Friday, March 27, 2020


The Red Cross recommends following common sense steps to help prevent the spread of any respiratory virus.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve, not your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
  • Clean and disinfect doorknobs, switches, handles, computers, telephones, bedside tables, bathroom sinks, toilets, counters, toys and other surfaces that are commonly touched around the home or workplace.
  • To the extent possible, avoid touching commonly used surfaces in public places like elevator buttons, door handles and handrails and avoid handshaking with people. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
For more information from the World Health Organization click on this link.

From Mother Vicki

Psalm 130 for the Fifth Sunday in Lent

“Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice;
let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.
If you, Lord, were to note what is done amiss, O Lord, who could stand?
For there is forgiveness with you; therefore you shall be feared.
I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him; in his word is my hope.”
Psalm 130:1-4
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

“I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him; in his word is my hope.” Psalm 130 is a powerful psalm that reminds us that prayer can take all forms, including crying out to God for help in this particular time of incredible suffering and fear.  We pray for our dear Lord to be with all of those who are ill and in pain.  We pray for all who are caring for the sick and dying--for our hospitals, assisted living and nursing homes, and all other facilities attended to by our courageous doctors, nurses, administrators and staff.  We pray for our ambulances, police and fire departments, for all EMTS and first responders.  We pray for everyone who is working to continue to provide necessary goods and services.  We pray for our mayors, governors, legislators, advisors and our president as they work to help us in this time of unprecedented need.  We pray for those who are alone, and we pray for all of us that we may not lose hope.  We pray for all who are mourning, that, by the grace of God, they may be comforted.  And finally, we pray for all who have died, that they may rest in God’s peace.

Our scripture readings for this Fifth Sunday in Lent are powerful readings about life and death. Ezekiel 37:1-14 is the story about the valley of dry bones, and an incredible conversation between the Lord and the prophet Ezekiel.  The Lord asks, “Mortal, can these bones live?” Ezekiel responds, “O Lord God, you know.” Then the Lord answers, “Prophesy to these bones…, and say to them, “O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.” Ezekiel prophesies, and do you remember what happens?  There is a noise, a rattling, as the bones come together, then sinews, then flesh.  Then the Lord says, “Prophesy to the breath...Come from the four winds, O breath, and breath upon these slain, that they may live.”  Ezekiel does that, “…and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.”  And the Lord says, “And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from the graves, O my people.  I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live….”

This great hope of the resurrection through the breath of God into our dry bones, the spirit of the Lord God within us, is matched by the equally powerful Gospel reading from John 11:1-45, the raising of Lazarus from the dead. In the course of this narrative, we find out that despite being told that Lazarus is deathly ill, Jesus takes his time getting to his friend’s house.  This is confusing to his disciples, who wonder about it.  And when Jesus arrives and speaks with Martha and then Mary, we find out that he wept.  This is such a poignant detail.  Jesus is fully human and understands how profound and upsetting death is to us mortals.  I always hear in this story, as Jesus responds to the grieving woman, his full comprehension of what his suffering, crucifixion and death will not only put him through, but also all of those who love him. 

Having waited long enough so that everyone has to agree that Lazarus is truly dead (Martha reminds him that there will be a stench because Lazarus has been dead four days), Jesus asks them to take away the stone and calls to him, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man comes out, still wrapped in the strips of cloth in which they buried him.  Jesus says, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
“Unbind him, and let him go.”  Those simple words, reminders to us that death is not the ultimate end.  Death tries to frighten us and binds us up in fear and sorrow.  But that is not the last word.  The love of God breaks through that barrier and frees us.  As the Apostle Paul wrote powerfully in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I pray that you are all taking good care of yourselves, and being careful by staying home, avoiding direct contact with others, and washing your hands constantly.  This personal Lenten retreat, on which we have all embarked, is a surprise and something for which we have not really prepared.  However, it still gives us the opportunity to rethink our priorities, refresh our bodies by appreciating the gift of “down time” and enough sleep, and refresh our souls by adding some private devotions into our day—saying Morning or Evening prayer, memorizing a prayer or Bible passage that is inspiring, finding music that is calming, or reading the Bible or other spiritual literature.  It also gives us time to clean up clutter and do a spring house cleaning, if we are so inclined.  Starting small might help us actually do that!

I am grateful to my husband who has been helping to set up a video process that allows Jan Valentine (who is not in the office) to post things and send them out via our e-blast.  I recorded one on Wednesday in honor of The Feast of the Annunciation.  We will be sending out another video on Saturday or Sunday with a short sermon and prayers.

We are so grateful for the beautiful icon of the Angel Gabriel and Mary in Our Lady Chapel “written” (this is the correct word to use when referring to icons) by Father John Walsted, a dear friend of Saint John’s and a very gifted and profound iconographer and priest who died in 2014.

