
Maine 2017 Memorial
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 Beloved in Christ,
Happy Easter! Christ is Risen, Alleluia!
In this season of Easter, as we ponder how to live as Easter women and men, I am instructed and inspired by our youth and the service of Maundy Thursday in Holy Week.
Through Lent our senior youth members were preparing to renew their Baptismal Vows in Easter season through the sacrament of Confirmation. They had already been part of a two year program of preparation that involved monthly classes, meetings with mentors, and regular times of service at the Bangor Homeless Shelter. With Lent they began a final time of preparation before Eastertide. They took part in the "Lenten Enrollment" that is offered every year, where those intending to renew their Baptismal Vows are presented and state their intentions publically. They are then asked to be leaders amongst us in our Lenten returning to God. After first receiving ashes, they mark congregants with ashes in the
sign of the cross on Ash Wednesday. They offer their leadership in Lent through regular worship, personal devotion, acts of service, and some act of penitence. Finally on Maundy Thursday, in Holy Week, they bring all this to our worship.
On Maundy Thursday, we remember Jesus' new commandment ("Maundy" comes from the Latin word for "command") that we love one another as he has loved us. We remember his giving his life for us on the cross and his dual instruction that we continue in communion with him through
|the sacrament of his body and blood which he instituted at the Last Supper, and through humble loving service to one another which he instituted the same night through the washing of feet. While we celebrate the Eucharist each Sunday, we celebrate the washing of feet only once a year, in the evening on Maundy Thursday. Not all come forward, but all are invited. Those who are preparing to renew their Baptismal Vows are the first to have their feet washed. They then wash the feet of the clergy and of all who come forward. The congregation softly sings "Ubi Caritas", "Where so ever true love and charity are found, God himself is there," as individuals come forward. Every year I find it incredibly moving and meaningful, but this year it was especially so.
Watching, as the youth allowed their feet to be washed and then washed the feet of others, felt like participating in an induction ceremony. Most years, those who are preparing to be Confirmed or Received, and who lead us in this service, are adults. Often they are coming into the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church after years of Christian faith and life in another denomination, another branch of the Church. Their leadership is meaningful and moving, and represents an important commitment to their faith and to this community, but it does not often signify a new decision for Christian faith and practice. The teens, however, were in the midst of deciding definitively whether to be Confirmed, whether to make for themselves the Vows that were made on their behalf as infants and children. With them, the foot washing seemed more like an initiation into a whole way of life. As a community we upheld this ideal way of being together, of loving each other and receiving love and forgiveness from God and one another. The physical act of getting on hands and knees and humbling washing feet became a symbol of the life we are inviting these students to adopt. And because with them it was clearly a choice for a way of life, they seemed to distill and reflect that way of life back to us by their service. They articulated the essence of our life together following Christ, and so their service allowed us in the congregation to understand better our life together and presented us the opportunity to be renewed in a life with Christ lived in service.
And now this past Sunday, May 7th, was their day of Confirmation. A wonderful collection of mentors, youth leaders, and parents and parishioners gathered in St. Luke's Cathedral, to witness their claiming this way of life for themselves before our Bishop. Along with members of other congregations from across the Diocese, we joined with them in renewing our Baptismal Vows and we laid hands on them with the Bishop, praying for them and representing also the larger community of St. John's to which they are committing themselves. The Spirit renews the Church.
The Spirit is always at work for the renewal of the Church. On Saturday we were reminded of this as many gathered at St. John Baptist, Thomaston, for the ordination to the priesthood of our former seminarian, Sheila Seekins. She was presented and vested in a priest's stole, a gift from our parish. Several parishioners were able to join in her ordination service, representing St. John's and giving thanks for Sheila's ministry among us and for the opportunity to be an integral part of her formation.
Hopefully, Sheila will be able to join us one Sunday before too long, and lead our worship as a priest of the Diocese.
The Spirit is at work for our renewal through our recent cottage meetings and the conversations we had about our church and ministry and the ways we feel God calling us to serve him in the years ahead. On behalf of the Vestry and myself, much thanks to all those who took part in the conversations. Over eighty people offered their time and thought to take part in the process. A special thanks also to all those who hosted the meetings, and especially to those who facilitated the conversations. The conversations were interesting and engaging and gave opportunities for new connections across the parish. Our Senior Warden, Sarah Danser, is compiling the notes from the 11 meetings and will be presenting a synthesis of them to the Vestry to help it consider further the future and ministry to which God is calling us.
