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 Friends in Christ,
Perhaps you've heard of the professor who entered into his class and silently took out a large jar which he filled with rocks to the brim. He asked his class, "Is the jar full?" To which many of them answered, "yes." The professor reached down and took out a container of crushed stones and pebbles and poured them also into the jar, where they fell into small crevices and the space between the rocks. Then he asked again, "Is the jar full?" Fewer people said "yes," which was wise because then he took out a bucket of sand and poured that into the jar. The sand fell down into the jar, filling spaces left between the pebbles. And he asked again, "Is the jar full?" The class was fairly silent. The professor reached down one last time and pulled out a pitcher of water and carefully filled the jar to the brim. He put it down, looked at the class, and said, "Now it is full". Then he asked them, "What have you learned?" A hand shot up, and a student answered, "that there's always more room. When you think you've reached your capacity, you can always do more." "No," the professor said. "What you've learned," he paused and continued, "is that you must always put your rocks in first." "If you don't put your big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all." (Adapted from Steven Covey)
Rocks in first - Isn't this what Jesus has been teaching us this season? "Teacher, what is the greatest commandment?" Jesus was asked in our Gospel Sunday. Rocks in first - You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Rocks in first - Before All Else (BAE as my kids say), love the Lord your God with your whole self.
We know from experience what a struggle this can be. When we try to give our day to God with firm intention, we know how hard it is to live it through out the day. From our month of focus on stewardship, we know it's hard. Loving God first changes our priorities, changes how we see our lives- how we see the world and other people. While loving God with our whole selves may be hard, I believe it's also what brings our lives meaning and peace - as individuals and as a community. Loving God first means offering to God our whole selves, and as a result we see our lives as woven into God's purposes. That brings meaning and purpose. We see ourselves in a dynamic relationship with God and know ourselves as loved. Peace comes with that. Life becomes an adventure and change becomes a natural and necessary part of God's transformation.
Change becomes a natural and necessary part of God's transformation because loving God first and with our whole selves makes everything else secondary. It gives perspective, and so it makes us more flexible, more able to change, more eager to be a part of God's purposes.
This makes loving God first pretty important right now - because change is upon us. Bishop Lane noted this in his address at the
198th Convention of the Diocese of Maine
last Saturday. Bishop Lane quoted national and Diocesan statistics and stressed again how much the world is changing outside and inside the church, and our need to respond. He lifted up the Living Local initiative (of which we have been a part), and the importance of forming relationships with our neighbors, going to the places where people already gather and forming relationships there, if we are to share the love of God and the Gospel. As he emphasized the need for us to respond to change, he named positive movements around the Diocese that he sees. He didn't mention St. John's by name, but he might have. It is clear that change is upon us too: The safety scaffolding and the huge John Deere bucket lift on our lawn tell us that nothing stays the same; so do the 4 deaths we've experienced this past month, and the 3 baptisms we'll celebrate next Sunday. God has begun restructuring our church, as a building and as a living community too. And we are beginning to respond.
In our cottage meetings last spring, we heard a desire for us to be a more versatile and flexible community - in our diversity of membership, in our worship, and with our space too. We heard a desire to engage and bring into our fellowship our neighbors and younger generations. In response (and in a very low cost manner) our Vestry has decided to experiment with new forms of worship, formation, and space. For an experimental period of time, the Vestry has decided to remove our chapel pews to create more flexible space for worship and study gatherings. Antique chairs from St. Mary's by the Sea in Northeast Harbor will soon be loaned to us to provide flexible but attractive seating. Sunday was a first try at an ecumenical evening worship in our chapel, reaching out especially to families whose kids are involved in sports every Sunday morning. Renee Garrett of All Souls and I led our worship with lots of singing at 5pm for an informal service we're calling, "God Be Praised." It lasted 30 minutes and was an uplifting, peaceful end to the day. We will try again the last Sunday of November, the 26th, and the end of the Thanksgiving weekend. Adult Education forums and discussion groups will begin meeting in the chapel on Wednesdays and Sundays. Other initiatives are under discussion - such as Redeemer Lutheran would like to join with us to offer the wider community Taize worship, especially for those who call themselves "spiritual but not religious". How do we reach these neighbors? How do we respond to the changes around us and within our community? How can we be like Paul who loves his neighbor as himself by forming relationships with people in the community, sharing the Gospel with them by giving them himself? He described this in his letter last Sunday to the Thessalonians: "So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us." Paul is telling us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and by doing so we share God's love with them.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.