Our buildings are closed.  We are paying attention to what officials are saying, and especially, the guidelines we are receiving from our Diocesan Bishop, The Right Reverend Andy Dietsche.  It is unlikely that we will be able to open before May.  We will let everyone know whenever more specific information is available.  But just remember that God has not abandoned us.  You are not alone.
“There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole,
there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.”
LEVAS II Hymn 203
Lenten blessings and love,

Saint John’s Episcopal Church
Getty Square
1 Hudson Street
Yonkers NY 10701
cell: 443 257 9963

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We offer our sincerest thanks.

Readings for the Fifth Sunday of Lent

The Collect
Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Ezekiel 37:1-14
The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act,” says the Lord.

Psalm 130
De profundis
1 Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice; *
let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.
2 If you, Lord, were to note what is done amiss, *
O Lord, who could stand?
3 For there is forgiveness with you; *
therefore you shall be feared.
4 I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him; *
in his word is my hope.
5 My soul waits for the Lord,
more than watchmen for the morning, *
more than watchmen for the morning.
6 O Israel, wait for the Lord, *
for with the Lord there is mercy;
7 With him there is plenteous redemption, *
and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.

Romans 8:6-11
To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law-- indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

John 11:1-45
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

A Litany Amidst the COVID-19 Outbreak

The Rev. Michael B.E. Kurth 
Christ’s Church - Rye, NY
 March 13, 2020
God the Father, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,  Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, Have mercy on us.

Most merciful God, we come to you in this time of anxiety and uncertainty surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19. As the sorrows of our heart and mind increase, we beseech you to save us from all trouble and fear. Cast away all works of darkness. Be our rock, a castle to keep us safe. For the Lord is our stronghold and sure defense, and he will be our Savior.

For all who have died: receive them into the arms of your mercy, grant them eternal peace, and surround those who mourn with your healing grace.  Lord, hear our prayer.

For those directly infected with the virus: help them recover in good health and restore them in body, mind and spirit.  Lord, hear our prayer.

For those at high risk of infection, especially the elderly, those with underlying illnesses, the marginalized, and the poor: keep them healthy and free from all sickness.  Lord, hear our prayer.

For those in quarantine, the shut-in, and the infirmed: help them find peace, keep them in good health, and renew their mind and spirit.  Lord, hear our prayer.

For all hospitals, doctors, nurses, and staff: protect them as they minister to the sick, relieve all stress, and provide the resources and space to meet the needs of all the infirmed. Lord, hear our prayer.

For first responders: guard them from all harm, and grant them strength and courage as they respond to all calls for help. Lord, hear our prayer.

For service industry workers and those forced to work as their community shuts down: keep them healthy, bestow the resources to best care for themselves and their families, and assure them in times of financial and medical anxiety. Lord, hear our prayer.

For those experiencing financial loss and uncertainty of resources: have mercy on them, alleviate any fear, and provide for them daily bread and wage.  Lord, hear our prayer.

For the leaders of this nation and the world: help them make sound and safe decisions to best secure the future of our planet.   Lord, hear our prayer.

For all schools, students, teachers, administrators and school staff: as schools remain open, keep them healthy and in good spirit to learn; as schools close, feed those who will go hungry without guaranteed meals and shelter all students who have no place to live.  Lord, hear our prayer.

For all scientists and those working to find a cure: inspire them towards your truth, and help them discover and disseminate a vaccine and cure. Lord, hear our prayer.

For all media and journalists: protect them from all harm in their reporting, and move them to be a vector of truth and certainty, and never fear or panic. Lord, hear our prayer.

For all places of worship: embolden them to be beacons of hope and love, and help us to gather however and wherever we can – be it in person or online – to give you praise. Lord, hear our prayer.

For the leaders of our church: help them minister to their flock; fortify them to be faithful pastors, to persevere in prayer, and to build up the family of God in new and creative ways. Lord, hear our prayer.

For the young: spare them from harm and fear, and keep them a joyful sign of your love and light. Lord, hear our prayer.

For all parents: build in them strength and fortitude for the time ahead, and give them the words and witness to be wise counselors and compassionate caregivers. Lord, hear our prayer.

For calm amidst the storm: as the waves toss our boat and we wonder “do you not care?”, remind us to not be afraid, that with you all things are possible, and that even the wind and sea obey you. Lord, hear our prayer.

Stir up in us a spirit of compassion and tenacity for the time ahead. Amen.

Move us to check-in with loved ones at high risk of infection and those in quarantine. Amen.

Ease our fear and anxiety, that we may share our resources rather than hoard them, and extend a helping hand to those in need.  Amen.

Inspire us to share the Good News of your love and hope. Amen.

All this we ask through your son Jesus Christ our Lord: healer of the sick, ruler of the tempestuous sea, and Savior of the world.  Amen.

