Angels I have known

Today we celebrate the legacy of St. Francis.  We’ve probably all heard stories about him – making you believe he was, perhaps, a little crazy – but he was a good man and loved to share the Good News of the Gospel. 

One story tells of an encounter with a flock of birds – doves, crows – all sorts of birds.  When St. Francis spotted them down the road, he ran toward them and expected them to scatter but to his surprise – and probably anyone else’s who may have witnessed this – the birds stood still and seemed to wait for him.  He was filled with awe and he asked them to stay and then proceeded to give them a little sermon, reminding them that they should always praise their Creator for he was the one who gave them feathers for clothes, wings to fly, and anything else that was needed.   “It is God who made you noble among all creatures, making your home in thin, pure air.  Without sowing or reaping, you received God’s guidance and protection.”  And so the story goes that from that day on, Francis made it his habit to invoke all animals to praise and love their Creator. 

But wait a minute, Francis.  While all of what you told those birds was certainly true –  if I may say so – you missed the bigger picture!  I believe that animals have a lot to tell us, to teach us, and to remind us of.  They are messengers and, I believe, vessels enabling 2-way communication with God.  So, Francis, perhaps spending some time listening to them would have done you some good, too. 

Click here to read the whole sermon preached by Susan Mitchell on Pet Blessing Sunday, 2019

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. We are now working on our 2019 Anti-Racism Plan. 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. Currently we have a Latinx Book Group meeting (email us for more information).

Click here for all posts connected to our Anti-racism work


Purses, Aprons, and Politics

sermon on Luke 12:32-40
The Rev. Kara Wagner Sherer

I have a large cardboard box in my basement, filled with hardly used, basically new purses, wallets, backpacks and bags. They were once THE thing my daughters had to have to hold their wallets, laptops etc. but a second after they were purchased they were out of style, hence the large box of purses in my basement.

When I read the parable today I thought, “Great!” I don’t have to prepare a sermon this week, I can just bring that box to church and give everyone an almost new purse and tell you “Jesus said, sell all your things, give the money away. Make for yourself purses that do not wear out, treasures in heaven!”

I think I am in a cleaning mode because of this week’s news. Those of you who were alive on 9/11 will never forget where you were. I haven’t. It was the month we moved into a new apartment, before I started seminary. I was cleaning. And when I heard the news I just kept cleaning. Listening to the radio and cleaning. It is what I do when I am under stress, paralyzed by the world.

So I’ve called you here today to ask, “What should we do?”

Should we raise money and send all the lawyers at St. John’s to the border and to Mississippi? Should we gather the doctors, nurses and counselors that we know to go Dayton and El Paso and the streets of Chicago? Should we get all our writers and artists and musicians to Washington, DC to write new protest songs, bang on drums, make signs and not be silent until our elected officials do their jobs? And who will stay home to help Mark plan his mother’s funeral, and mourn with our neighbor whose husband’s funeral is next week? Who will take care of the kids and make dinner?

Suddenly the side door opens (the one by the organ that no one ever uses) and a stranger walks in. We’ve never seen him before, but we know exactly who he is. He looks at me and says, “Kara, sit down!” and at all of us and says, “Stop, breathe, hold on.”

“But Jesus! What should we do? Should we go to the border? To Mississippi and Dayton and El Paso. What about our own Chicago neighborhoods? And who will watch the kids?”

Jesus doesn’t answer. He goes downstairs. He puts on an apron, not one of the white ones, but that one from Nicaragua with all the embroidery on it. And he rummages in the fridge. And suddenly we are all eating. Nothing fancy, but good food, lots of fruit and vegetables, home-made, nothing processed…real comfort food. And Jesus serves the food and picks up the dishes. And washes them. And Jesus says “Stop, breathe, eat, enjoy each other’s company. You have everything you need. You are ready.”

“Now go and do what I have called you to do.”

Sermon preached on Sunday, August 11, 2019. For more sermons go to:
http://www.stjohnschicago.com/?page_id=678

Are We Non-racist or Anti-racist? And What Can We Do About It?

June 1, 2019
9:00 am
Free Training at St. John’s Episcopal Church
Sat. June 1, 2019 
9:00 am to 12:30 p.m.
8:30 a.m. registration and breakfast
Featuring Trainer Rina Campbell
Former Associate Director of the Chicago Anti-Defamation League
20+ years anti-racism training experience
 
Join us to increase our skills and knowledge to be active and intentional in identifying, disrupting and dismantling racism in our church and our community.  Why? https://youtu.be/jm5DWa2bpbs
 
Childcare provided. 
 
RSVP required https://www.eventbrite.com/e/free-anti-racism-training-tickets-61274904890

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 +

Drama, Music, Food, and Fun!

January 6, 2018
5:00 pm

photo of the 2009 Epiphany Pageant

“We three kings of Orient are…”

In the style of 12th Night Revelries St. John’s presents The Epiphany Pageant this Saturday, January 6, at 5:00 p.m.

Starring…you! We need Mary, Joseph, a baby Jesus and a toddler Jesus, shepherds, kings, soldiers, well, you know! And an audience!

Come at 5 and get a costume and a script, or settle in your seat to watch, sing, and celebrate the whole story of Christmas. (This is a play, not a worship service, so there is no communion or sermon). Appropriate for children and drama queens of all ages.

At about 6 p.m. we’ll go down to the Parish Hall. St. John’s is providing pizzas (meat-eaters, vegetarians, and gluten free folks all taken care of) and drinks. If you want to bring a side dish, salad (St. John’s will also provide salad dressings) or dessert, you may, but it is not necessary.

Don’t miss this last hurrah of Christmas!

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