Yes, changes are upon us and we will respond with trusting in God and loving our neighbor. We will be a part of God's transformation - a part of his design for his Holy Church and for St. John's, Bangor - Just so long as we remember to put our rocks in first.
So I urge you to continue coming to worship; invest in the opportunities coming for study; renew your sense of discipleship and your relationship with Christ. Love our neighbors -get to know them. Take part in our conversations about both our building and our future. Offer your time and your perspective as we listen together for the future to which God is calling us.
I give thanks for being part of God's holy adventure with you.
Yours in Christ,
(article adapted from the sermon preached October 29, 2017, St. John's, Bangor)
Episcopal Transition Updates
To read the full letter concerning the upcoming diocesan transition process please click here.
Dear Friends in Christ:
As part of our committed effort to communicate regularly with the Diocese about the process for discernment, election and consecration of the 10th Bishop of Maine, the Standing Committee offers the following information about the next steps in the Transition Timeline. Click on the links to review the information in the Call to Election letters from Bishop Lane and the Standing Committee...
Related Note: If you would like to read the most recent Convention Address from Bishop Lane, please click here.
Senior Warden's Remarks
We have reached the end of October, our Stewardship month. I want to start, appropriately, with a word of thanks: To Nyree O'Donald and Faith Erhardt of our Stewardship Committee, for bravely sharing their personal stories with us this month. To our Friends of Stewardship, and to all of you who have made your pledges already. I am happy to report, and you can see on our pledge "thermometer" in the Narthex, that we are already almost two-thirds of the way toward our pledge goal. We have had a few decreased pledges, we have had many more increased pledges, and there are several new pledges as well. So warm thanks to all of you.
But the work of pledging is not yet done; there is still that one-third left to go. And I have good news and bad news about pledging.
The bad news is, pledging helps to meet our operating expenses. Operating expenses!
That's bad news because we aren't easily moved to commit our hard-earned money to pay the church's bills. To cover the expenses that constitute the day-to-day functioning of the church. It's not sexy or glamorous or exciting to think about it that way.
But here's the good news: Do you know what is sexy and glamorous and exciting? God's Good News, and the manifestation of God's kingdom on earth. A world reconciled in Christ. What's even more exciting than that is being a part of the mission to bring that world into being.
By supporting St. John's staff, by supplying our materials, facilitating our communications, and otherwise keeping our operations running reliably, you make everything else we do possible. Pledge income is our infrastructure for the work we do toward living Christ's Word in the world, and toward realizing God's kingdom.
Allow me to break it down:
Your pledge makes it possible for us to worship God, celebrate, and even mourn in this beautiful space, by supporting our gifted and tireless staff and clergy. On Commitment Sunday we sang a hymn with a tune composed by our own choirmaster. We are able to organize and offer special services to the community such as our Wednesday healing Eucharist, Evensongs, funerals, and this week's upcoming choral Requiem Mass.
Your pledge makes it possible for us to grow in our faith and fellowship through Christian formation. Consider our dedicated Education for Ministry group, or our soon-to-be-revealed program of mostly small-group adult education offerings for this coming year. Stay tuned!
Your pledge makes it possible to bring up our children in this faith, and to pass on the love and message of Christ to them. To support creative curriculum materials for Sunday School. To present our three-year-olds - I believe we have six this year - with their first Bibles. To give our teens experiences like volunteering and mission trips that show them how they can be part of the Word of Christ in action.
Your pledge makes it possible for us to nourish and supply our Bangor-area sisters and brothers through events like our Rummage Sale, and through feeding ministries like Second Saturday, one of an array of community meals offered around the city and something that people in need have come to count on.
Operating expenses: Not sexy.
Feeding hungry people: That's sexy! Raising children to know the love of God: Sexy. Modeling ourselves and our world after the example of Christ: You guessed it - sexy.
And, as Faith pointed out to us last week, giving of our blessings activates the pleasure centers in our brains, so it too - just in itself - is sexy and exciting.
Your pledge is an act of spiritual discipline - like coming to church, or kneeling, or saying the Daily Office, or knitting a shawl, or thanking God before meals or for bringing us to another day. Your pledge is committing your treasure in a personal observance of your faith. It's living out your faith in the eyes of your family. Your pledge is a practice of gratitude that can result in a happier, more fulfilling life in general.
