Saturday, June 20, 2020

From Mother Vicki

From Mother Vicki

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”
Matthew 10:34-39 NRSV

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

This week has brought some surprising shifts in our common life.  We are grateful for the recent Supreme Court ruling that allows DACA young people (dreamers) who have grown up in America to remain here.  It is fascinating to note that over 29,000 are health care workers, such as doctors and nurses, who have been heroes in fighting this current COVID-19 pandemic.  And then there is the Supreme Court ruling coming in Pride Month that bars discrimination against LGBT workers.  These two decisions help our country to be a more just society.

Meanwhile the protests continue here and abroad as people refuse to go back to the way things have been, the old “Normal.” Systemic racism and white privilege, unacknowledged for so long, are now very clearly in the public eye, thanks be to God.  We who are Christians know that if are following Christ, we must change.  Love for all people must define our actions.
This Juneteenth feels different than others.  More people understand the profound significance of this celebration for the end of slavery and what it means for America.  In a Diocesan zoom meeting on Friday about antiracism, Carla Burns, our wonderful leader who has been chairing the Diocesan Antiracism Task Force for 10 years, said very succinctly at the end, “We are all racists.” Her point was that we live in a society that has provided one sector of our population with incredible privilege that has not been acknowledged as such. This bias is everywhere, even if we are not aware of it, and is over 400 years old. Being aware is critical to the changes that are needed.   The Diocese will be encouraging us to read a book together (this will be rolled out officially on July 5th) entitled How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.  As one of the participants said this morning, the only way to begin any long journey is with a single step.

Happy Father’s Day!  What a joy it is to thank all of our fathers for the gift of life and family.  One website points out that Father’s Day celebrates “fatherhood and male parenting.”  That’s a wonderful way of reminding us of all the good men who have taught, mentored and parented us throughout our lives.  Fatherly love and motherly love are different.  We rejoice in all that we learn of God’s love for us from good parenting and mentoring.

That’s also what makes this Sunday’s Gospel reading particularly difficult.  This is a day when we want to say only loving and kind things to our Fathers, but Jesus is making sure that his disciples understand that they cannot idolize or worship their father or mother, son or daughter more than him.  Our love for God has to be at the root and source of all our love for others, otherwise we will never understand what real self-giving love is, and what life on earth is really all about.

We are so very proud of our high school seniors who have just graduated or will be graduating!  Briana from Lincoln High School and Alicia from Roosevelt High School Early College.  Elijah will be finishing up this summer from Gorton High School. Hooray!  This is a huge and wonderful accomplishment.  Congratulations!

We continue to pray hard for change in our country, for Black Lives Matter, and for compassion and a new understanding of the sins of systemic racism and white supremacy and the energy and courage for systemic change.  Thanks be to God for the courage of protestors throughout the country who will not let down on the insistence that this is the time.  Please continue to pray for the profound healing that will be needed in order to right those things that have been very wrong.

Please check out our new website at stjohnsgettysquare.church.  Jan Valentine, our Administrative Assistant, has worked hard on this important new platform for Saint John’s Church.  The fact that it ends in dot church will help people to find us among the many, many "Saint John's" institutions throughout our country that include schools, hospitals, etc.
For this Sunday, the Third Sunday after Pentecost, Jason Slayden begins our service with Hymn 686, “Come, thou fount of every blessing” (I love the third verse, “Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee….”) The selection from Jeremiah, a prophet who struggled mightily in his relationship with God, and verses from Psalm 69 (both read powerfully by Tara Seeley) speak about suffering and our difficult struggle on earth.  Our newest reader, Karen Marchewka (thanks Karen!) reads the rather complex passage from Romans reminding us that “we are buried with Christ by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”  The Gospel reading from Matthew continues with Jesus’s teaching his disciples about what is more important—our relationship with God.  We end our service with Hymn 675, “Take up your cross, the Savior said, if you would my disciple be.”   Verse 2 is especially helpful right now,” Take up your cross, let not its weight fill your weak spirit with alarm; his strength shall bear your spirit up, and brace your heart, and nerve your arm.”

We ask your prayers this week for our country in the midst of celebrations, a pandemic and protests for protection and compassion for each other, with continued healing prayers for all who are ill, especially for Anthony Giannone Sr. and Lynette Lewis as well as the Montero family. And thanks to Deborah Holcombe, whose beautiful poster on the Hudson Street fence reminds us, “Protected is better than infected.” “Please wear a mask.”

Please join us this Sunday, June 21th, Fathers’ Day, for our worship service that will be sent out by email early Sunday morning. If you know of someone who would like to be on our email list, they can sign up at on our new website stjohnsgettysquare.church or yonkerschurch.org (scroll down and at the bottom of the lighter green column on the right side, click on "Sign up for our Email List"). If you are NOT receiving these emails and had been in the past, please sign up again!  It probably means that you hit "unsubscribe" by mistake.  As it turns out with this particular system, we cannot unsubscribe you, and cannot subscribe you back again if that has happened.

Please feel free to join us for our Zoom coffee hour, which we are holding on Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to about 12:10 p.m.!  It is a joy to connect with you! You can always call in even if you can't get Zoom. The link is below.
Stay safe, dear people of God, wear your masks, and keep the faith!
Blessings, joy and much love,
The Rev. Canon Victoria Sirota
mothervsirota@gmail.com; cell phone 443 257 9963

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