A time to pray

I hope you will join me in holding vigil these next few days. Holding vigil is an ancient Christian tradition which involves private and corporate prayer, fasting, staying awake, keeping alert, and holding back judgment. Today in Chicago the jury in the Jason Van Dyke trial will begin deliberations; tomorrow the U.S. Senate will vote on whether to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Both decisions have already exposed deep divides between men and women, people of color and whites, police and civilians, rich and poor, the powerful and those on the margins. News stories push our buttons, and, depending on our own personal stories and experiences remind us of our own hurts, fears, anger, distrust, and pain. Every night we see, hear and read conversations about sex, racism, and politics; topics most of us were taught to avoid in “polite” company. But avoiding these stories or refusing to talk about these topics does not make them less real or less powerful. Truth has a way of coming out; not always immediately, not always completely or fairly, however, I believe that truth always exposes evil and is the beginning of justice. So I believe we need to pray for truth these next few days.

The doors of St. John’s will be open today and tomorrow, during the day and until dark; the garden is also open for prayer. If you can’t join us here join us in prayer at home, at work, on the bus, in your car. Fast if that keeps you focused. Stay awake. Light candles. Pray for yourself, for your family, your neighborhood, our city and this country. Hold back judgment. See and hear the people around you as God sees them, with empathy and love.

The most ancient Christian vigil is the Easter Vigil. Beginning at sundown on Saturday Christians stayed awake, sang, and prayed all night long until first dawn when they joyfully proclaimed the Easter “Alleluia!” We don’t know when resurrection will happen for the McDonald and the Van Dyke families, for police and civilians, for victims of gun violence and our neighbors. We don’t know when resurrection will happen for men and women, for victims of sexual violence and perpetrators, for our flawed institutions, for us. But I do believe resurrection does happen, and death and injustice is never the last word.

My friend and colleague Erica Schemper reminded me that Psalm 146 is helpful in times like this. I hope this song reminds you that Resurrection is promised by God, love always conquers death, and truth always brings justice.

Let my whole being praise the Lord!
I will praise the Lord with all my life;
I will sing praises to my God as long as I live.

Don’t trust leaders;
don’t trust any human beings—
there’s no saving help with them!
Their breath leaves them,
then they go back to the ground.
On that very same day, their plans die too.

The person whose help is the God of Jacob—
the person whose hope rests on the Lord their God—
is truly happy!
God: the maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
God: who is faithful forever,
who gives justice to people who are oppressed,
who gives bread to people who are starving!
The Lord: who frees prisoners.
The Lord: who makes the blind see.
The Lord: who straightens up those who are bent low.
The Lord: who loves the righteous.
The Lord: who protects immigrants,
who helps orphans and widows,
but who makes the way of the wicked twist and turn!

The Lord will rule forever!
Zion, your God will rule from one generation to the next!

Praise the Lord!

And please remember that prayer is the beginning of action. Prayer leads us to speak up, act out, protest, learn, write, vote, and change. Let us pray for guidance; and then let us work.

God’s Blessings,

Kara +

Anti-Racism Team

The Anti-Racism Team was established in January 2018 and meets monthly. Our Anti-Racism Action Plan was presented to and accepted by our vestry (leadership council) on June 20, 2018. Our work began with an African-American Literature Book Group. A list of the books we read over two years can be downloaded here: Reading to End Racism. You can find a list of more recent articles and books here: Anti-Racism Team: What we’ve been reading

Our new entrance!

 

The almost-finished entrance on Kostner Avenue.

Inside the new vestibule. The lift is on the left.

The view of the back of the church. The lift door is on the right.

Trial run!

Christian Civic Engagement

Christians are called to participate in the kingdom of God by working for peace, justice and the common good. These organizations act politically, motivated by faith. Get involved!

The Episcopal Public Policy Network (part of The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations located in Washington, DC) is a grassroots network of Episcopalians across the country dedicated to carrying out the Baptismal Covenant call to “strive for justice and peace” through the active ministry of public policy advocacy. advocacy.episcopalchurch.org

Believe Outloud works for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in our families, our churches and our communities. believeoutloud.com

Faith in Public Life advances faith as a powerful force for justice, compassion and the common good. faithinpubliclife.org

All Our Children is a national network of people of faith who are exploring, forming, and leading community partnerships between congregations and public schools. Through these partnerships, AOC is part of a growing movement to create meaningful improvements in the quality and equity of public education. allourchildren.org

Faithful America: Love thy neighbor. No exceptions. faithfulamerica.org

Interfaith Power & Light is a religious response to global warming. interfaithpowerandlight.org

Groundswell inspires faithful action to heal and repair the world. Powered by Auburn Theological Seminary. action.groundswell-mvmt.org

St. John’s Gifts

St. John’s is proud to present this beautiful book of art and reflections, taken from nine years of art created for Sunday worship by children and adults. This coffee table book makes a lovely gift. They were provided by the nice people at http://abbyservices.com.

christmas spread

Each book is $25, or $20 each for 2 or more.

