by Fr. Kevin Warner
The holidays all have their own unique quirks that attend them. New Year’s is a time many make resolutions for the coming year. Perhaps by the time this arrives you will have made one or two resolutions and might even be at the point where you are reconsidering your choices. However, for this to arrive on time I am penning this at year end, when another phenomenon is occurring: the Top 10 Lists. It seems at year end we are inundated with lists of all sorts, things we know we shouldn’t care that much about, but the Top 10 format hooks us and we find ourselves watching “Top 10 Celebrity Drug Busts of 2021.” So, I thought it would be fun to combine the two and come up with the “Top 10 Christian Resolutions for 2023.”
Jonathan Edwards, the 18th-century revivalist, sat down at age 17 and penned 21 resolutions by which he would live his life. He added to this list until, by his death, he had 70 resolutions. He put at the top of his list: "Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these resolutions.…Remember to read over these resolutions once a week." Edwards didn't casually make New Year's resolutions with an expectation of eventually breaking them. Each week he did a self-check. He regularly summed up how he was doing and sought God's help in the process. In that spirit I offer these:
#1 Resolve to use the Bible alone as a blueprint for thinking and living, rather than culture, peer pressure or your own mental machinations. Resolve to study your Bible faithfully each day with the goal of being edified, instructed, and challenged. Keeping a journal of the things you learn in the Word will help you be more focused and aggressive in actively searching for hard truths to apply. If you are not already in a regular Bible study, join one.
#2 Resolve to remove from yourself negative influences, whether they be friends, unedifying TV shows, films, magazine, associates, or activities. While finding more Christian friends to fellowship with is important, is does not mean you are to remove yourself from the world so . . .
#3 Resolve to be a missionary right where you are, whether at work, school or at home. Look for opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those who don’t know Him. If you are open, God will arrange opportunities for you to witness to others.
#4 Resolve to serve and encourage the people in your congregation. “Knowledge puffs up, love builds up” says Paul. Look for someone to pay a compliment to, and whether it is a fellow parishioner or staff member, be a source of encouragement and help build up your church. Especially now, as we combine two worship formats, it is especially important to show each other generosity in spirit.
#5 Resolve to have quiet time with Him every day. Daily prayer is a must but it must be a conversation and we must allow for quiet and calm so we can hear Him speak.
#6 Resolve to not be a compromiser about your faith. Remember, Jesus said if we are ashamed of Him in this world, He will be ashamed of us in the next. If you are accused of being a Christian, plead guilty!
#7 Resolve to worry less. “Fret not, it leads only to iniquity” says the Psalmist. Worry is the opposite of faith and those who trust in the Lord know He will meet their needs. Adopt tithing as a regular spiritual discipline and “put me [God] to the test” and find Him faithful.
#8 Resolve to “bridle your tongue” and forswear any gossip or backbiting. If someone is not in the room do not spend time talking about him/her and never send emails that deride someone else. If someone sins against you, follow Matthew 18:15-17, and do not discuss it with others.
#9 Resolve to do something “hands on” for the sick, the lonely and/or the poor. Help with a soup kitchen, visit a shut-in, send a card to an ailing member, go on a mission trip but in some way involve yourself actively with someone in need.
#10 Resolve to worship the Lord. Joining with others in community worship of the Lord is pleasing to Him and helps edify the community. Don’t miss opportunities to come before His presence and give thanks.
These 10 Resolutions are by no means an exhaustive list but should help you with some ideas for the coming year. Bite off what you can chew and then, as Jonathan Edwards did, take them seriously and check yourself weekly to see how you are doing. And, most importantly, remember to do it in His strength!
II Timothy 1:11
From the Associate Rector
If you have been in my office at church, you likely have noticed a framed photo of two adolescent boys, in freezing temperature, facing a metal pole, one with his tongue stuck to it. You observed it signed by Scott Schwartz as “Flick” with the notation, “I double dog dare you!”
He took the dare and paid the price. The scene is from one of Jean Shepherd’s semi-fictional anecdotes heard on his radio talk show and later included in the seasonal classic, A Christmas Story.
