Thursday, December 1, 2016

From Mother Vicki

1 December 2016

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

We are halfway through the first week of Advent. In this darkest time of the year, the single flame of one candle makes a difference.  Advent literally means “arrival” or “coming”.  We Christians are preparing to celebrate the First Coming of Jesus as an infant at Christmas, as we also wait in expectation for Christ’s Second Coming.  The season, therefore, holds together the tension of “already” with “not yet.” We move from darkness to light, from hope to joy, from Advent to Christmas and then Epiphany.

We have begun a new Bible Study Class that will be meeting on Wednesday afternoons at 1:30 p.m. in the Library.  Please join us.  We will be looking at the lectionary texts for the next Sunday and discussing what they mean.  You never know.  What you say may end up in my sermon!

Today is our final Thursday event, our Christmas Flea Market in the parking lot and parish hall.  Please stop by and enjoy the fun!

Tonight, Thursday night, Dec. 1, at 6:30 p.m. in the Rectory my husband Bob is beginning rehearsals for the Saint John’s Festival Choir to sing at the 9 p.m. Mass on Christmas Eve.  Please let Bob know if you are interested in joining (bobsirota@me.com) or just show up!  We already have a core group of 12 but can always use more.  The rehearsal schedule will be decided at this first rehearsal.

The Vestry has a Leadership Retreat with The Reverend James Lee Burns this Saturday, Dec. 3, from 9:30 a.m. (coffee and donuts at 9) until 3:30 p.m. in the Guild Room. We are grateful that the Episcopal Diocese of NY is supporting us in this important conversation as we continue to look to what the Holy Spirit is calling us to do and be in the months and years ahead.  If you are not on the Vestry, please hold us in your prayers.  If you are interested in running for a position in the Vestry at the Annual Meeting in February, please let me or one of the current Vestry members know.  These are important leadership positions that help shape the conversation and ministry of Saint John’s. The current Vestry members and Officers are printed on the back of the bulletin.

Our Christmas Pageant has its first meeting this Sunday, December 4th at noon!  Please join us in the Sunday School Room if you are interested in taking part.  We need lots of help with the Christmas story, and I gather we have great costumes for actors and actresses of all ages!  Our first rehearsal will be on Sunday, Dec. 11 at noon.  Our Final Dress Rehearsal will be in the Sanctuary on Saturday morning, Dec. 17 from 10 a.m. to noon.  Our Christmas Pageant forms an important part of the 10:15 a.m. Service on December 18th, the Fourth Sunday of Advent.

Don’t forget the penny social this Sunday at 12:30 p.m.!  This is a great and fun way to prepare for stuffing Christmas stockings.

I am sad to report that member Raymond Arthur Karaman died on Monday night at the age of 85.  His wife Collette told me that he was an altar boy here in the 1930’s, and that he loved Saint John’s Church.  We will be celebrating a Funeral Mass for him on Monday, December 5 at 2 p.m. in the Church.  Please pass the word on to those you know who may wish to be present.

In this season of expectation, please join us as we listen to the prophetic voices from ages past and re-remember our deepest yearnings for God, the God of hope and peace.

Advent blessings and love,

Vicki+
The Rev. Dr. Victoria R. Sirota

Priest-in-Charge

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

From Mother Vicki



22 November 2016

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

On September 17, 1994 I was ordained to the Priesthood in Marquand Chapel at Yale Divinity School where I was working as Assistant Professor of Church Music. We were using incense, and at the Litany for Ordinations the smoke alarm went off. I was prostrate on the floor and assumed that the fire marshal would step in to announce that the service was over. Much to my relief, the Litany continued, someone finally turned off the alarm, and the service proceeded.

When we invited the Yonkers Fire Commissioner and Fire Fighters to attend Saint John’s Service of Rededication and Installation so that we could honor them for saving us from the horrendous fire a year ago, I asked Commissioner Sweeney if we would have any problem using incense for the service. He said, “How tall is the ceiling?” I said, “75 feet.” He said, “No problem!”