Officiant:        Lord, have mercy.
People:         Christ, have mercy.
ALL:               Lord, have mercy.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

From Mother Vicki

The Collect for the Third Sunday in Lent
Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Grace to you and peace!  Our Collect for Sunday is particularly apt, reminding us that “we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves.”  And so we ask to be defended from all adversities—those that may happen to the body and those “evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul.”  May our fears and worries not run away with us at this difficult time in the life of our nation and of the world.

That said, we are making a number of changes in order to be more proactive in the light of the coronavirus pandemic.  Therefore, I ask you please NOT to come to church if you are feeling ill, or if you are particularly vulnerable physically.  We will still be open, however, for those who wish to come.  Thank you for your good response on Sunday to our changes in behavior with each other to make this a safer place.  Because we love each other in this time of the coronavirus, we have suspended our traditional way of passing the peace during our worship services so that we are limiting our ability to pass on germs.  We are staying in our own pews and either putting our hands together and bowing to each other or waving.  This will feel uncomfortable for a while, but if we do it lovingly, it will be a gift.

Please also remember to wash your hands often and keep using a hand sanitizer.  Probably most important is to stay home if you are feeling ill.  Please call the church office (914 963 3033) if you would like to be placed on the prayer list.

In addition, we have decided to partake of the bread only at communion.  Because so many of us use intinction which Bishop Dietsche is asking us not to do, we feel that it is less confusing to simply suspend drinking from the common cup for the present.   

The Technical Assistance Panel from the Urban Land Institute cancelled on Tuesday night because of the restrictions on travel for the panel members by their businesses.  We are praying that they will be able to come in the near future.

This coming week there is no “Via Media” Class and no midweek Healing Eucharist, lunch and Bible class. Prayers for the filming of an episode of City on a Hill, which is using our space.

Please note that due to health suggestions from different sources as well as discussions with other clergy, we have decided to cancel the Saint John’s Children’s Choir rehearsals as well as The Saint John’s Festival Choir Rehearsals in preparation for Easter.  We are still planning special music with soloists for Easter Sunday.

This is a trying time, but we trust that God is in the midst of us.  Prayers for us all in this Season of Lent.

Lenten blessings and love,


The Rev. Canon Victoria Sirota

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Church Calendar

Mondays, 6:30-8 pm, Troop 4 Boy Scouts
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 7-9 pm, Spanish AA

Saint John’s Church Office hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 AM-1 PM; 2 PM-4 PM.

Sunday March 15, Third Sunday in Lent
The Rev. Canon Victoria Sirota, Celebrant and Preacher
8:00 AM: Holy Eucharist Rite I
10:15 AM: Holy Eucharist Rite II with Music
12 Noon, St. John’s Children’s Choir in Church (1/2 hour)
No Wednesday Healing Eucharist or Bible Study

Sunday, March 22, Fourth Sunday in Lent
The Rev. Canon Victoria Sirota, Celebrant
The Rev. Canon Claudia Wilson, Preacher
8:00 AM: Holy Eucharist Rite I
10:15 AM: Holy Eucharist Rite II with Music
Monday, March 23 6:30 PM Vestry Meeting, Parish Hall
Tuesday, March 24, 6:30 PM, Adult Education “Via Media” program, Library
Wednesday, March 25, 12:05 PM Healing Eucharist. Light lunch follows & Bible Study at 1:30 PM.
Wednesday, March 25, 7 PM, Alliance Meeting, Guild Room

Sunday, March 29, Fourth Sunday in Lent
The Rev. Canon Victoria Sirota, Celebrant and Preacher
8:00 AM: Holy Eucharist Rite I
10:15 AM: Holy Eucharist Rite II with Music
Tuesday, March 31, 6:30 PM, Adult Education “Via Media” program, Library
Wednesday, April 1, 12:05 PM Healing Eucharist. Light lunch follows & Bible Study at 1:30 PM.

Sunday, April 5, Palm Sunday
The Rev. Canon Victoria Sirota, Celebrant and Preacher
8:00 AM: Holy Eucharist Rite I with Blessing of the Palms
10:15 AM: Holy Eucharist Rite II with Music and Blessing of the Palms
Holy Wednesday, April 8
12:05 P.M.           Service of Holy Eucharist
 Maundy Thursday, April 9
6 P.M.                   Agape Meal
7 P.M.                   Holy Eucharist with Foot Washing and Stripping of the
8:15 P.M.             Vigil at the Altar of Repose
 Good Friday, April 10
12 Noon:              The Passion According to Saint Matthew
                               The Solemn Collects
                                Veneration of the Cross
                                Communion from the Reserved Sacrament
                                 Meditations from 1:40 – 3 pm
Holy Saturday, April 11
10 A.M.                 Easter Greening of the Church