JANUARY 15, 2021
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On June 18th, 2018 we got a phone call. I was in the middle of helping at a local church’s vacation bible school program and the familiar 777 number popped on on my phone. 777 is the first three digits of a number of county departments, including CPS, or child protective services. It was a number we knew because we had been licensed foster parents since September of 2017, and had field a 4 placements prior to this phone call, all for relatively short periods of time.

“Are you willing to take a baby, a newborn, specifically?” The social worker asked me. They tell you in your training that spouses should be on the same page with how you will answer these sorts of questions. Workers, and more importantly, the kids need quick answers. They need to know so they can continue with the important work of assessments and record-taking. “Yes,” I answered. About 4 hours later we had a 5 pound, 18 day old baby.

Two years and 195 days later, on December 30th, Montgomery County finalized our adoption of our precious daughter, a blessing to us every single day. Within that time frame there were countless visits, 7+ court days, monthly social worker check-ins, 2 re-licensing processes, 30 hours of continuing education, unfathomable numbers of prayers, and so many feelings. Love was the strongest emotion, but also empathy for her biological parents, worry about “the right end result,” pity for the systemic poverty and realities over generations that led to this particular baby being in this circumstance, not to mention frustration, confusion, heart-ache involved.

There is important work in the big issues of the world. When we read about the hundreds of kids in foster care in Maryland, the problem seems so large, with so many underlying causes, that it is hard to know where to begin. But when it comes down to it, each reality boils down to one family, one child, that needs love and support.

Foster care isn’t everyone’s call. Our family is in the process of discerning what comes next for our ministry call- more fostering? Or something related? Something else entirely? Most issues, however grand and expansive, from food insecurity, to animal welfare, to environmental sustainability, to addiction, to poverty, have both macrocosm levels and microcosm levels. We are not all called to the macro. What we saw in fostering was both - the big systems and the kid. Truthfully, the big systems easily overwhelms us and takes away our feeling of agency to shine the light of the Gospel.

In the movie Frozen 2, which I have seen innumerable times, there is a point where one sister is left alone, thinking her older sister has died, her best friend has dissolved into snowflakes and her boyfriend is miles away, and she is left with the knowledge that the thing that must be done is the thing that she fears the most. Anna sings:
"Take a step, step again
It is all that I can to do
The next right thing
I won't look too far ahead
It's too much for me to take
But break it down to this next breath, this next step
This next choice is one that I can make
So I'll walk through this night
Stumbling blindly toward the light
And do the next right thing”

We are called to the small steps that bring the gospel light ever closer. That may be adding some items to your grocery list each week to fill our food pantry. That may be taking care of a child while their family figures some needs out or until the courts realize that you are that child’s family. That may be serving as a tutor to children who are needing additional support during the pandemic. That may be helping St. John’s figure out the next steps in our quest to be more sustainable. Just do the next right thing in your discipleship.

As our newly legal daughter transitioned to a big girl bed, our neighbor and friend called us up. “We got a call for a baby girl” they said. “We are picking her up from the hospital. Do you happen to have a crib?” One child in her forever family, a new child in the midst of turmoil. The love is real however, and one child at a time, one can at a time, one lesson at a time, one new sapling at a time, we do the next right thing to bring the Gospel into our community.

In Christ,
Mo. Shivaun+
THIS SUNDAY, JANUARY 17th at 10:30 am
Keeping you connected by using this as a time to worship together

Join ZOOM Morning Prayer

Meeting ID: 890 5309 5146
Passcode: STJEC

Morning worship continues to be available on STJEC YouTube channel
SUNDAY FORUM
Sunday Mornings @ 9am

"Your Faith, Your Life: an Invitation to the Episcopal Church”
by Jenifer Gamber

Meeting ID: 833 0378 8008
Password: STJEC
COMPLINE
Now on ZOOM
Wednesday evenings at 7pm
Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 867 2402 6403
Passcode: STJEC
CONFIRMATION CLASS

Virtual Confirmation class begins in February and is scheduled to be held for an hour every other week
through the month of April.
"My Faith, My Life" by Jenifer Gamber,
(available on Kindle through Amazon)
will be used for the class.
 
Interested in confirmation?
Contact Mother Shivaun. 
THE ANNUAL MEETING of ST. JOHN'S
Sunday, January 31st @ 10am via Zoom

The meeting will include a vote for Vestry candidates,
(Anna Mazzucco; Carolyn Schoop;
& Stephen Simpson)
the Warden’s Report,
and the Rector’s report.

ZOOM Details coming soon.
LIGHT A LAMP FOR JESUS

"For Where Your Treasure is,
There Your Heart Will Be Also"
SUNDAY COFFEE HOUR
Sundays @ 11am - Noon

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Meeting ID: 870 3415 1920
Password: STJEC
ESTHER DEEL
Sundays @ 12 -1pm

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Meeting ID: 830 8468 5432
Password: STJEC
FAMILY COFFEE HOUR
Sun. January 10 @ 11:30am

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Meeting ID: 967 598 3901
Password: EpiscoKid
SUNDAY SCHOOL
PreK-2nd @ 9:15AM
3rd-5th @ 9:30AM

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Meeting ID: 967 598 3901
Password: EpiscoKid
YOGA WITH LORI
Thursday @ 7pm via ZOOM
*$10 donation per class

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Meeting ID: 886 0469 6309 Passcode: yoga
VIRTUAL RECORDING READERS
9am Thursday mornings in the church

*Please remember to wear a mask
for your safety and that of others

Thursday, Jan. 21 - ???
Thursday, Jan. 28 - Will Lederer
Thursday, February 4 - ???

AT-HOME EUCHARIST

To receive delivery of
pre-consecrated Host,
contact the office at 301.774.6999
or request on
Use this list to pray for the sick,
shut-in, bereaved, or those merely
in need of prayer.


Rick
Trevor
Ryder
Sherine
Ava
Richard Kusik
Bishop James Almasi
The Loudon Family
Pam Brekke
Shirley Talbot
Michael
Matthew Skube
Will Bartley
Frances Hunt
Catherine Cant
Peter
John Daniel
Stan Simpson
Linda Niemczyk
Beblon Parks
Cheryl
Mary Persinger
Maura Parker
Chris Prinz
ST. JOHN'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
3427 Olney-Laytonsville Road
Olney, MD 20832
301-774-6999