Special Music Event on March 24 with Prof. Paul Hirsch (l) and Dr. David Montgomery (r). Paul and David at the start of their duo career. For concert details see Connect to Music.
Connect to God 
Then you together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.
~Deuteronomy 26:11

As I was preparing for my sermon last Sunday, I read a powerful commentary on Deuteronomy 26:1-11 by Pastor Heidi Neumark. I encourage you to read it. It was written in 2007 but speaks to the issue of “aliens” in a way that is relevant to the immigration debate happening in our country now. 

Immigration policy is, of course, a very complicated issue. It is made worse by the media’s focus on the extreme positions on both sides of the debate, rather than the messy middle where most of us are trying to figure it out. We should all be concerned about an increase in hate crimes and hate speech directed at immigrants, including those who reside here legally. Wherever you stand on the issue of immigration, and in particular Illegal immigration, it is important to have a biblical perspective on how we should view or treat aliens who reside among us.

In a biblical sense, we have all been aliens since the time Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden. If we claim Abraham as our heritage then we descended from the “wandering Aramean” described in Deuteronomy (Aramean would describe someone from Northern Syria). And until we are in the Kingdom of God we are all pilgrim people. It is from this sense of identity as having been aliens that the Biblical view of how to treat resident aliens is derived. When Israel was first constituted as a nation on Sinai (biblical Israel, not the current Israel), aliens received protections under the law: “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” (Exodus 22:21.) Deuteronomy makes it clear that the bounty the Lord has given is to be shared with aliens. In Leviticus, the people are given this commandment: “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:34.)

America in 2019 is different than ancient Israel, but as a matter of values we should consider the biblical teachings at least in how our nation and citizens treats foreigners, resident aliens and non-resident aliens. (Ancient Israel did not have all the same legal distinctions we have today. Indeed, when my Greek grandparents came through Ellis Island as children they encountered a different reality than we have today).

As Pastor Neumark points out, the words “parish” and “parochial” are derived from a Greek word that means sojourning and dwelling in a strange land. In our more common usage it means dwelling near a church. In this season of Lent I pray we remember that we parishioners at St. John’s are sojourners. As sojourners, how do we respond to those who sojourn among us in Marin?

God’s peace,
The Rev. Chris Rankin-Williams, Rector
email Rev. Chris

P.S. Bonus reading here.
Pastoral Announcement A service for Alberta "Bertie" Lesko will be held at St. John's on Saturday, May 11 at 11am.
Connect to Community
New Parish Ministry Forming Christ calls each of us to be in community. Our new Greeter ministry is a way in which we can insure that all feel welcome. Each Sunday, 15 minutes before the 10am service and again 15 minutes after. The duty is usually once a month and is tremendously rewarding. It is our hope that we will have a greeter positioned just outside the sanctuary to greet both the membership and the newcomer. Remember, Easter is a time in which many attend church for the first time. If you would like to join this new ministry email John Sullivan, for more info.

St. John’s Stepping UP St. John’s youth and music programs are rapidly growing. We have added mini-retreats and other faith formation opportunities, and more St. John’s volunteers are in the community helping those in need. We have all stepped up to ensure St. John’s is a vibrant and thriving church. In order to continue our upward movement we are asking everyone to consider stepping up their giving for the 2019 Annual Fund. Over the next several months you will be contacted and we hope you can be as generous as possible. Overall St. John's needs to raise an additional 20% from what was raised in the 2018 annual fund to ensure the church continues to flourish.

This Sunday St. Patricks Day!  Our Fireside Discussion with our Seminarian John Sullivan, on the Broader Episcopal Church continues this Sunday, March 17 during coffee hour. The discussion will focus on the liturgical Feasts of the Church; we will look at several, both greater and lesser feasts as well as their biblical significance- 
As always this is an open discussion and we invite your participation.

Lent at St. John’s The season of Lent, the forty days before Easter, , is a season of focus on prayer, self-examination, and repentance not in order to feel guilty, but in order to clear space for God to work in our lives. Below are some ways that you might connect to God this season:
  • Stop/Start: Take some time to reflect - what could you stop doing to make more space for God in your life? What might happen if you stopped watching cable news for 40 days? Or disconnected from social media? Or perhaps you are called to start something new for 40 days. What would it be like to sit in silence with your heart open to God for 5 minutes each day? Or to spend 5 minutes in gratitude before bed every night?
  • Lenten Reflections: Pick up a booklet of reflections written by St. John's parishioners, one for each day of Lent, at our Mardi Gras party; in the church beginning on Ash Wednesday; or download a booklet from our website. (link to doc)
  • Lent Calendars: Email Sandra Pathik, Director of Children's Ministry for wonderful calendar that will help you to celebrate Lent as a family. 
  • Lent Retreat: Mark your calendars for a daylong spiritual retreat on Saturday, April 13 from 9am-4pm.

Breakfast Church Join us immediately after the 9am family service each Sunday in Lent to connect more deeply over a bowl of cereal. We’ll provide cereal, bowls, spoons, milk (all kinds), and conversation. All ages welcome.
Monday Bible Study is open to all - whether you’re new to reading scripture or a regular participant. Our next meeting is next Monday, March 25 in the Youth Room from 1-2:30 pm. The reading can be found here .

Women of Wisdom will meet in the Fireside Room on Thursday, March 28 from 10-11:15am.. All women of the Parish are invited to join us for discussion, coffee, and tea. We will be working to create prayers for services during the Merry Mary Month of May, when we highlight the work of women in the church. Bring favorite poems, paintings, and prayers!.

