Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Begins
Almighty Father, who inspired Saint Peter, first among the apostles, to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the living God: Keep your Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, so that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
On Thursday, January 18, celebrated as the Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle, we also mark the beginning of The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This week ends on January 25th with the Celebration of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle. Peter’s confession and Paul’s conversion are foundational to the formation of Christ’s church on earth. Peter was the first disciple to understand that Jesus was much more than just another prophet, that he was the son of the living God. Paul’s conversion involved a direct encounter with the resurrected Christ. That mystical experience gave him the courage, despite persecution and great suffering, to spread the Gospel message far and wide. During this week of unity, we not only remember our commitment to Christ in our baptismal vows and our deep connection to all who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, but also our vow to “respect the dignity of every human being.” There is no one who is outside the arms of God’s love.
Last Monday night, Harv Oostdyk and I attended the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration organized by the Nepperhan Community Center at the Grand Roosevelt Ballroom. Dr. Jim Bostic and his organization have done amazing work in this community with basketball programs, after-school programs, summer camp, a violence and gang prevention coalition, etc. In addition, they have significant programs in Africa and Haiti to help children, young adults and families. The large ballroom was packed with politicians, community members, clergy and supporters. It is encouraging to see the outstanding leadership that the Nepperhan Community Center has been providing to Yonkers and this area since the 1930s. The Keynote Speaker, Morehouse Professor Dr. Bryant T. Marks, called us all to make a difference with our lives. The final metaphor he used was to be load bearing walls in our lives (connected to the foundation) and not just partition walls. Since our foundation is Christ, this reminder of the importance of what we choose to do with our lives--resonating with what Martin Luther King Jr. did with his life--was apt and inspiring.
Please pray for our leadership here at Saint John’s Church as we prepare for our 2017 Annual Meeting and election for the positions of warden and four new vestry members. 2018 is a pivotal year for us with building and property concerns as well as ongoing stained-glass window renovations and fundraising. It is also our 325th Anniversary as a parish! We invite you to nominate people that you think would serve well as stewards of this great and important parish located in the booming city of Yonkers (just ranked 16 on U-Haul’s 2017 list of the top 25 growth cities in America!). You will receive a form in the mail. Please be thoughtful and prayerful as you fill out the form and return it to us as soon as you can, definitely by Sunday, February 11th, so that the Nominating Committee can come up with a slate of candidates for our parish election on Sunday, February 25.
By the end of January, you will also be receiving a statement of your charitable giving for 2017 for tax purposes. Thank you for your 2017 support of Saint John’s Getty Square with your time, talent and treasure. You make a difference!
Edward Mote (1797-1874) wrote this great American hymn included in our Lift Every Voice and Sing II hymnal:
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ Name.
On Christ, the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.”
LEVAS II Hymn 99
We stand on Christ, the solid Rock. May Christ guide, bless and use us powerfully in 2018!
Epiphany blessings and joy,
The Reverend Canon Victoria Sirota