Volume 5, Number 41 | November 14, 2018
November 2018 Newsletter
Rev Jonathan Appleyard
"My hope is in living and serving as a priest with people whose diverse spiritual persuasions further mutual self-awareness and understanding, in communities and institutions that explore the sacred in all. The sacraments nurture and challenge us. I am a questioning Episcopalian whose hope deepens in connection with individuals, families, communities, businesses, and nationalities." - Fr. Appleyard
Soup Kitchen
Extra help is needed for our monthly serving at the soup kitchen. We are scheduled to serve the fourth Tuesday of the month at the Salvation Army, from 10 am to 1:30 pm. Our next scheduled date is Tuesday, November 27th. For more information, please see Nancy Henry or Phil Ulrich.
Prayer Shawl Knitting
Attention all knitters, the Prayer Shawl Knitting Group is meeting on Wednesday, November 28th at 1 pm in the Parish House Oratory All are welcome to join, both experienced and those who are looking to learn how to knit. 
Women's Book Group
The St. John’s Women’s Book Group will meet on Tuesday, November 27 at 2 pm at the home of Jane Zenk. We will be discussing the book Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill. The book is readily available at libraries, shops, on line, and on Kindle. Interested women are invited to attend. Please respond to Jane Zenk, 20 Poplar Dr., Orono; 866-1148, jzenkjzenk@gmail.com
Wreath Making
December 2 at 11:30 am . All are welcome to join in making Advent wreaths to bring home. We will have some aluminum dishes (as well as floral foam and greens) available, but please feel free to bring a plate or dish from home to make your wreath uniquely yours. If you have natural embellishments (berries, cones, etc.) in your yard, please bring them to share. We will also be preparing “Advent in a Bag”—faith formation activities for families to do at home. If you are not able to come and would like a bag, please let Anne-Marie know.
Lessons & Carols
Please invite your friends and neighbors to join us on Sunday, December 16th, at 4 pm for Advent Lessons and Carols. This popular annual service in preparation for Christmas will feature familiar carols. The service is followed by our festive Advent Tea. Child care provided.
A Message From Dr. Webb Parker

Many of you have asked for the text for the hymn I sang to open our service this past Sunday. A PDF of the hymn text and tune can be found here: O God This Day We Grieve  I would also encourage you to explore this contemporary hymn writer’s website. Her words are fresh, poignant, and beautifully constructed. www.carolynshymns.com
Mission More than Money
Part I: Being Good Stewards of Money
Eric Boberg, Stewardship Committee
Even when our church has a financially healthy year, it is difficult to pray about stewardship and make pledging decisions. Add a looming building repair that is five times our total annual pledge amount, and it becomes even more difficult. Questions like ‘ what is the best use of my resources , ‘ can we afford it ’, and ‘ what am I supporting ’ can quickly become complicated to answer.
Have you asked yourself why it is difficult? I have, and it comes down to one underlying issue: money. Money can indeed complicate, which is why it is so important to remember our mission at St. John’s. Be guided by mission more than money .
Being good stewards of money . I would love to remodel my kitchen. We have original 1970’s yellow Formica counters, water damage under the sink and dishwater, dark, mostly fake oak cabinets, and a refrigerator that doesn’t fit in its space. Yet, it functions just fine as a kitchen, and have come to the realization that I would rather spend my money on more important things. All of us knowingly or unknowingly have a value system, and part of that system is our spending habits. Have you thought about your value system recently? There is a story I would like to share that had helped shaped mine - I hope you can share your story as well.
About ten years ago, I won free groceries for a year at a Hannaford drawing. Honestly, I don’t even remember filling out any entry forms, but I was presented 52 Hannaford gift cards for $100 each. Happy days, right? I had $5,200 of free money to spend at Hannaford, and my grocery budget could go to other things. So I started using them. Then, after a few weeks, something happened - an awareness of shoppers who were less fortunate - the mom with a child in one hand and calculator in the other - the young couple arguing over whether to buy that extra box of Rice-A-Roni. So began the shift from happy to humble. I gave a bunch of the gift cards to my church to be used for those within the church in need, and started keeping some with me for those special opportunities in the grocery store where I could help someone in need. I kept it purely random - like giving a card to the couple behind me at checkout who was worried if they had enough money for their groceries. And through this experience, I had changed. I no longer thought of money as the end goal. Helping others was the end goal that returned so much more happiness than spending those gift cards on myself. As a matter of fact, money got in the way of what the real ending goal is. That ending goal defines our mission.
I challenge you to reflect on your past, and how your own experiences have shaped your value system.
Next month, Part 2, Where there is a mission… will explore our mission at St. John’s, and how our mission fits into our stewardship decisions.
Sunday School/Youth Update