Renewal is further at work through the Living Local Team and their initiative of interviewing parishioners and also observing people in public places in our neighborhood and ultimately asking them to share their reflections and observations of St. John's. They will be sharing all that they learn with the Vestry at the end of May or early June. Their sense of how God is calling us through the people of our neighborhood will be important to this same work of discernment for our future. If you are willing to be interviewed, or in interviewing others, or in any other way participating in Living Local, please speak to Andy Hamilton or other Team members, or call the parish office.
Our life in Christ and his call to follow him through humble service leads to a way of life shaped by the cross. It is an invitation to adventure - unpredictable and illumined by grace. Like at the Maundy Thursday foot washing, God is renewing our sense of identity and call as a community. With the youth, we are to live it boldly into God's future with hope and enthusiasm - as Easter men and women.
The Lord is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!
Yours in Christ,
Alumni Choral Evensong
Alumni Choral Evensong - Sunday, May 21st at 4 pm. The music will include the magnificent setting of the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis composed by British musician, Herbert Howells, for the Choir of St. Paul's Cathedral, London. The extended anthem will be "Blessed be the God and Father," an Easter anthem by S.S. Wesley. All contributions received at Evensong will go to the Fred Jones Music Fund. The service will also include installation of new choristers and a new head chorister. Choir alumni are encouraged to join us for Evensong, and are welcome to attend our regular rehearsal on Wednesday, May 17th, when we will be covering Evensong music from 6:30 - 7:30 pm.
Andy & Patty Hamilton
The Living local team is wrapping up our congregation interviews and would like to thank all the parishioners who participated. We are now moving onto observations in our community and then interviewing our neighbors. We would welcome any additions to the team, this will be an exciting project. Please feel free to contact either Andy or Patty Hamilton at 990-0889.
Our second state wide meeting will be held in Waterville on May 20th
United Thank Offering
Deacon Ann McAlhany
Our next ingathering will be on Ascension Sunday, May 28th.
The United THANK offering of the Episcopal Church is a personal spiritual discipline of thanksgiving that supports God's mission throughout the world. The Blue Box was created as a receptacle for coins to remind the user to give thanks daily and for all things.
Our Blue Boxes will again be collected and blessed at an ingathering on Sunday, May 28th. All blessings, big or small, are gifts from God and all offerings, big or small, are used for the glory of God and the building of God's Kingdom. When everyone participates, many coins make great sums when joined together. This is the "United" in the Thank Offering. The collected sums are given as grants for mission throughout the Anglican Communion.
Highlights of the Vestry Meeting
- The January and March Minutes were approved by the Vestry.
- There is a meeting on Outreach Tuesday, May 9th.
- There is a meeting on Education on Tuesday, June 13th.
- The was a final "Cottage Meeting" for our Youth Group on,
Saturday, April 29th.
- A date for the May Spring Clean-Up will be forth coming and will be announced shortly.
- The Vestry will look at and consider a quote for the new hot water heater.
- A list of parish fund accounts was reviewed and Vestry affirmed all others to be accepted.
- There was a vote by the Vestry to empower the listed people for signing documents. A change was made in signers from former Senior Warden, Judith Allen to current Senior Warden, Sara Dancer.
- Choir and Altar Guild will be responsible for the May Coffee Hour.
- Mother Rita thanked all the people who served faithfully on Holy Week for their time and efforts.
- Confirmation candidates were confirmed on May 7th at St. Luke's in Portland. All people of the Parish are always invited to come and support the candidates
Many Hands Create Easter Joy
Jim & Claudia Blanchette
After Holy Week with a variety of services and emotions, Easter Day is special for many reasons.
It starts with unpacking the yearly tub of Easter centerpieces and decorating the tables at 6:30 AM for the choir, clergy, and acolyte breakfast. The men get busy with cooking in the kitchen. It's breathtaking to see the church so full at both services with the choir singing music they've practiced for months, organ music, saying/singing Alleluia again, sneaking jelly beans, smelling the array of Easter lilies around the altar, watching the teens laugh and enjoy fellowship hiding the Easter eggs around the church, then the faces of awe as the toddlers and children see The Easter Bunny (give him a hug or high-five) and find their treasures. People leave the church with message from Mo. Rita in their hearts, full belly from breakfast, pictures of children with Mr. Bunny, and lilies to take to shut-ins.
