St. John's Episcopal Church - Centreville, VA
Parish News - February 17, 2021

Dear St. John's Parishioners and Friends:
Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Lenten season. In the service for Ash Wednesday, we read, "I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, 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." (page 265 BCP). Some people give up something for Lent - a certain food or a bad habit. Others take on acts of kindness or giving, or set aside additional time for prayer or reading the scriptures. Lent is a time to do a spiritual housecleaning and see what might be getting in the way of our relationship with God.
Below, you will find the link to the Ash Wednesday service recorded in the church. When it is time for the imposition of ashes, you may use ashes from your fireplace or fire pit and make the sign of the cross on the foreheads of your family members, saying the words, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." Individuals living alone may put the ashes on their own forehead.
To make your Lenten journey more meaningful, I invite you to join us on Zoom for the Lenten book study using Bishop Curry's book, "Love is the Way: Holding onto Hope in Troubling Times." See more information below and the link to join the book study on Zoom. Also below are other resources that might be helpful for your Lenten journey.
Because Lent is a penitential time, we will be using Rite I rather than Rite II for the Wednesday and Sunday services. Rite I uses more traditional language and has a more penitential tone.
May this season of Lent be a meaningful one that deepens your relationship with God.

The Rev. Carol Hancock
Ash Wednesday Service

This video was pre-recorded in St. John's church for you to watch at home. Included here is a link to the bulletin, with the hymns. This can be printed out in advance.

Bulletin - Ash Wednesday

Young boy receives ashes on Ash Wednesday
Lenten Book Study - For our Lenten book study, we will discuss Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's most recent book, "Love is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times." You will need to order the book ahead of time and read the first two chapters for our first session this Monday, February 22. We will meet on Monday evenings in Lent from 7:00 - 8:00 PM. We have 6 people signed up so far but we hope to have more. No need to pre-register - just join us on Monday night. The link for the Lenten book study is

Ash Wednesday - We have a service recorded in the church for you to watch at home. Our bishop has said that each family or individual can use ashes from their fire place or fire pit, or they can burn some leaves into ashes. Another option is to pick up a small bag of ashes from the church sometime before the service. Families can apply ashes to the foreheads of other family members with the words "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return." Those who live alone can apply the ashes to their own forehead.

Lenten Resources - There are a variety of online resources as well as books you can order to enhance your Lenten journey. Here are a few:

--Episcopal Relief and Development - You can print out their booklet of daily meditations or subscribe to their daily meditations online. Free

--Cokesbury - Has various Lenten books and daily devotions for sale.

--The Episcopal Church - Has various daily devotions and other Lenten resources from a variety of Episcopal organizations. Free

--Forward Day by Day - Provides daily devotions not only for Lent but year round. It is online (free) or you may purchase an individual subscription.

Vestry Meetings - Have you ever wondered what the Vestry does and what goes on in Vestry meetings? Have you thought about serving on the Vestry? If so, you are welcome to join a Vestry meeting. They are open to members of the congregation, except if they have to go into an executive session to discuss something confidential, which is rare. The next Vestry meeting is this Sunday, February 21 at 7:00 PM on Zoom. If you would like to join us, please let Carol know and she will send you the link. The Vestry, which handles the business of the church, meets on the third Sunday of the month at 7:00 PM on Zoom.

Be a Sunday service reader, from anywhere!
During this time of covid, St. John's holds a Sunday morning prayer service which is "aired" on Sunday mornings at 9 AM. The readings are
...pre-recorded, and several parishioners have been doing a great job doing them, from different venues - no matter where they are! We welcome, need, and value your help! If you would like more information on how to do this, click here for the info page on SignUp Genius. Please sign up a week before the Sunday you would like to read, so we can get the readings to you and you can get your recording to David Weir by Thursday.
Every Wednesday, St. John's has a Service of Evening Prayer at 6 PM. It is a peaceful way to end the day, and it's now being held virtually. Here is the link to this evening's service:

Please see Ash Wednesday, above
COVID Vaccines - Those who are 65 and older can now register with the Fairfax County Health Department for a vaccine. You are encouraged to register now, although it might be several weeks or months before they assign you an appointment date and time to get the vaccine. As more vaccines are produced and become available, pharmacies and doctors offices will also have access to the vaccine and be able to administer them. The health department also lists other targeted groups that are eligible to register for the vaccine. You can register at

If your doctor is part of INOVA, you may be able to get the vaccine through their office. Some local CVS pharmacies are also providing the vaccine. Go to for locations and availability.
The link to the Sunday service is sent out each Saturday as usual. Then join us for the coffee hour from 10:00 - 10:30 and the Adult Lectionary Class at 10:30 AM on Zoom. The links will be sent out in Saturday's email to all.