Our new faith formation program is off to a great start. We have been using a new children’s chapel model, where kids begin worship with their families, depart briefly for an age-appropriate liturgy of the word, and rejoin the congregation at Communion. Faith formation continues with activities at Coffee Hour. Faith, Page, Alisa, Jenny and I have been enjoying our kids and also the evolution of our program as it develops. The lessons using legos have been very popular. Soon we will be concluding our unit on the Book of Luke (as our parish has read this together). During Advent, our stories will focus on preparing for the coming of Jesus, learning how the church prepares together, and hearing the stories of the beginning of Jesus’ life.
We have begun helping at Second Saturday service on a regular basis. Children gather around 11:30 to make the peanut butter sandwiches and to assist with serving. Please let me know if you and your child would like to participate. I’m hoping to continue to expand our outreach offerings for children and families, so please let me know if you have ideas.
We have some special family activities coming up. On Dec. 2 we will make Advent wreaths during Coffee hour. We will also have some simple materials ready for you to take home for your own family Advent observance. There will be family activities, some simple crafts, and a surprise or two. On Dec. 16, the church Advent Lessons and Carols will be held at 4 pm. This is always a beautiful service, often enjoyed by kids (nursery provided, too) – as is the Advent Tea, which features many cookies. On Friday, Dec. 21, we will have Grinch Night at 6:30 in the Bangor Room. There will be simple crafts, snacks, and a showing of the classic Grinch. The family Christmas Eve service is held at 4 pm on Dec. 24. We are also planning a caroling outing to our home-bound members—stay tuned for more details.
Thank you for letting us be a piece of your children’s faith formation. Please let me know if you have questions, concerns, or feedback about our programs.
Our Senior YES group has begun preparing for confirmation. We gathered for a retreat in September—here are a few pictures. We had a surprise visit from the Bishop (who was doing parish visits on MDI the weekend we were there). The kids learned a lot and had a good time bonding with one another as a group. We have begun our Confirm not Conform lessons, which are held on the second Sunday of the month. On the fourth Sundays, kids gather with their mentors for lessons or activities. Our kids are actively engaged in the St. John’s Community, acolyting, helping in the nursery, and working at Second Saturday.
Our Jr. YES group is in the process of coming together. We meet on the second and fourth Sundays, with the fourth Sunday being a time to visit the Humane Society and volunteer. We are enjoying some fun activities together and are working to get to know one another.
Adult Education & Formation

We have two programs scheduled for December:

Hearts & Hands: Peaceful Contemplation of the Season

Join us in the chapel on the four Sundays of Advent (Dec 2 nd , 9 th , 16 th , and 23 rd ) at 11:45 for a 45-minute interlude of peace amidst the (borderline) chaos that December can be for many of us. Bring your handwork and listen to the monks of SSJE, and others, as they chant some of the sacred music of this anticipatory season. Or come sit quietly for a few minutes as you contemplate the candle-lit icons.

Book Discussion: Who Needs God?, by Rabbi Harold Kushner

This a marvelous book to read over the Advent season. Kushner invites his readers to rethink the role of religion in their lives. Although he is a rabbi who loves his own tradition, Kushner speaks to and about people of all faiths. His message is at once gentle yet forceful. 

Here is a quote from the first chapter that will provide you a foretaste of Rabbi Kushner’s message:
But for the religious mind and soul, the issue has never been the existence of God but the importance of God, the difference that God makes in the way we live. To believe that God exists the way you believe that the South Pole exists, though you have never seen either one, to believe in the reality of God the way you believe in the Pythagorean theorem, as an accurate abstract statement that does not really affect your daily life, is not a religious stance. A God who exists but does not matter, who does not make a difference in the way you live, might as well not exist. He would be like a modern European king, a benevolent figurehead trotted out for ceremonial occasions and beloved by everyone because he never does anything.  The issue is not what God is like.   The issue is what kind of people we become when we attach ourselves to God . This, then, is our question: In a world where atheists are often wonderful people and ostensibly religious people disappoint us, in a world where God is a remote presence even for people who claim to believe in Him, what promise does religion hold for us? What can it offer? What difference does it really make in our lives?

Good question, don’t you think?

We are going to try a different approach with this book. There will be two sessions : one offered between services (approximately 9:15-10:00) on December 9 th , 16 th , and 23 rd , and another on Wednesdays following the noontime healing service on December 5 th , 12 th , and 19 th . The Wednesday sessions will start at approximately 1:15 and end by 2:00. Please come to the first session of either group having read the Introduction and chapters 1-3. 

Even if you feel that you cannot commit to attending either of the two sessions, please consider reading the book on your own. Make reading it a gift to yourself during the Christmas or Epiphany seasons when several copies will be made available to borrow from our library.
Christmas Baskets

St. John’s has a special Christmas project -- We provide toys and food to needy families that are serviced by Penquis Cap. The project is funded entirely by donations from St. John’s parishioners. There are two ways that you can help:  Buy a $20 gift for a child - On November 25 we will have the names and ages of about 30 kids from Penquis Cap. You can pick one child or several kids and buy at least one gift for that child that costs around $20. Please wrap, label, and return the gifts to the church office by December 16th. You can also choose to meet the family and give it to them in person. 

The second way you could help is by donating money to help pay for the cost of a food basket - St. John’s gives a turkey and enough food to make a Christmas dinner to these Penquis Cap families. We will deliver the food and presents to them at the Venture Way Child Care Center on December 16th. It costs about $85 for each basket of food. If we help 15 families this year that will cost $1,275. You can donate now to help pay for the Christmas Baskets. Please write a check and put Christmas Basket Project in the memo line. For further information contact Cassy Palmer, 949-9040.
St. John's Episcopal Church | 207-947-0156 | stjohnsbangor.org