Thursday, September 15, 2016

From Mother Vicki

14 September 2016
Collect for Holy Cross Day
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world to himself: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Welcome Home!  This coming Sunday we celebrate the regathering of the congregation at Saint John’s Getty Square.  As your new Priest-in-Charge, I am so grateful for your welcome to me and my husband Bob over the past few months and for the amazing ways in which this already feels like home for us.  The word “home” refers to a dwelling place or residence.  It also reminds us of childhood memories of growing up that may be positive or negative depending on how much love was available to us.  One of the aspects of Christianity that I cherish the most is that around the altar we become one family, the children of God.  And in that family, there is more than enough love to go around.  God’s love for us is infinite.

This radical welcome is God’s gift to us.  As I write this on Holy Cross Day, I am reminded of Christ’s astonishing sacrifice for us, that in giving himself over to death on the cross, he broke through the bonds of death and gave us hope, joy and eternal life.  “Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim.” (Hymnal 1982, # 473)

And so this Sunday, Homecoming Sunday, we welcome anew members who attend regularly, those who have not been here in a while, visitors and those people for whom this may well become their new parish.  For all of us this home in Christ is more real than any home we have ever had.  All are welcome into Christ’s loving arms.

After each service on Sunday, there will be an opportunity to rethink your commitments and service for the year with sign-up sheets available on the bulletin board in the hallway.  Members who are involved in each capacity will be available at coffee hour to talk to you about the kind of commitment you would be making.  If you have been a teacher and enjoy the gift of opening the minds of our young people to new ideas, would you like to teach Sunday School?  Are you ready to commit to serving God as a Eucharistic Minister or Lay Reader?  Do you enjoy ironing and quieter backstage service and would you care to be on our altar guild?  Would you like to greet people and hand out the bulletins on Sunday as an usher or greeter? Do you enjoy planning events and making this place feel like home for everyone who shows up with good food and loving care? Would you like to help with the Farmers Market on Thursdays or with other Events coming up?  We need volunteers in many different capacities. 

But beyond that, God may be calling you this year to try something new, to go beyond your own doubts and fears about yourself, and offer yourself in service to others.  What I can tell you is that this enlarging of your world view allows God to bless you in new ways that you would never have thought possible. 

During each service after the exchanging of the Peace and announcements, I will be asking everyone who has volunteered in service to Saint John’s Getty Square to come to the railing so that I can say pray over you and thank you for the gift of your service.  This sacrifice of your time and talent blesses us all.

On Sunday, October 16, Bishop Suffragan Allen Shin will be the Celebrant and Preacher, and will be here to confirm, receive or reaffirm people who are interested in renewing their Baptismal vows in a more formal way.  In preparation for this service, I will be teaching a class on “Christianity and the Episcopal Church” on Wednesdays, September 21, 28, October 5 and 12 from 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. in the Guild Room. These four classes will review, renew, refresh and reenergize your faith with historical information as well as theological discussions and prayer. I will also be offering an evening class on “Christianity and the Episcopal Church” on Monday, Sept. 19, and October 3 and 10 from 6-7:30 p.m. in my office.  Please let me know if you would like to join us! These classes will prepare you for the rite of Reaffirmation with the laying on of hands by Bishop Shin in addition to being an opportunity to learn more about faith and life in Christ.
For those who are interested in becoming or who already are a lay Eucharistic Minister, we will be meeting on Wednesday, September 28th from 6:30 – 8 p.m. in the parish office for training, review and to be licensed by the Diocese.  Further classes will be scheduled as necessary.  Please let me know if you wish to attend.

I am so proud to be called your Priest.  May this year be filled with God’s richest blessings, and may God use us in ways we can’t imagine!

Welcome home!

In Christ and with much love,

The Rev. Dr. Victoria R. Sirota

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

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