I like that picture because it warns me of the often concealed payment of surrender to temptation.
The credit card companies are now reminding us that we may have gone a little overboard for the holidays buying things we didn’t need or couldn’t afford but not to worry. They can raise our credit limit. We can become one of their preferred customers and look good to all our friends. Forget the horribly high interest.
“Come on now. We double dog dare you!"
A fish will not swim toward a hook but is attracted to a worm. Therefore, a fisherman “baits” the hook to entice the fish to believe the hook is food.
We, too, this year, can be duped by dares. They may come in all forms and we should be careful.
Call to Annual Meeting
January 28, 2023
Please plan to join us Saturday evening for our Parish Annual Meeting. The meeting will begin with a potluck supper at 5:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall with the business meeting in the sanctuary as soon as everyone has licked their plates. The meeting will be livestreamed, but voting will be in-person only. We will be electing Vestry members and Delegates to Diocesan Convention.
Delegates for 2023 Diocesan Convention
We are seeking delegates for Diocesan Convention, scheduled for October 12-14, 2023, at the Diocesan Convention at the Conference Center in Punta Gorda. Delegates must be members in good standing at SJD and be able to attend a pre-convention meeting tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, September 6, 2023, at 7 p.m., location TBD. They must also be able to attend in-person.
Please submit self-nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Your Health Ministry
We will resume doing blood pressures in the parish hall after the 10 AM service on Sunday, January 29th and on the last Sunday of each month thereafter.
Over the past three decades the Lord has given me occasional glimpses of what the Church in America can be. The most recent glimpse happened during the Cursillo weekend just a few weeks ago.
I have served on teams that put on Cursillo weekends at least fifteen times. The most recent weekend in early December was flowing nicely according to schedule. It was an inspiring time of learning to become closer to the Lord. But this time, the Holy Spirit had bigger plans. It seemed that all that was required was for me to step out of my comfort zone and obey Him. Let me explain.
I met the other members of our team when we gathered at Dayspring on Thursday that week. One of the men I met for the first time was blind. His name is John. He had his service dog with him. That was not all that unusual. I have served on similar teams with blind teammates in the past. But I had the slightest sense that Holy Spirit was nudging me somehow.
A little later in the day, we were given our bunk assignments. John, and his dog, Taffy, were assigned the bunk right next to mine. Coincidence?
Over the last twenty years I have prayed for several people, with conditions similar to John’s, who have had the Lord restore their sight when I prayed. The Lord kept reminding me of that. Cursillo is not designed to be a healing weekend. Healing services are not included in the schedule, and we had been trained not to add them in, so I let those little Holy Spirit nudges pass me by.
The years have taught me that being obedient to the Holy Spirit often brings glory to God in unexpected and delightful ways. And when I fail to obey, He can become quite insistent. He reminded me that If there was even a possibility that John’s eyes could be healed and I didn’t at least try, I would fail to show the compassion of Christ to John. What kind of friend would that make me?
So, in a moment of private conversation with John, I asked him, “Would you like to receive your sight today?” That was a risky question. Not everyone I pray for receives healing.
John said, “Yes, I sure would.”
Our team clergyman was Fr. Bob Douglas. He and I took John to the back room where the team’s half-dozen member prayer team met. I prayed as they all laid hands on him and entered into intercession. John’s eyesight began improving. We prayed three more times, asking him to look each time and let us know if his vision improved. John was blown away to be able to see again, after thirteen years of blindness. Some of the prayer team said they had never seen a miracle before!
But John’s healing was even more dramatic than that. He had been walking with a cane because he had a painful condition in his lower right leg. He was scheduled for surgery. He told us that when we prayed for his eyes, his leg was healed too.
Fr. Bob invited him to share with everyone what the Lord had done for him. Because of John’s healing testimony, other people asked to schedule a time with the prayer team and several of them received significant healing also. They shared their testimonies. We began seeing other indications that the Spirit of God had invaded our gathering. The atmosphere in the room changed and Jesus Christ had his way with us that day and the next. People were touched and changed by the presence of God. A number of people made new commitments to God during those two days. I don’t believe any of us remained unchanged after experiencing God’s amazing presence that weekend.