St. John's Women's Group: March Meeting As Lent starts this month, the theme of our gathering is "Lenten Practices." Please secure a few minutes to think about what you might do more or or less of in Lent. Are you going to take on your usual practice, or do you need to find something new? Will your practice be sacrificial enough to be truly reflective, but also positive enough to have a constructive impact on your faith journey. All women are invited to meet in the Fireside Room of the Parish Hall on Wednesday, March 27 from 11am to 12:30pm.
Connect to Service
2020 Census Jobs In advance of the 2020 Census, the U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting thousands of people for temporary jobs across the country. These positions provide the perfect opportunity to earn some extra income while helping your community. The results of the 2020 Census will help determine each state’s representation in Congress, as well as how certain funds are spent for schools, hospitals, roads, and more. This is your chance to play a part in history and help ensure that everyone in your community is counted! For more information or to apply online, click here .

Lent is a wonderful time to start serving alongside those in need in our community! Check out all the great opportunities to serve here

Easter Basket Drive Help a family in need this season. We are putting together Easter baskets of household goods and Easter meal ingredients for families in difficulty and housebound seniors. To adopt a family, please take slip from the display in the office lobby (available Sunday.) To assemble baskets, help make deliveries, or make a financial donation please email parishioner and drive coordinator Connie Granger. Basket Day will be Sunday, April 14. Please drop off your basket on or before that date!
Connect to Children
Lent in a Bag and Lent Calendars are available for children. You can get them in Sunday School or from Sandra Pathik, Children’s Ministry Director.

Summer Adventure Camp 2019 Plan your kids summer activities by marking the dates July 29-Aug. 2 for a week filled with awesome fun here in St. John’s. Kids from PreK to 5th grade are invited. Registration is $50 which includes snacks and T-shirt. Keep posted for more details. Interested to volunteer? Email Sandra Pathik, Director of Children's Ministry.

Children’s Ministry Newsletter: click here
Connect to Youth

Summary of Sunday 3/17/19

Church School at 10 AM
  • Donuts for all that come!!!
  • We'll be discussing the topic of Jesus being tested by Pharisees, cheating scandals, Irish, and more. (Our readings for Sunday).
Espresso Hour after church
  • Youth Group members run an Espresso Cart in the Parish Hall.
Afternoon Youth Group
  • TBD by the group.

Evening Youth Group
  • 6pm - 6:30 pm: Dinner
  • 6:30-7:30pm: Senior High Gathering
  • RSVP for dinner!

Junior High Youth Group Sunday (1st Sundays of the Month)
  • Sunday April 7, 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
  • Games, Food, and Fun!
  • Our Junior High are busy and juggling multiple Spring commitments, I'm putting forward one Sunday Night to focus get-togethers. I'll add nights based on schedule of participants.

Community Service in SF
  • Come volunteer at this amazing soup kitchen in Potrero Hill called Martin De Porres (most 2nd Sundays of the month)
  • Meet in the SJR parking lot at 7AM (I'll give 3 hrs of service)
  • We'll return by 9:50-10AM
  • RSVP and friends are welcome, for all 6th-12th graders

VOLUNTEER HOURS - Jr/Sr High Youth are invited to help me with pizza club (2nd & 4th Tuesdays) for volunteer hours.

  • I'm starting Pizza Club! A twice a month, pre-youth group (3rd-5th Grade) gathering on the Tuesday night’s of Dinner Church. We’ll make our own pizza’s (I have two pizza grills) then have a mini youth group activity. If your youth is interested in attending, please email Tom@stjohnsross.org - your youth’s name, age, school info & to help me prepare food numbers. Think: church, prayer, pizza, and running around screaming in the dark!
Upcoming dates:
  • March Tuesday Nights - 3/12 & 3/26 (2nd & 4th of the month) - Pizza, Games, & Compline / Time: 5:30 - 7pm / Parish Hall & Youth Rm

Nostalgic Videos of the Past Year(s):
Here's a few video retrospectives of the last year:

Pilgrimage to North Carolina
  • Dates: Saturday, July 20 - Friday, July 26
  • I'm working with the Diocese of North Carolina and will have more details soon.
  • Grades: 9-12th graders
Connect to Music
Special Music Event: March 24 On Sunday, March 24 at 3pm in the Parish Hall, Dr. Montgomery and his long-time keyboard partner, Prof. Paul Hersh (SF Conservatory) will present a concert of Romantic masterpieces by Brahms and Schubert. The concert is free, listeners may enjoy excellent California wines (also free.) The new concert series – ROSS ARTS AT ST. JOHN’S – began spectacularly last fall with an overflow crowd to hear Alexander Hersh, the international prize winning cellist (grandson of Paul!). The coming concert will feature Johannes Brahm’s left-hand setting of Bach’s great Chaconne, plus Franz Schubert’s Fantasy in F minor. PLEASE ATTEND, ENJOY, AND HELP ST. JOHN’S GROW THIS EXPERIENCE! This event is open to the public as part of our outreach.

 The Children’s Choir rehearses directly after the 10am service during coffee hour. Music folders for this choir are kept in the choir room (bottom shelves on the left). Any interested child in grade school may join. Reading skills (including music reading) are not necessary for the younger members. Parents will receive the texts of the songs by email from David Montgomery. WELCOME, ALL KIDS IN THIS AGE GROUP!
8am: Eucharist in the Church
9am: Family Eucharist in the Parish Hall
10am: Eucharist in the Church
& Sunday School
7.15am: Meditation in the Chapel
2nd & 4th Tuesdays 
6pm: Dinner Church in the Parish Hall 
2nd Thursdays
Noon: Eucharist in the Chapel  
St. John's Church 
PO Box 217 
14 Lagunitas Road 
Ross, CA 94957