Your pledge makes it all possible. That's not good news, that's great news! So if you have not yet done so, please make your pledge as soon as you can, so that we can continue our work of making God's love known.
Thank you all, and keep up the good work.
Reflections on Stewardship and St. John's
Three weeks ago, I was sitting in the pews mid-service and remembered that I was due to give my quarterly check. I pulled out my checkbook and started the business of writing - Noah has returned from Sunday school and I didn't realize he was watching me.
As I filled in the check, his eyes widened and he nudged me in the ribs- "MOM,!" he said in a too-loud-for-church kind of whisper, "What are you doing?? That is so much money!!"
In that moment I realized a couple of things. Until that point, I had given my kids a dollar or two to put in the collection basket - it was whatever I had in my bag at the time, and it's always at the last minute because I never have cash with me these days. I think of it as a symbol for them, a way to say that this is a regular way that we share what we have with others.
But it's a sloppy signal. In that moment, mid-check, I looked at Noah. Until this point, his understanding of giving money to St. John's was approximately equivalent to what we spend for Skittles in the penny candy machine at Pat's when we pick up pizza on Friday nights.
I had always written the check at home, out of sight. I tuck it away - unintentionally -like a secret, a task kept away from regular family life.
So here's the thing. We talk about giving and generosity quite a bit at home. We write thank you cards (most of the time) and realize how fortunate we are. I'd give myself a solid C + for having the conversations and modeling some of the behavior I want to see from them.
But...we rarely talk specifically about money. I might say "it's not about money, it's the thought that counts..." and gloss over the dollars and cents of the matter.
Sometimes, though, it
about money. The Bible has a lot to say about money (side note - reportedly 2000 verses, and an entire website at Biblemoneymatters.com): it's an important issue. See, money is closely tied to our hearts. It's tied to our relationship with Jesus and the work he's called us to do. So I think it's important to talk about the money. Not just in times when things are broken and they need to be fixed (although that does happen) but regularly, as an opportunity to be sure that our money is being used in a way that represents our hearts.
My heart is here at St. John's. My heart believes in fostering and ensuring that a community of God is a constant in my life - and the lives of my kids. We are planting seeds, building foundations for the wonderful human beings (the owners related to us and the ones who are not) who will continue our community and worship here. I don't want them in a position where they have to sell this building to pay the bills. I want them to pray HERE. I want them to be married here, to sing here, to light candles here, to baptize babies here. I want them to look though the same beautiful windows and sit In this space.
I'm investing in this.
I'm putting my money here because my heart is here.
This is a beautiful way to invest local, in traditions that lift people up, and bring them together. We have good people here who lead with their hearts and make good decisions for this building and our community.
And by the way, a fantastic by-product of aligning your money with your heart is happiness. I know you know this anecdotally- "better to give than receive" right? - but hear this: scientific research provides data through fMRI technology that giving activates the same parts of our brain that are stimulated by food and sex. This from the August 2017 Time magazine "experiments show evidence that altruism is hardwired in the brain - its pleasurable. Giving may just be the secret to living a life that is not just happier but healthier, more productive and meaningful."
I think we all know who is responsible for our hard-wiring, am I right? He's clearly looking out for all of us. Our giving is an essential component of our spiritual formation.
So that's why I give. I'm doing my best to give time, too. I love that because it's such a clear and visual symbol of support and where you heart is. And I'd give myself a solid C+ there, too.
In my experience, though, my time given to St. John's has always been received in the most wonderful way: even on days when I'm running behind, feel frazzled and disorganized, you all open your arms and make me feel like a rockstar. It's the best. For those that feel like they can't squeeze in some time, believe me, I hear you. You can.
This morning I wrote another check. My kids were with me, and they couldn't help but figure out how many Lego Millennium Falcon sets they could buy with that amount. We talked about it; It was a few, for sure.
And then some. And that's the point.
Tim Pearson and Vanessa Young
In late spring of 2017, cracks began to appear in the façade of the front entrance of the church. During the summer months, these cracks quickly became more pronounced and we learned that the city was planning sewer / road work directly in front of the church this fall. In hopes to get the cracks taken care of prior to this road work, we contacted Doug McDougal of Sullivan and Merritt, a company we have dealt with in the past, to see if they could help us. During our meeting on September 25th, the Sullivan and Merritt representative pointed out what appears to be a serious issue with one of the pilasters on the south side of the tower. Sullivan and Merritt gave us a quote of $25,000 for repointing and to secure the pilaster.