EfM Collect: April, 2017
O God of our faith, you gave us Your son;
In this week when you so deeply felt the pain of human suffering,
Let us remember that self-epiphanies hurt but they bring us to a closer awareness of who we are in your creation.
Enrollment for EfM (Education for Ministry) is about to open! EfM is a four year program (Old Testament; New Testament; Christian History; and Theology and Ethics), but group members commit to only one year at a time. EfM meets Wednesdays from 6:00-8:30 PM in the library; the first session of the fall is scheduled to be September 6th. Enrollment ends June 30. If interested, speak to Pat Sprague or Nancy Ludwig.
SR YES Pre-Confirmation Retreat Aboard the Sunbeam: April 18-20, 2017
The SR YES group, along with Pat and me (Diana Meakem), recently returned from their service and pre-confirmation trip aboard the Maine Seacoast Mission's boat Sunbeam. We visited two islands, Matinicus and Isle au Haut, but spent more time on Matinicus. During our two nights and three days aboard the Sunbeam, we explored new terrain, both internally and externally.
Matinicus was our first port of call. You can only get on and off this island by airplane or private boat; almost all its inhabitants make their living from the sea. We took a walking tour of Matinicus, which is 22 miles off the coast and about 2.5 miles from north/south. We spent a few hours in the morning visiting their one-room schoolhouse and interacting with two elementary students. While at school, we made paper-maché puppets with the children and then helped till their two garden plots. Later that day, we picked up trash and returnables along the island's main roads.
Because Matinicus is so remote, Douglas (the boat's chaplain, who served as our guide and liaison) explained that visitors to the island are not only rare, but especially meaningful. Having someone bother to visit an island that is so difficult to get to says: You aren't forgotten or alone. I see you, and you matter. Much of the ministry of the Sunbeam, we came to understand, is providing this kind of presence to remote islands. The boat's doors are always open, its coffee and cookie coffers are never empty, and islanders know they are welcome to join the Sunbeam crew for meals. The boat also provides medical and mental health services through a telemedicine unit and a nurse as part of the crew, and Douglas leads worship services on the islands. For the islanders, the Sunbeam provides access to community and health care in remote places. For our group, the Sunbeam's ministry of hospitality freed us from the usual logistical details of a mission trip, allowing us to focus on being present with the islanders and each other.
During our devotional times as a group, we talked about faith and community, identity and doubt. We meditated on the story of Doubting Thomas and imagined ourselves inhabiting that story. Some of us felt like the disciples, perhaps indignant of Thomas' need for a physical sign. Others resonated with Thomas, wishing for a tangible experience of the Lord's presence. This story seems to invite the question: how will we, as individuals, respond to Jesus' resurrection?
In tandem with our conversations about the resurrection, we discussed what confirmation meant to each of them. I deeply respected the group's honesty with themselves and with each other. For several of them, a choice to be confirmed was less about certainty and more about an intentional choice to ask their questions within the St. John's faith community. To them, the church provides "a safe, reliable, and collected community" (as one member wrote) for them to keep exploring the big questions. Confirmation, then, means saying yes to continue to engage in those questions. The group also talked about confirmation as an independent decision to affirm the baptismal promises made for them as infants-to, as one member wrote, "fully join the community that I have been a part of for so long."
All of us experienced the joy-and hard work-of community with each other and with the islanders during on time on the Sunbeam. Whether you live on a tiny remote island in the middle of the Atlantic or in Bangor, Maine, I was reminded that we all need each other. Regardless of location, everyone needs a community to say: you aren't forgotten or alone. I see you, and you matter.
Our second stop was Isle au Haut, equally as beautiful as Matinicus, but not as remote. It lies much closer to the mainland, enjoys daily ferry service, and receives electricity via an underwater cable. (Matinicus must generate every kWh on its own, making electricity - and all other forms of energy - an expensive resource not to be wasted.) We arrived on Isle au Haut as evening approached, and left on the tide at noon the next day. Quite a few islanders joined us for meals and particularly for conversation during the evening, and most of us joined them in a few rousing games of volleyball. We were also able to tour the island's small schoolhouse and then the town library, where the librarian allowed us to hunt through boxes of no-longer-needed books. You all would have enjoyed seeing our teens so excited about books.