That weekend gave us another glimpse of what the Church can be. We can give our surrounding community an encounter with the Presence of God. That is what our Lord intended His Church to be and do. All we need to do is make room for the Holy Spirit to nudge us so we can act in obedience to Him, and then allow Him to have his way in our midst.
I look forward to the day when the Church all over America catches on to this thing the Lord is giving us glimpses of, and we bring transformation to people by the dozens and hundreds and even thousands by providing them real encounters with our powerful, loving God.
I hope you can catch this vision,
Junior Warden's Report
It is that time of the year when everything is winding down and we start to prepare for the New Year. This has been my first year as Junior Warden and it has been a busy one. Lots of repairs and up-keeps have taken place and everyone has been very helpful in accomplishing those many tasks. Moving forward, there are still lots to be done but some things take more funds than we have available. So we must be patient and wait or we can reach a little further into our pockets and pledge to support the church maintenance and grounds.
On another note, many have inquired how the Healing Center is coming along. We thought it would be done back in the summer but the County Inspectors had different ideas. We were so close and even had a written “Final” when an inspector for that final was fired and we had to dig up the concrete pilings and treat them with termite protection. Task completed and we are good to go! Not so fast! Now the County wants engineering drawings for all the utility work that has been done to compare with the original drawings. That requires each utility company being involved and they were our longest delays. Our General Contractor and the Land Engineers have never heard of it and the County said “It is something new and not of record.” Frustration continues and costs grow.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Steve Van Loan
Do you know of someone who would like prayer
Would you like to be a part of our Prayer Team?
ARE YOU READY?
It is my hope that you and your family, had a joyous Christmas celebration. One that provided you with all the joy and laughter that this season provides. Well, we are now in the year 2023. Thanks be to God; we have made it. A Happy and Prosperous New Year to you and your family.
The title of my discourse today is “ARE YOU READY?” We are now a few weeks into the New Year. Have you decided how you will serve God this New Year? There so many reasons why you might decide to do nothing. You might even say, I am not worthy to be used by God. But I tell you today, history is replete with so many of our Biblical leaders who saw themselves useless in the eyes of God, but He saw redemptive features that He could use.
So, as you contemplate your usefulness or lack of, remember, Abraham thought that he was too old, but God chose him as the prophet to initiate a covenant. Look at Joseph, he was loved by Jacob but hated by his brethren to the extent that they sold him. Yet he maintained his faith throughout the trials, knowing that God would deliver him in the glory of His justice.
Samson was called by the Lord to help free the Israelites from the Philistines. God made a covenant with Sampson that as long as he obeyed the covenant, he would remain strong. Samson, despite his weakness of the flesh, was used by God.
Look at Gideon and Moses, Gideon was afraid when God approached him, yet God used him to steer the Israelites back from idol worship. Moses, despite his speech impediment, God used him to deliver His commandments. Noah was a drunk, yet God used him. David, an adulterer, and a murderer was also used by God.
The list goes on and on. So, this new year as you contemplate your usefulness to God, look at those who preceded you. Give yourself to God, let Him decide whether He wants you. You might be surprised; He will find a way to use you.
So, my sisters and brothers, as you start this new year, listen to that still soft voice of God calling you. He needs you, SJD needs you.
In God’s Grace and Peace,
Aubrey V. Thompson
Ramblings of an Over-Caffeinated, Sleep Deprived, Child Rearing, Millennial:
Hello everyone! I just want to quickly thank my volunteers who have kept our AV Booth running for 2022! Howard Roshaven & Tim Hudson for your continued and constant support. Gerry Gardner, Mark Hunter, & all the other people who have jumped into the booth as last-minute substitutes. Stephanie Molina for joining us this year and for being so open to learning. And Tommy Blair who had continued to work in the booth when we really needed his help since leaving for college. These volunteers make the audio, projectors, live streams, and recording happening for all to enjoy.
Thank you all for your support,
Tristan M. Warner
Media & Tech Specialist
Sponsoring flowers for Sunday is a wonderful way to celebrate, honor, or remember a special person or an event, such as a birthday, anniversary, or achievement. Only $30 is the recommended donation for such an occasion. There is also opportunity to contribute to the purchase lilies for Easter.