In an effort to secure a second estimate, we contacted Ames and Associates, a group of architects and engineers, to see if they could help us. After a visual inspection of the façade and tower, they said that there was no quick fix and that repointing would only serve to mask the problems. Their recommendation in preparation for the roadwork was to measure and record the current cracks in the tower to establish a baseline for making insurance claims, and to set up safety scaffolding to help protect people during the construction. The Vestry decided to follow these recommendations and on October 18th, the safety scaffolding was installed, and on October 20th and 27th, the devices were placed to track the crack sizes and photos documented the condition of the tower.
Next up, on November 1st at 8:30am, we will be meeting with Chris Closs of the Maine Preservation Society for a pre-assessment for the "Steeple Fund". Once this is completed, we will move forward with the full assessment with Ames and Associates and Benjamin Cawley (the mason). The assessment will give us a complete picture of what is wrong with the tower. They will remove select stones to help them understand how the tower is constructed, remember, the building -including the tower, is wooden, the stone is a decorative façade. After this is completed, we will have a clear picture of what is causing the cracking, how to fix it, and what the price will be. If Chris Closs's pre-assessment comes back in our favor, we may qualify for a grant that will help to pay for the assessment, and possibly a second grant to assist in paying for some of the repairs. The grant to help pay for the repairs has an application date of May 1st.
In the meantime, the safety scaffolding will remain in place until repairs are made. Ben Cawley is working on a proposal for a "harness" to secure the pilaster that is separating from the building. This is a temporary fix that will keep the pilaster from falling. Sadly, the cold weather will keep any repairs from being done until spring 2018.
Why so many steps? Why not hire the contractor to repoint like we were planning to do? As Ben Cawley, the mason, said to us "Repointing is like putting on a band-aid, and this tower has a massive infection". Over the coming months, we will keep you updated with Parish meetings, Facebook updates (make sure to like our Facebook page), and reports in our newsletter. Our JR Warden and Office Manager are working together and are happy to answer any of your questions.
The repairs to the tower will be expensive. Let's all work together to "think outside the box". Please contact the Office Manager with any ideas you might have or any grants you may have heard of that will help us to rebuild the tower. You can call the office at 947-0156 or email her at
Donations Towards the Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief
Editors Note: Our Treasurer, Ross Moczo, who is from Puerto Rico, was asked how people could best support relief efforts in Puerto Rico. This is his response:
The following link is a site created by Ms. Beatriz Roselló (governor's spouse) in collaboration with businesses for hurricane relief purposes.
She's very well liked throughout the island, so the site has been well received for donations vs donations to standard int'l organizations where minimal percentages of donations may actually reach relief efforts.
Once there, the easiest way to donate is via the Paypal option. Clicking on that option will take you to the secure PayPal page (just make certain if you're looking to make a one time donation, not to click on the "Make this a monthly donation").
A New St. John's Episcopal Church Cook Book
In 1968-69 St. John's compiled and published (by Tom Benson's printing business) its first cook book. More than 40 women and two men submitted recipes. Many of the contributions at that time were from working parents, which may explain the preponderance of recipes for one-dish meals and sweets; even one for play-dough.
Now, almost 50 years later, we would like to celebrate St. John's 100th anniversary in February with a new cook book. This one will be filled with your well tested and much enjoyed recipes for Teas and Lemonade on the Lawn.
SWEETIES might include bars, cakes, tea breads, cookies, tarts and fruits on skewers.
SAVORIES could be sandwiches, spreads and fillings, cheese balls, scones and dips.
PUNCHES come in a variety of tasty concoctions, so please give us your favorites.
Consider holiday and festival treats: Mothering Cake for advent and King Cake for Lent, for instance.
There will be a stack of recipe file cards on the table in the sanctuary. Time is short for collecting and arranging the recipes in page form, then getting them printed. Please take the cards you need, write your recipes clearly, including directions for preparing and cooking times, and don't forget to sign them. Please leave your filled-in cards in the basket on the table.
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 26 we will have the names and ages of about 25 kids from Penquis Cap. You can pick one child or several and buy a gift for them that costs around $20. Please wrap, label, and return the gifts to the church office by December 17. You can also choose to meet the family and give it to them in person.
