A message from your new Rector
As your new Rector I wish to thank all of you who attended my Installation Mass held on February 25 and for your support and encouragement over the past ten years. I would like to extend a special thanks to Fr. William Neuroth for his efforts to prepare me for this role. I truly would not be in this position if not for him.
I also wish to thank Bishop Rommie Starks for his consideration of the offices he has appointed me to. It has been a long journey but there is another plateau to reach; that of building up our parish to ensure a thriving existence for many years to come. It will require tireless efforts by all of us, but I am confident it is an achievable goal.
Sermon for the Institution of Father Bryan Keith Newman
February 25, 2012
Below you will find a powerful message in the wonderful sermon that Bishop Starks delivered at the Installation Mass of our new Rector, Fr. Bryan K. Newman. It is not only a ringing endorsement of Fr. Newman, but a lesson for us that unity, commitment and communication are most important as we forge ahead into the future here at St. John’s.
“Jesus said, ‘Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We are able.'” (Matthew 20:6)
What a great joy it is for me to be here at St. John’s this morning, as we gather to institute, induct and install our well-beloved brother in Christ, Bryan Keith Newman, as your rector. I would like to reflect this morning on the Gospel passage I read earlier and what it has to teach us about the ministry. In it, Matthew tells us a story with which is familiar — that of a pushy mother. Salome, the mother of James, and John, and the wife of Zebedee, barges through the crowd as Jesus is addressing his disciples at a crucial time in his ministry, when he is setting his face toward Jerusalem.
While Salome was not unaware of that fact, neither did she fully grasp its significance. She probably had not heard what Jesus had just told the Twelve: that he was to be betrayed, condemned to death, mocked, scourged and crucified. But in her defense, even though the disciples had heard the words, they probably had not
fully understood what their Lord meant. All Salome knew was that Jesus was to be important, become some kind of a king, and she wanted her sons to be his princes, to be within the orbit of his power and influence, to bask in Jesus’ limelight.
Like all mothers, she was ambitious for her sons. She wanted her children to succeed, to be higher up and better off than the family that produced them. Aware, perhaps, that Jesus had shown some degree of favoritism toward her sons who accompanied Jesus to the Mount of the Transfiguration? They had proved their mettle; their dedication and faithfulness were not in question, so Salome blurts out her request, which must have come across more like a command: “Grant that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”
Jesus rightly answered them not the mother “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” Jesus was talking about the suffering and death he would soon undergo — and, as it turns out, the suffering and death of James, who was the first of the disciples to become a martyr. Jesus was asking them if they could walk the walk, in addition to talking the talk.
When confronted with this, they responded, “We are able”. A Biblical scholar had this to say about this text: “It is quite wrong to think that for the Christian the cup must always mean the short, sharp, bitter, agonizing struggle of martyrdom; the cup may well be the long routine of the Christian life, with all its daily sacrifice and disappointments.” My sisters and brothers in Christ, as you and Father Bryan embark on this spiritual journey, Jesus asks you if you can drink the cup.
First, Jesus asks if you can drink the cup of conflict. At this point, you are doubtless in a joyous period. Although you have known Father for a long time, as Rector he is in a different state. It’s hard to find fault in a dedicated priest. But along the way, difficulties will surface, misunderstandings will arise. Decisions may be made for the soul’s health of this congregation that may not set well with you. That’s o.k. I pray, however, that at such times, instead of murmuring among yourselves, starting telephone campaigns or engaging in idle gossip, you seek the counsel of the prophet Isaiah who said, “Come, let us reason together though our sins be like scarlet.”
Jesus asks, too, if you can drink the cup of financial uncertainty. We are experiencing a serious economic downturn; a recession or even a depression, depending on which economic expert you listen to. The church is not immune to this development. We are subject to the whims of the same stock market as everybody else. We have to make hard choices about what we can do without. But don’t let the economic climate be an excuse for inadequate stewardship. One of the few things I remember from my confirmation class almost forty years ago is the question in the Catechism: “What is your bounden duty and service as a Christian?” And its answer: “My bounden duty and service, is to worship God every Sunday in his Church, and to work, pray and give for the spread of Christ’s Kingdom.”
Somehow, we too often forget about the “give” part of that promise. We become, “nickel and dime lovers of the Lord.” In some parishes, when it comes to the Every Member Canvass, there are people who say that they will give, but they won’t pledge. When asked “Why?” they explain that they would rather not make a commitment. These are the same people who make a commitment to the car dealership for thirty-six months, to the mortgage company for thirty years, and to VISA for the rest of their natural life! But, when it comes to the church, we say, “The Lord will provide.”