Of course we didn’t count on the fact that the thurifer and the acolyte team would be lighting the thurible in the sacristy with its lower ceiling and smoke alarm. The smoke alarm went off as my two children, Jonah and Nadia Sirota, were reading the Epistle. They both smiled. In the sermon, The Reverend Barbara Crafton, priest, author and one of my spiritual directors, mentioned the brave firefighters who ran towards that fire and not away. The fact that the smoke alarm had gone off felt entirely appropriate!

I never expected to end up as an Episcopal priest. I was raised Missouri Synod Lutheran, a denomination that still does not allow the ordination of women. I taught at Boston University after receiving my Doctorate in Music and was working as an organist and choir director at an Episcopal church in Dedham, MA when my father-in-law was dying of a brain tumor. This Christian community embraced not only me, but my whole family, and showed us what Christ-like love could actually be. It was in dealing with death that I began to understand the gift of God’s love.

The conversion that I struggled with—the sense of the presence of a living God—also involved grappling over whether or not I was called to the ordained ministry. I said no repeatedly, but God kept hounding me. Within six months of my finally saying yes, my husband, raised a secular Jew, was baptized by the first woman bishop ever, The Right Reverend Barbara Harris, and my son Jonah and I were confirmed by her. It was awesome to be present at such an historic time!

This is such a time in Getty Square, Yonkers. I am the first woman given the authority of priest-in-charge at Saint John’s Episcopal Church, and, surprisingly, my husband, a composer, is the first clergy spouse to inhabit the rectory since 1948. We also represent the first family since that time. Our two children, Jonah and Nadia, are both professional violists who played in the service. Jonah flew from Nebraska where he lives, and Nadia, who lives in NYC, flew in from Iceland. Historic moments indeed.

I left my position at Yale to work as a Vicar in an urban mission church in Baltimore for ten years. Then I became the Canon Pastor and Vicar at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York for nine years. Feeling the call to move on and return

to a place where my passion for urban ministry with all of its struggles and challenges could be used, I talked with Bishop Dietsche and Canon Blake Rider about where they could use me. By March 1, we were talking about Yonkers.

I am grateful for the good work of the priests who have preceded me, especially Fathers John Hamilton and Burt Ulrich, and also for this wonderful congregation and the strong and faithful leadership. Somehow the Holy Spirit has been working overtime in this place, and the near destruction from a fire ended up as the catalyst for a huge restoration of this historic building.

We are poised for great new things. Did you see the faces of all of the people who were there on Saturday, November 12th? In the letter of Institution that Bishop Dietsche read, he called me to “Care alike for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor.” What I loved most about that service was that everyone was there. It was the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. It was the Mayor of Yonkers, Council Members, Boy Scouts and Fire Fighters. It was our new young acolytes, and the veteran vergers and acolytes from the Cathedral. It was clergy and lay people from the Episcopal Diocese and Catholic brothers and priests from churches close by. It was board members from The Sharing Community and the congregation’s wardens and vestry. It was new members, neighbors, visitors, relatives and people whose parents brought them here when they were children. And we were singing together in a building saved from a fire, worked on, repainted, cleaned and refurbished by excellent companies and great souls, and rededicated to God. That’s the charge to this Saint John’s Church in Getty Square, Yonkers: gather people from all different walks and ways of life, feed them, remind them how loved they are by the God who created them, and then send them out to spread the good news. In a world in which angry rhetoric has taken over, we offer the love of God for all people, a healing salve for a weary world. It’s a new day in Yonkers!

Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving--and join us on the First Sunday of Advent, November 27th as we begin a new Liturgical year!

With gratitude and love,

Vicki+

The Rev. Dr. Victoria R. Sirota
Priest-in-Charge

Bishop Dietsche visits St. John's for our Re-dedication of a Church and Installation of Mother Vicki as our Priest-in-Charge November 12, 2016.