The Fairfax County Health Department is looking for Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, Registered Nurses, and Licensed Practical Nurses to join its vaccination team on a part-time, temporary basis. Here is the link to apply:  Help Wanted: Fairfax Health District is Hiring For Pandemic Response Efforts | Health (

FOOD DRIVE-BY LAST SUNDAY - thanks to all who participated in the food drive-by in our front parking lot last Sunday. The team reports that we delivered 312.45 pounds of food in two deliveries!

In the past, it was our practice to embark on a fund-raising campaign every other year. We skipped a planned campaign in 2020 in the face of the uncertainty of the pandemic. Rest assured, however, that even after a year of the pandemic, the church’s operating budget is sound. The continued generosity of parishioners, savings that were realized from reduced use of the building, and a US government pandemic small business loan have helped ensure that our daily expenses are met even when some of our ministry partners have had to cut back on their donations. This campaign, however, is enabling us to take care of the long-term maintenance items that could not be postponed. 
Campaign Update: An Amazing Start 
Thanks to the amazing generosity of the congregation, the Lift Me Up campaign is off to a start that exceeded our expectations. In just the first few days, the church received over $10,000 in contributions. As of today, we've reached $30,300. It's this kind of support from the community that has kept St Johns strong during this difficult past year. While some have put their technical or musical skills to work recording services, others have done important work around the building: installing lights, killing weeds, and cutting and wrapping massive quantities of firewood. Other members have put their energies into supporting our people -- calling on those who are at home and baking cookies. And even when we're not meeting, we're continuing to send hundreds of pounds of food to the food bank at WFCM. 

We're still in the early days of the campaign and there's still lots of opportunities to make a tangible show of support to the continuing work of St. Johns. Donations will be accepted by mail and via until March 17. We're now more than half way to our goal but the let's maintain the good momentum that we started!  Help us make our thermometer rise!
Thank you everyone for your loyal support of St. John's. 

Lisa Heller and Andrew Wade
The firewood sale has raised $1,640 !! Wow! Many thanks to all who felled the trees, chopped the wood, stacked it out back, bundled it, stacked it out front to sell, and purchased the bundles.

A note from a grateful customer: "Thank you for having this wood where old people can access it and at a reasonable price."
The Adult Lectionary Forum
Now being held virtually via Zoom. All are invited to join in, following the virtual Sunday service. The links to the Forum and the service are sent out in a separate email on Saturdays.
We can prepare our hearts & minds by reading ahead
for the Sunday Service lesson

The First Sunday in Lent
February 21, 2020

The First Reading:
Genesis 9:8-17
 God makes a promise to all of humanity and every living creature to come. His mercy is symbolized by a rainbow.

The Psalm: 25:1-9
The Second Reading:
1 Peter 3:18-22
 God saved Noah and his family through the dangers of the flood waters. Even now, he saves through the risky waters of baptism, drawing a new people to himself.