Flowers used on Sunday are subsequently arranged in smaller bouquets, which are taken to people in hospitals or to those who are homebound. Although many recipients thoughtfully return vases to be used again, there is currently a shortage. The Flower Guild needs quart and pint size vases; however, they do not need bud vases. Anyone having some to donate, may bring them to church and leave them on the counter under the large bulletin board in the parish hall. They will be much appreciated.
The Flower Guild is looking for a few adventurous men and women, with talent they may not know they have, to arrange flowers for God's house. No experience is required. Guided training is provided. Anyone wishing to discover your hidden talent may email email@example.com or call/text at 941-545-8132.
Grief Support January 2023
Grief, loss, and death are indeed an inherent part of this earthly life. A very close friend of mine’s mother, Margaret de Wetter, wrote and illustrated several poetry collections. She died in 2018 leaving a wonderful legacy of service and faith. Here is what she wrote in a poem titled,
We must not grow too fond,
too fond of morning
when the sun is bright,
too fond of winter
when the ground is white,
too fond of Chopin’s fluid notes,
too fond of mountains
or of whiskered mountain goats.
And in the end, we must not grow
too fond of living. A portico,
this fragile earth is meant to be
a prelude to eternity.
Her words invite us to cherish life and all the wonder within it. But we are also reminded not to cling too tightly to what we find here. Indeed, we are living a prelude to eternity. Such a prelude was lived by Jesus in his life on earth and the path to eternity is promised through His resurrection.
The Grief Support Group at Saint John Divine offers more than just discussions for those who have lost someone. Grief is a natural process. It isn't a disorder or an illness. You may be grieving about anything you've lost, whether it's a loved one or a job or something that had meaning for you.
We meet every month on the 2nd and 4th Mondays at 10:00 AM in the Wirick Room in the Banner building. When you feel the need, we can be there for you.
Triple T Ministry
“A tenth of the produce of the land,
whether grain or fruit, is the Lord’s and is holy.”
“In our Triple T Ministry, we focus on the gratitude we have for the abundance of God’s providence in our personal lives and our community and how we can share our time, talent, and treasure.”
The past few months we have been focusing our messages on treasure, since the pledge campaign is so important for the development of the 2023 SJD Budget. As we approach the end of this campaign and the need to approve the budget, we note we are falling short. While we want to thank everyone that has already made a financial commitment, there are some parishioners that haven’t yet made a commitment or might consider increasing their pledge. In this light, we offer these passages from scripture for your thoughtful consideration.
The poor widow (Mark 12:41-44) gave all that she had to live on. Zacehaeus (Luke 19:1-10) was a rich man and gave half of his possessions. Jesus observed people giving their alms and understood the hearts of the givers. Giving generously is a blessing that we all have experienced. But how do we decide how much to give to the church? Do we just pick an amount that seems “fair”, or perhaps the same amount as last year since the church seemed to get by financially.
Perhaps we should approach our giving through tithing. Many of us shudder at that word. The tithe is the percentage given to the church in relation to one’s pre-tax disposable income. The Judeo-Christian standard is 10%. We know that few reach that bar, but the calculation remains critically important in evaluating where we are on the generosity scale between the poor widow (100%) and the rich man who offers a few silver coins from his great wealth (<1%).
As you prayerfully consider the amount to pledge, consider these questions. What was the percentage of income that you gave in 2022? What would it require to give a larger percentage in 2023 in support of the many ministries and mission of SJD.
His yoke is easy. His burden is light. It is a small price as we seek the joy and peace which passes all understanding.
Your Triple T team
EPIPHANY POTLUCK DINNER FRIDAY JANUARY 6
MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR OUR UPCOMING EPIPHANY DINNER FOLLOWED BY SERVICE.
DINNER WILL BE A POTLUCK SO PLEASE THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU MIGHT LIKE TO BRING. DINNER WILL BE SERVED AT 5:00 AND SERVICE WILL FOLLOW.