Thursday, November 10, 2016

From Mother Vicki
9 November 2016
   
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Political campaigns have now all ended and the America people have spoken. No matter what  our response to our newly elected leaders, whether joyful or depressed, we as a country need to pray mightily for them and our future. May they respond to the needs of all the American people.

I am looking forward to seeing everyone on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 10 a.m. 

Here is the hymn that my husband Bob and I wrote that will have its premiere at this historic Service of Rededication and Installation. 

The tune is Getty Square. I feel honored to be your Priest-in-Charge.

In Christ and with much love,

Vicki+
The Rev. Dr. Victoria R. Sirota
Priest-in-Charge

St. John’s Getty Square

Thursday, November 3, 2016

3 November 2016
Collect for The Feast of All Saints
Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

These first days of November always feel so liminal.  We celebrate the Feast of All Saints this Sunday.  This beautiful collect reminds us that we are “knit together in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body” of Christ with those blessed saints who have gone before us.  What a striking image, and a wonderful reminder of our connection across time and space with the apostles, prophets and martyrs, as well as with our family members and friends who showed us how to love and what is important in life.  This Sunday we will be reading all of the names of those who have died that you have submitted as part of the prayers of the people.  We thank God for their role in our lives, and the gift of their blessed memory.

And don’t forget the Penny Social THIS Sunday at 12:00 p.m.  This is one of the fun ways in which you can support Saint John’s Getty Square!

This is also the final week of an agonizing election cycle. Please vote! It is so important that we not become cynical or blasé about the fact that we are blessed to live in a democratic country with the precious right to vote for our governing officials. We Christians are people of faith and hope, and we thank God for all the blessings that we have been given in these United States of America.

The bulletins for the Service of Rededication and my Installation as your Priest-in-Charge on Saturday, November 12 at 10 a.m. are almost finished, and this will be a grand day indeed!  Not only is our Diocesan Bishop, The Right Reverend Andrew Dietsche, the Celebrant, with the wonderful author and priest The Reverend Barbara C. Crafton the preacher, but Mayor Spano will be present to honor the Firefighters who helped save the church a year ago from the horrendous fire right next door. We hope that Saint John’s Getty Square will be packed, so please continue to invite your friends and neighbors to rejoice with us in this renewed life we have been given through the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The First Sunday in Advent, November 27, will be our Stewardship Sunday. A mailing will go out in a week or two with pledge cards for 2017. It makes such a difference for you to let us know what your pledge will be for the year. It is the only way we can figure out our 2017 budget! 

But in addition, this has everything to do with our faith in God. If we can’t trust God with our money, then how can we trust God with everything else in life? Saint John’s Getty Square is in a growing place right now. May you have the courage to step out on faith with us and support this vibrant life in Christ that is profoundly important to us all!

In Christ and with much love,
Vicki+
The Rev. Dr. Victoria R. Sirota

Priest-in-Charge, St. John’s Getty Square

Thursday, October 27, 2016


All Saints' Sunday, November 6

October 27, 2016

Dear Members and Friends of St. John's Getty Square,

On Sunday, November 6 we will be celebrating the Feast of All Saints, a time when we remember those great souls who kept the faith throughout history, as well as our beloved family members and friends who have died, especially in the last year. This communion of saints surrounds us and serves as a reminder that we are part of the Body of Christ that exists now and extends back through time and space. As part of our Celebration, we will be reading aloud the names of those who have died.

If you would like loved ones remembered please mail the names to the church office or place them in the offering plates on Sunday. Donations may also be given in their memory. We need them in the office by the end of day, Tuesday, November 1 and will read the names in Church on All Saints’ Sunday, November 6.

We are grateful for the faith-filled lives of those who have gone before us, and pray that they may rest in God's peace.

In Christ and with much love,


Vicki+

The Rev. Dr. Victoria R. Sirota
Priest-in-Charge, St. John’s Getty Square