Jesus asks if you can drink the cup of confusion. We are a group that includes many smaller groups. This fact is something that we should be ashamed of and confused by the reasons for each split. But this confusion should not keep us from our true calling to love God. As you seek to spread Christ’s Kingdom, you must be mindful of the fact that you may well have to follow the example of the poet Rudyard Kipling, and “keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.”
Jesus asks if you can drink the cup of hospitality. As you build up the Kingdom, remember that the church was never meant to be a private club. In fact, it is, in the words of a former Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, the only organization whose primary purpose is to minister to those not its members. Some of you, believing this, may have tried your hand at evangelism, only to be met with the comment from neighbors or co-workers that they wouldn’t darken the door of the church, since it’s full of hypocrites. The next time you’re told that, give this response. Say that they are absolutely right; the church is full of hypocrites, but that there’s room for one more!
My friends in Christ, I can assure you that with Father Newman as rector, you will have true religion in this place. You will worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. In his preaching, Father as the prophet admonishes, will tell you not what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. He will be a faithful pastor, knowing that unless he is there to minister to you when you are sick, or bereaved, or sorrowful or distressed, everything else in his ministry will be for naught. This parish’s machinery will hum, as you exercise your respective offices together, caring not only for one another but for those, especially the least, the lost and the last of society, who yearn for the salvific message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Father Bryan has been truly called to this ministry. He has been anointed by the Holy Spirit. He will be sustained by prayer. But guess what? He cannot accomplish it alone. In the Book of Exodus, when the Israelites were fighting against Amalek, Moses’ arms grew weary. And every time his arms grew weary, Amalek would prevail in battle. So Aaron and Hur went up to the top of the hill, and took a stone and put it under Moses and he sat on it. Then they held up his hands, one on his right and the other on his left, and his hands were steady until the sun set, and Amalek was defeated. I am confident that you will take turns being Aaron and Hur for Father.
Now what I have to say now is intended for your new rector, but the rest of you may eavesdrop if you like. My brother, the obtuse disciples might not have understood the impact of Jesus’ words but you certainly do. You know that citizens of his Kingdom do not seek titles, positions or influence. You know that Kingdom citizens are called to please God and not themselves. And you know that you are to fashion your ministry after Jesus Christ, who came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a
ramsom for many.
You know, in the words of the Prayer Book, “how great a treasure is committed to your charge. For they are the sheep of Christ, which he bought with his death, and for whom he shed his blood. The Church and Congregation whom you must serve, is his Spouse, and his Body. . . See that you never cease your labor, your care and diligence, until you have done all that lieth in you, according to your bounden duty, to bring all such as are or shall be committed to your charge, unto that agreement in the faith and knowledge of God, and to that ripeness and perfectness of age in Christ.”
May God who has given you the will to do all these things, give you the grace and power to perform them; and may you and your people, in chorus with James, his brother John, his pushy mother Salome and all the saints, say to the Lord with a loud voice, “We are able to drink.”
An Occasion to be Grateful
I am always grateful for an occasion to be grateful! First of all, if there is an occasion to be grateful it means that something good has happened. There was such an occasion to be grateful for last Saturday, February 25, 2012, as we celebrated the conclusion of my 29 years as your Pastor (Bitter-Sweet), and Father Newman’s official installation as your Rector by our Bishop, Rommie Starks.
There is an occasion to be grateful for all of us at St. John’s as we reflect on the countless examples of the generous gifts of Time, Talent and Treasure by all of our blessed members through the years. My own ministry has been enriched and rewarding because you have shared yourself and your gifts with me, St. John’s, and our community.
An occasion to be grateful! God is still speaking and He certainly got my attention when I began to experience serious health issues nearly two years ago. Among other things, He led me to awareness that it was time for my retirement and a change in leadership at St. John’s Church. I prayed that His Will be done and He responded with Father Newman being called, trained, ordained and installed as our new Rector. Let us love and support Fr. Newman so that he can effectively lead us on our spiritual journey, hopefully for many years.
An occasion to be grateful! Over the years we have experienced many joys and sorrows, especially with the losses of our loved ones, who were such great examples of God’s gracious love and gifts! I am grateful for you and all those who have blessed me with an abundance of support, love and prayers through these many years. As always, you have my love and prayers. THANK YOU!
Father William Neuroth
March Vestry Meeting
Our Vestry meeting for March will be held on Thursday, March 15, at 6:30 p.m. If you are a parishioner with particular business you would like discussed, please approach any member of the Vestry or Fr. Newman and let us know that you will be attending.