WE WILL PROVIDE THE CAKE & DESSERTS
Jackie & Barbara
Good Shepherd Ministry
At St. John Divine one aspect of our mission is “Caring for God’s People” because, as Christians, we are called to value and support one another. The Good Shepherd Ministry was created to minister to people in our congregation who are housebound or have limited ability to get out -- members who are lonely, shut in, or in need of prayer and conversation.
We are seeking referrals from you. Do you know a shut-in parishioner who would enjoy regular visits from a caring volunteer? Someone who would chat with or read to them—or just be present with them? If so, contact Susan Morgan at 908.783.4986 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would also welcome new people to our ministry group. Our next meeting is Thursday, January 12, at 2:00 pm in the Banner Building (Dons Room). Please join us!
Susan Morgan (Chair)
Jo Arendt Ronda O’Farrell
Greg Diehl Shirley Smith
Linda Dolph Clare Thompson
Linda Duhn Jodi Waldron
Liz Hood Jackie Winder
Join a Foyer Group!
It's not too late to sign up!
As noted in previous issues of Revelations, Foyer Groups are small gatherings of five to seven parishioners who meet periodically over a six-month period at locations away from the church (usually in homes) for a meal or activity. We will be kicking off our second round of Foyers in early January and it will run through June 2023.
We are offering three options:
· Traditional potluck supper
· Dessert and games
· Eating out
There is no agenda -- groups design their own format. Once you sign up you will receive help in getting started.
You can join by adding your name to the signup sheet on the kiosk table in the Parish Hall, located outside the sanctuary doors, or contact any member of the organizing team and let them know your preference:
Linda Floyd at Lfloyd21@tampabay.rr.com or (813) 642-8002
Linda Duhn at Lduhn06@gmail.com or (407) 340-1713
Doug Roderick at email@example.com or (843) 283-2941
Jackie Winder at Jtw5496@gmail.com or (813) 633-3198
If you wish to give online, please scan or click the QR Code
Michelle Grady - 1/2
Kim Sessoms - 1/2
Linda Burmeister - 1/4
Mary Lane Kullmann - 1/5
Hilda Knight - 1/5
Raymond Rios - 1/5
Pheonix Guadalupe - 1/5
Norah Warner - 1/6
Daniel Gifford - 1/7
Susan Howell - 1/8
Frances Doyle - 1/8
Peyton Espinoza - 1/10
Patty Bohart - 1/11
Winnie Wright - 1/13
Georgiana Merish - 1/14
Juliet Thompson - 1/14
Asher Fraser - 1/14
Steve Csintyan - 1/16
Kathy Thomas - 1/16
Armand Villemaire - 1/16
Chet Budziak - 1/16
Frank Ray - 1/18
Sue Warner - 1/19
Diane Wiggins - 1/20
Yvonne Clarke - 1/23
Maryln Cordle - 1/28
Emma Selvey - 1/28
Dee Ayers - 1/29
Karen Stapleton - 1/30
Paulette Diehl - 1/31
Berne Clary - 1/31
Howard Roshaven -- Sr. Warden, Steve Van Loan -- Jr. Warden, Val Bryant -- Clerk
Marianne Strehar, Greg Diehl, Linda Duhn,
Don Fisher, Linda Floyd, Mary Lane Kullmann,
Ralph Powell, Doug Roderick, Clare Thompson, Jackie Winder
Clergy and Staff
The Rt. Rev. Douglas F. Scharf
Bishop of the Diocese of Southwest Florida
The Rev. Kevin Warner - Rector
The Rev. Lee Miller - Associate Rector
Scott Gardner - Praise Leader; Valerie Southwell - Music Director
Connie Minnoe - Accounting Administrator; Cheryl Savini - Receptionist
Tristan Warner - Media & Tech Specialist,
Vivian Smalls - Nursery Coordinator; Denise Smalls, Angel Fujiwara - Nursery Attendants
St. John Divine Episcopal Church
1015 E. Del Webb Blvd. Sun City Center, FL 33573
813-633-3970 firstname.lastname@example.org www.stjohndivine.com
And join us on Realm