You can purchase a book at St. John’s, or email parishoffice@stjohnschicago,com to have one sent to you (postage additional).

pottery spread

 

Saint John’s: Forty Years Ago

As we have recently reminisced about where we were when man first landed on the moon forty years ago and have been reminded of the remarkable gathering at Woodstock, I wondered what was going on at Saint John’s in 1969? Nothing so momentous, but it was an interesting year.

The Reverend Leon B.G. Adams was into the fourth year of his ten year term as rector. It was a special year for him as he and his dear wife, Gladys, were happy to welcome their first grandchild into the world. Sylvia, the eldest of their three children, and her husband Roger Heider, a member of a parish family, gave birth to Robert Leon in March. In May, Father Adams had the distinct joy of baptizing his own grandson at Saint John’s.

Our first Seabury-Western seminarian, Charles B. King, Jr. completed his internship in May. He and his wife Alice gave birth to their first child, Christopher Mark, also in March. In an eventful year for Charles: he graduated from seminary and was later ordained to the diaconate by the Bishop of Albany in June and to the priesthood in December. Father King spent his entire ministry in the Diocese of Albany, serving small, mostly rural congregations. He is now retired and living in Ft. Edward, where he is Vicar of “tiny” Saint James Church and serves the Bishop as his advisor on Canon Law. He and Alice added three more children to their family, and Alice remains a Cubs fan.

In February seminarian, Wayne H. Carlson, preached on Theological Education Sunday. He and his wife, Diane, had been worshiping Saint John’s since the end of October, 1968, and in June he became our official seminarian. They came from Nebraska, and after ordination, Wayne returned there to begin his ministry. He later came back to the Diocese of Chicago, and is now Rector of The Church of the Holy Family in Park Forest. He is a friend of Kara, and attended her installation as our Rector.

Reverend Gerald Francis Burrill was the Bishop of Chicago in 1969, and oversaw the Diocese’s Companion relationship with the Diocese of Southwark in the United Kingdom. Saint John’s was linked to Saint Mark’s parish in Mitcham, Surrey, and Father and Gladys became good friends with The Reverend Roger Hawkins and his wife. Visits and gifts were later exchanged. Saint Mark’s gift to us was the lightweight damask green vestment set with red ornamentation. The symbols on the chasuble are the Lion of Saint Mark and the Eagle of Saint John–although they could be the Lion of England and Eagle of the United States–upholding a Celtic cross. We donated funds to enable Saint Mark’s to install flood lighting to illuminate the steeple and cross of their building–a long desire of the parish. Angela McCormick and her family were visiting her parents in July and they attended a service at Saint Mark’s, where Angela unveiled a plaque noting the gift from Saint John’s. Her family drove across Mitcham Common en route from their home to London so were familiar with this church and it’s steeple, and subsequently thought of St. John’s when making this trip, especially at night, when the cross really stood out!

Hugh Colburn recently told of his Wedding Day, which started off with a motor-cycle accident, so he decided to get a car accident lawyer to help him with this. He and Carol had their marriage blessed at Saint John’s in January. Hugh comments that he was still not feeling up to par, even then. 1969 was an eventful year for the Nelson family. Curtis and Carol [now Conway], were settling into their new parish home, and three of their four–at that time–children were baptized in January. In May, Curtis, Carol, Scott, Stephen, and Todd were confirmed. Carol became active in the Altar Guild, where in addition to being a vestry member, she ministers today.

Charles L. Siebert was treasurer and with a vestry comprising at that time of twelve members plus the wardens and rector, administered an annual budget of $26,677.00. The monthly income and expenses were in the range of $2,000.00. The parish had borrowed $20,000.00 in 1966 to purchase the neighboring property on Kostner Avenue. The old rectory on Kenneth was sold. In 1969, $6,030.72 plus interest was still due and this mortgage was being paid off in $166.09 month installments. The silver receiving basin and collection plates we use today were, appropriately enough, later given in memory of Charles L. Siebert.

Some other statistics from forty years ago: there were seventy families and twenty-eight individuals not in families; average attendance at 8:00 a.m. was thirty-eight and at 10:00 a.m. was eighty.

Several memorial gifts were received that year, the most notable being our “two Saint John” stained glass windows on the west wall of the church. Saint John the Baptist is portrayed in the window behind the font. He is clothed in the traditional animal skins and sandals and carries a sword. Ecce Agnus Dei–”Behold the Lamb of God” is inscribed above him and at his feet is the fish symbol with the acronym IXOYC–the initial letters of phrase Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior in Greek. On the north side, behind the usher’s station, the window portrays Saint John the Apostle. John, in robes, is holding the cup with serpent, which refers to the legend of the attempt on his life with a poisoned chalice. The symbols in this window are the Alpha and the Omega, representing the everlasting nature of Christ’s divinity.

With regard to our worship, the lengthy process of the revision of The Book of Common Prayer had begun and during the year we had been introduced to various trial liturgies. Nancy Raich who had been our organist/choir director for seven years retired at the end of the year.

It has been very interesting to delve into the parish archives to generate these memories. I think The Reverend Canon Charles B. King, Jr., must have been quite surprised to hear (thanks to the wonders of the internet) from someone at Saint John’s after all this time!

Angela McCormick
Parish Historian