The teens returned to the Sunbeam's home port of Northeast Harbor, tired but happy.
for additional photos of the mission trip.
Youth Programs: Upcoming
The Sunday school year will be ending on June 4th, which will be a Youth Sunday. (Parents: please remember to bring a food contribution for coffee hour.) Graduating seniors, Sunday school teachers, and youth group leaders will be honored. Ann Wilbanks will be graduating from EfM.
Mission trip to Cambridge for JR & SR YES, June 21-26. All members of the JR and SR YES groups are invited. Those who go on this mission trip will work hard at several service and worship sites, but will also enjoy the laughter, fellowship, and spiritual growth that a mission experience always engenders. There will be a mandatory informational meeting on June 11th for all participants and their parents.
St. John's Stained Glass Windows
There is a definitive book, "a small history", of the figures, illustrations, buildings, stained glass windows and other gifts, rectors, and the people of St. John's. This book, edited by Deborah Thompson, was published in limited edition by St. John's Episcopal Church of Bangor Maine in 1985, in celebration of our church's sesquicentennial. It is with great thanks to Deborah Thompson and to all the members who provided this information that I take you on a newsletter tour of our windows. In following newsletters the virtual tour will include information about Charles J. Connick Associates, who made all the stained glass windows in the church proper.
The Windows in the Church
"A tour of the windows in the church proper begins at the window in the southwest wall, to the right as one enters the church from the Narthex. This is the St. Luke window (1962), given by the Rowe family in memory of Mary Louise Rowe. St. Luke, the physician, is seen holding a caduceus. As in the case of all the windows with saints in the church walls, the figure is enclosed in a pointed oval medallion at the top of the central glass panels; below and above is a repeating decorative pattern consisting of a foliated geometric framework, with small additional symbols in the tracery window heads and boarders. In the St. Luke's window, flames of divine love are represented in the lancet heads and tracery quatrefoil, with stars of heavenly steadfastness in the boarders and fields. The colors of the different medallions and decorative field patterns in each window were chosen in relation to each other and are very brilliant."
As slender shafts of golden light
Pierce the misty dawn,
They shine their welcome warming rays
Upon the forest lawn.
They filter through the giant sieve
Of Woven greenery
And cast a spotlight of their beams
On woodland scenery.
The random seeds which chance to fall
On sunlit paths below
Will grow and thrive, just as the man
Who basks in holy glow.
For mankind needs the light of God
As much as plants need sun
And when he stands beneath the rays
His days of dark are done.
Special Thanks To...
Announcements & Looking Ahead
More collection counters are needed for the weekly counting on Monday mornings. Two people meet with Rosa, our bookkeeper, at 9:30 am on Mondays, and we're done by 11 am. If there's a Monday holiday, we count on Tuesday. No previous experience needed, and no meetings to attend. If you can help out, even for one or two times a month, please contact Chris Szal (945-3329 or firstname.lastname@example.org). Thanks!
THANK YOU -
THE RUMMAGE SALE VERY SUCCESSFUL!
Your donations were very much appreciated - great quality items! Thanks also to the many hands setting up/cashiering/clean-up. Shoppers lined up and out the door at 7:30 am Saturday...who were happy with all the bargains. The jewelry table was a "treat" and made $100.00.
The total proceeds were $1400.00+.
Euphony, Orono's Chamber Choir, will present a concert at St. John's Episcopal Church on Sunday, May 21st at 7 pm.
The Book Group will meet on May 23rd at 7 pm at the home of Marisue Pickering, 6 Longwood Court, Orono (Dirigo Pines). The book is Jesus and Buddha, The Parallel Sayings, edited by Marcus Borg. For more information about the group call Marisue at 866-2606 or Cass Wright at 866-1060.
Please plan to join us on Thursday, May 25th for the Feast of the Ascension at 7:30 am in the Bethlehem Chapel.
St. John's is honored to be hosting the Hospice of Eastern Maine 2017 Annual Memorial Service on June 6th at 7 pm.
St. John's own Tom and Teile Benson helped to start the Hospice years ago. If anyone would be interested in helping with the event by donating cookies, or cheese and crackers, please speak with Nancy Henry or contact the office.