Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The horrific shooting in Las Vegas at an outdoor country music concert on Sunday night has left us all in shock. A single assailant with assault rifles from a hotel window succeeded in killing at least 59 people, and injuring more than 500 others. We cannot begin to fathom a motive for such carnage. We pray for everyone involved, those who lost loved ones, those who were hurt, and those who were not hurt but who must figure out a way to endure the terrifying memories of that day. And we pray for those who died, that they may rest in God’s peace.
On Wednesday, October 4 we celebrated Saint Francis of Assisi (ca. 1182-1226), a humble man who was the exact opposite of a murderer. This was a man who felt called by God to rebuild the church, and, in so doing, left his life of wealth and privilege to become a friar dedicated to Lady Poverty. He understood and appreciated the sheer beauty of creation, loved all people, especially those who were poor, sick or marginalized, loved animals, and founded the Order of Friars Minor, or the Franciscans as we know them today. One of my favorite quotes attributed to him is, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” He did not use words to shame people; he simply loved them as Jesus did. In so doing, he rocked the world.
Congratulations and thank you to those of you who completed the Spiritual Life Inventory for our RenewalWorks Program! Now that all the surveys have been completed, our RenewalWorks Team is beginning to meet and will hold deep discussions about where we are, with an eye towards where the Holy Spirit might be calling us. For more information, feel free to contact me, Tara Seeley and Carrie Parkey (RenewalWorks Facilitators), Jen Longley (RenewalWorks Communicator), or our RenewalWorks Team (Samuel Akhtar, Linda Brown, Carol Craft, Debbie DeBride, Aaron McKinney and George Morrison). This is an exciting venture and we thank you for your help and support.
The Saint John’s Children’s Choir is doing a beautiful job! We meet on Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. in the Church. We are so grateful for the help of Jurhee Hong, Alicia DeBride, Elijah Henderson and Shelley Henderson. The choir is open to children grades 1 through 5. A snack is provided. It’s not too late to join!
Bishop Shin preached at the Service of Covenanting for the Order of Urban Missioners held at our church last Thursday evening. As the sun began to set sending gorgeous rays of light through our stained-glass windows, he reflected on the difficult lives of the native people who live in rural Alaska (he had just returned from a meeting of the House of Bishops in Alaska), and how their emphasis on the importance of creation, community and support of each other is Christ-like. He called us urban missioners likewise to claim the urban land on which we stand, and to spread the love of Christ in the city. Our next meeting of the Order of Urban Missioners will be on Saturday morning, October 14 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in the Guild Room at Saint John’s, followed by a Service of Holy Eucharist in the Lady Chapel at 12:30 p.m. Visitors are welcome!
In honor of Saint Francis, we are having a Blessing of the Animals Service this Saturday, October 7 at 12 p.m. noon in the parking lot in front of the Church Door. All animals are welcome (providing they are properly restrained!). If a pet is shy, please know that photos of animals can also be brought to be blessed.
The one-day Diocesan Liturgy Festival: Encountering God in the Liturgy on Saturday, October 7 has been cancelled. In its stead, the Diocese is sponsoring A Service for the Victims of Natural Disaster in the Caribbean and Mexico on Saturday, October 7 at 12:00 Noon at The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine (1047 Amsterdam Ave. NY NY 10025).
It is not too late to make a donation to Episcopal Relief and Development to help those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria, as well as the devastating earthquakes in Mexico. The loss of life and property has been immense, especially now in Puerto Rico. Your prayers and donations, no matter how small, are desperately needed.
We have been saddened at the death of longtime member and friend Dr. Joe Walsh. A Memorial Service for him will be held in the Great Choir at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine on Monday, October 16 at 6 p.m. All are invited. Our prayers are with Don Lundquist, his partner and Saint John’s Getty Square’s former organist and choir director.
On Sunday, October 22 we will have Jonelle Ward with us from the Alzheimer’s Association who will be able to answer questions after the two services about this particular kind of memory loss and what to look out for in each other and those we love.
We are pleased to be sponsoring a Yonkers Basics program led by our own Dr. Jen Longley and Anthony Johnson on Saturday, October 28 from 10 a.m.-noon. This is an excellent offering sponsored by the Yonkers My Brothers’ Keeper program that encourages all adults (parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends) who have contact with young children ages 0-3 to engage them in speech, song, counting, sorting, etc. This kind of early encouragement makes a huge difference in their development. Babysitting provided!
Looking ahead, we will be praying for all who have died in the last year on Sunday, November 5, All Saints Sunday. That is also a Sunday for baptisms. If you know of anyone who might be interested, please let me know so that I can meet with them and/or their parents.
I am grateful to Canon Claudia Wilson who was the preacher and celebrant last Sunday. I have never been to New Mexico. I now hold vivid images in my head of high dessert, canyons gorged out by the Rio Grande, huge mountains--some snow-capped, Santuario de Chimayó (a Catholic holy place of pilgrimage), Taos Pueblo (a UNESCO world heritage landmark), of junipers, pinions, sagebrush and jackrabbits. My husband’s second string quartet American Pilgrimage was a rousing success. It was a great gift to be able to join him for two wonderful concerts, to meet old friends and make new ones, and to see such a stunning and historic region of our country.
We continue to pray for those who are struggling with great loss in Las Vegas, Puerto Rico, Mexico, etc. One of my favorite and most comforting prayers is this evening prayer from the Book of Common Prayer (p. 124):
In Christ and with love,
The Reverend Canon Victoria Sirota