Donate money to help pay for the cost of the food - 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 17th. 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, 223-4122.
As north winds buff the leaves to golden glow
On upland slopes that run from east to west
A grove of beech trees stand in blue-gray vest
With burnished branches swaying to and fro.
The beeches bear the chilling winds that blow
By bending till the storm has reached its crest
And after storm winds pass they've fared the best
Who've humbly bowed their spreading branches low.
For one's proportioned lot's not always just
And why it must be, none can every say.
Though life's misfortunes sometimes come in gusts
You, too, can weather storms that come your way.
Bow to the winds of fate when e'er you must
And live unbroken for another day.
Brahms Requiem on All Souls' Day, Thursday, November 2 at 7 pm
Donations will benefit the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter.
The St. John's Choir will sing Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem in the context of a Requiem Eucharist for All Souls' Day. A German Requiem uses texts from the Bible instead of the traditional liturgical Latin text. Brahms himself said he would have gladly called the work "A Human Requiem." The overarching theme of the piece is comfort. Probably the most famous section is the beautiful fourth movement - in English translation "How lovely are thy dwellings." Join us for this special service to remember all faithful departed. Those coming to the service may wish to bring photos or mementos of loved ones to be placed on special tables during the service. All are invited to submit names to be remembered during the service - either by mailing them to the parish office or emailing them to
Vox Nova Chamber Choir on November 11 at 7:30 pm
Vox Nova based in Gardiner is one of the finest choirs in Maine, expertly presenting imaginative programs. They will present the first of their 2017-18 series Equinox and Solstice: The Four Seasons at St. John's on November 11. The program, Autumnal Equinox, includes music by Estonian composer Veljo Tormis, Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds, and Americans Morten Lauridsen, John Chorbajian, Norman Dello Joio, Dale Warland, Libby Larsen, and Jake Runestad. Admission charged.
Sunday, Dec 3, 4 pm - Advent Lessons and Carols
This popular annual service in preparation for Christmas will feature familiar carols such as Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming and Adam lay ybounden as well as new gems such as Voices in the Mist. The service is followed by our festive Advent Tea. Child care provided.
The time draws near the birth of Christ:
The moon is hid; the night is still;
The Christmas bells from hill to hill
Answer each other in the mist.
Four voices of four hamlets round,
From far and near, on mead and moor,
Swell out and fail, as if a door
Were shut between me and the sound.
Each voice four changes on the wind
That now dilate, and now decrease,
Peace and goodwill, goodwill and peace,
Peace and goodwill to all mankind.
-Words by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Announcements & Looking Ahead
Mark you calendar for the Brahms Requiem on All Souls' Day, Thursday, November 2 at 7 pm.
Donations will benefit the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter. Childcare provided.
The St. John's Choir will sing Brahms'
Ein deutsches Requiem
in the context of a Requiem Eucharist for All Souls' Day.
A German Requiem
from the Bible instead of the traditional liturgical Latin text. Brahms himself said he would have gladly called the work "A Human Requiem." The overarching theme of the piece is comfort. Probably the most famous section is the beautiful fourth movement - in English translation "How lovely are thy dwellings." Join us for this special service to remember all faithful departed. You are invited to submit names to be remembered during the service - either by mailing them to the parish office or emailing them to
Extra help is needed for our monthly serving at Second Saturday,
hosted here in the Undercroft.
We are scheduled to serve next on
November 11th from 11:30 am - 1:30 pm.
You don't need to sign up in advance, or even commit to coming monthly, just stop in to help out when you can. For more information, please see Nancy Henry.
Thanksgiving Eve Service
- Wednesday, November 22nd at 7 pm. St. John's Episcopal Church is sponsoring an opportunity to pause and be thankful with an inclusive multi-faith, multi-generational service.
HOMES FOR THE HOLIDAYS 2017 -
Saturday, December 2nd, from 12 - 4 pm.
Once again St. John's Episcopal Church is sponsoring the Homes for the Holidays Christmas house tour. This year the tour will include five historic homes located throughout the city of Bangor. A pamphlet will describe the historic and architecturally significant details of each house. Seasonal refreshments will be available at each site. The Bangor Area Children's Choir and the St. John's Episcopal Church choir will visit each home to sing seasonal carols. $25
Chapel Hill Floral,
St. John's Episcopal Church Office, e
ach home on the day of the tour.
FMI: Call St. John's Episcopal Church: 947-0156