The Gospel:
Mark 1:9-15
 After his baptism by John, Jesus faces testing by the Evil One; filled with the Holy Spirit, and given grace and attendance by God’s angels, Jesus withstands the assaults, emerges victorious, and begins preaching.
Online Contributions
 to St. John's
St. John's now offers three buttons for online donations via You may use the buttons below to go directly to, or you may download the app on your phone or tablet.
The Pledge payment button may be used only to make your pledge payment (after signing up to be a pledger, which may be done at any time in the year. See Carol or Vestry)
The Facility Campaign button may be used only for any contribution for the facility's buildings and grounds, or special facility campaigns.
The Donation button may be used for any other type of donation to St. John's. To designate a special purpose (i.e. Organ Fund, Ministry Partner payments, etc.) please send a note to
Sermons from the Bishop's Online Chapel
Each week, one of our bishops or a member of the diocesan staff prepares and posts a sermon based on the Sunday's readings that can be used for online services. Here is the sermon posted for this past Sunday.
Water in the Desert
Shrove Tuesday is upon us, marking a break in this trackless time of pandemic disruption. Today we all become the Emperor Constantine, who waited until the last moment before death for baptism, because, well, you know, one might sin again after baptism, and better to leave some room to maneuver. Or Augustine, who prayed, as recorded in his Confessions -- "Lord, make me chaste -- but not yet!" Lent begins tomorrow. We will join our Lord Jesus in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights (Sundays, being always Easter, are not counted), preparing our hearts for the coming Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. So, might as well eat up all the butter and sugar and beef -- don't drink all the whiskey; it will keep and you would expire -- live it up a little before the somber reminders of mortality that come tomorrow on Ash Wednesday.
Sometimes, a targeted fast during Lent is just the spiritual ticket -- a recognition of the abundance in our lives and a release of the things that distract us from communion with our God. At other times, it can feel contrived to do a traditional, very-limited Lenten fast- maybe refraining from one indulgence or another -- the Sonic Fried Fish Sandwich with Fries and a Soda Lenten Special, anyone? Would you like tots or onion rings with that? And THIS year, giving up hamburger meat, or even chocolate, feels like overkill when we've been fasting from all social life, from working around the conference table together, from WORSHIPING together. Fasting from the Eucharist -- for going on a year. I'm not sure we need to fast from Ghirardelli's, too. I don't know about you, but the starved parts of my soul just feel weary at the thought.
We've been in the desert for forty weeks, and then some. What I'm looking for is water. I know the Resurrection water is coming, but I'm thinking this Lent, instead of paring back, my soul needs to spend the time priming the pump. The pipes have gotten so dry, the well seems to have receded so deep, that connecting to the Living Water is going to take adding something, instead of the usual need to subtract a few distractions.
Listening to the Lenten plans in several of our Regions -- notably in Fredericksburg, the Upper Tidewater, Potomac, and Culpeper -- I'm inspired to reconnect with a more disciplined, rhythmic way of prayer and dwelling in Scripture. Many of our congregations have rediscovered the great treasure of the Anglican/Episcopal Book of Common Prayer; that is, the habit of Morning, Noonday, Evening, and Bedtime (Compline) Prayers -- collectively called "the Daily Office" or just "the Office." Clergy were once required to "read the Office" daily; now it's encouraged, and many do, and more probably slip in and out of the habit. Even in monasteries (where the practice was formalized centuries ago), the Office has shrunk in modern times. 
The set-apart time, Lent, is an especially good time to use the Office to mark our days.
Praying the Daily Office does several things. It grounds the day -- beginning, middle, end -- in prayer, framing our time in a way that's different from a Daytimer or TV schedule. It reconnects us to the ancient rhythms and words and songs of faith. It reminds us to pray, to connect with God, even when we don't think we have anything to say. It connects us with others praying in these rhythms -- all the Abrahamic faiths, really -- and very tightly to other Anglicans. And the readings take us through the Bible much more thoroughly than the Sunday lectionary, and in only two years.
So, I am recommitting to this full practice, at least for Lent, with most of the scripture reading in the morning to launch my day, with the brief reorientation of a quick noonday prayer, and with a peaceful Evening Prayer or Compline. I'm going to use the Office as my map and divining rod through the desert of Lent, leading me to the fountain of Life. I'll drop in on some congregations that are broadcasting the Office (there are MANY doing so -- check around your region!) And I'll put some serious mileage on my Daily Office Book, which collects the sets of prayers and all the readings in order (here's a newer version). The compilation is very handy, but not necessary -- I'm going to give you some simple (and free) steps to get you started.
How to begin. If you're an old hand at the Office, I hope you'll recommit with me. And if you are new to the idea, I'd recommend joining one of our congregations once a day, and/or using the very handy daily recorded service at Mission St. Clare in English -- or Spanish. Click on this link to find a treasure trove of easy-to-use resources. They even have a shortened written Daily Devotions section if you're short on time. The recorded regular morning service, with readings, take less than fifteen minutes; Noonday about three minutes, and Evening Prayer about six minutes. The daily readings are collected there, too. Your Rector or Vicar may have other favorite sources; they'd be thrilled to their very toes if you asked them about it.
Where to Find It All in the Prayer Book. Of course, it's all laid out in the Book of Common Prayer. You can find it online at; just click on the Daily Office in the Index. Morning Prayer Rite I (p. 37) is the version older folks remember, in old-fashioned English and with a somewhat more penitential emphasis. Morning Prayer Rite II (p. 75) is the contemporary version. There's only one Noonday Prayer (p. 103). Evening Prayer comes in Rite I (p. 62) and Rite II (p. 115), and there's a single form of Compline (bedtime prayers) (p. 127). The one-pager Daily Devotions (p. 136-140) are good for families or when you're really in a hurry. The Daily Office Lectionary, which is the two-year schedule of readings that go along with the Daily Office, is located at page 934. We're currently in Year 1 (in the two-year cycle), and we begin the Lenten schedule tomorrow with Ash Wednesday (p. 951; middle of Week of Last Epiphany). If you're getting fancy and doing it all yourself from your prayer book, it helps to know that the schedule of Canticles is on page 144.
And yes, it counts if you use the New Zealand Book of Common Prayer, or one from Iona or the Order of St. Helena or another monastic order, or whatever other source you love. The point is to connect with the water of the River of Life, and to moisten the dusty pipes of our souls in the desert season.
Today -- go ahead and enjoy your pancakes and jambalaya, whether you plan to observe a traditional fast or not. Fat Tuesday comes but once a year, and tomorrow, as we remember that we are but dust and to dust we shall return, I hope you'll join me at the well, as we dip our buckets all the way down to the source of life, refreshing ourselves for the journey ahead.

Bishop Jennifer Brooke-Davidson
When we love we want to serve. We long to be given some task that will contribute to the good purposes of the one we love. The greatest hope of those who have chosen to serve is that they may be found trustworthy; they can imagine no greater joy than to do what pleases the other.
-Br. David Vryhof
My email address is,
and the office number is 703-803-7500. 

May our ministry together spread God's love to all whom we encounter.

      - Carol

      The Rev. Carol Hancock, Rector
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