Spiritual Tidbits for March from Father Tim
“Man is a twofold being comprising soul and body, and has two orders of senses and two corresponding orders of virtues. The soul has five senses and the body five. The senses of the soul, which are also called the faculties, are intellect, reason, opinion, fantasy and sense-perception. The senses of the body are sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. The virtues which belong to these senses are twofold and so, too, are the vices. Everyone should know how many virtues there are of the soul and how many of the body, and what kind of passions belong to the soul and what kind to the body. The virtues which we ascribe to the soul are primarily the four cardinal virtues: courage, moral judgment, self-restraint and justice. These give birth to the other virtues of the soul: faith, hope, love, prayer, humility, gentleness, long-suffering, forbearance, kindness, freedom from anger, knowledge of God, cheerfulness, simplicity, calmness, sincerity, freedom from vanity, freedom from pride, absence of envy, honesty, freedom from avarice, compassion, mercifulness, generosity, fearlessness, freedom from dejection, deep compunction, modesty, reverence, desire for the blessings held in store, longing for the kingdom of God, and aspiration for divine sonship.” St. John of Damaskos (c. 675-c. 749) On the Virtues and the Vices
St. John of Damaskos Confessor & Doctor of the Church
Feast Day March 27th
“No justification of virtue will enable a man to be virtuous. Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism. I had sooner play cards against a man who was quite skeptical about ethics, but bred to believe that ‘a gentleman does not cheat’, than against an irreproachable moral philosopher who had been brought up among sharpers.” C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
In case you are wondering, a “sharper” is a thief who uses trickery to part an owner from his or her money possessions. Knowing the virtues is definitely a great start. Training ourselves (and our children and grandchildren) to implement them in our lives though is what it takes to let Christ live through us. God is the source of every virtue, as the sun is of daylight. To each virtue there is an opposing vice; hence the wicked take vices for virtues. Fasting during Lent will enable us to identify any of those devilish vices that may have crept into our lives. We should fast before the Lord according to our strength, for to do this will purge us from our iniquities and sins; it exalts the soul, sanctifies the mind, drives away demons, and prepares us for God’s presence. I pray that your Lent is deep and meaningful.
Please watch the bulletin for our next Spirituality Meeting. If you are feeling stressed, anxious, on your last nerve and desiring a deeper prayer life, you may want to attend. I will be teaching “The Nazareth Prayer Rope” taught to me by my Spiritual Father. We will use a standard Rosary to pray “the life of Christ” and it will take only one class after Mass.
“A three-stranded rope isn’t easily broken” Ecclesiastes IV: 12
In the first strand we pray the Way of Jesus…
In the second strand we pray the Life of Jesus…
In the third strand we pray the Name of Jesus…
“On the cross we pray the Creed; this is our Rule of Faith. Then on the first three beads we declare the three theological virtues of faith, hope and love – our Rule of Life. Finally in a threaded sequence, in a sort of Braille, there follows the entire New Testament decipherable only by the praying hands of the believer, this is our Rule of Prayer.” F.J. Sheen
I will supply some beads if you will supply the hands!!!
The Annunciation Gustave Dore
The Annunciation (or Evangelismos in Greek) to the Theotokos (St. Mary) is one of our major feasts in the Church, celebrated on March 25th. According to the Gospel of St. Luke I: 26-38, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to St. Mary to announce to her that she would conceive and bear a son, even though she “knew no man.” According to holy tradition Mary had come home to her parents when she was only fifteen when she was visited by Gabriel. This date was selected by the Church Fathers to be exactly nine months ahead of the Nativity of Our Lord (or vice-versa?), indicating that Christ was conceived in perfection at that time “of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,” as stated in the Nicene Creed. Many men and women are named for this event and should celebrate their name day on this date.
Parish Hall Update
Our new Pella windows have just been installed and they look wonderful. Rich Seyberth is in the process of collecting some sizing and pricing options for the stained glass overlays that can be purchased by family members as memorials to honor loved ones who have passed on. If you think this is something you would be interested in, please contact a Vestry member. With a possible total of 16 overlays available, window overlay locations will be offered on a window-by-window, first come, first served and first paid basis.
The Altar Guild is responsible for making the sanctuary ready for all services. Its members maintain the church’s liturgical requirements for services by preparing the altar, laundering linens, preserving the sacred vessels, and arranging the floral displays that beautify the church. If you would be interested in serving on the Altar Guild, or if would like to give flowers for a Mass in memory of a loved one, please contact Joyce Murray.
Kitchen Aid Needed
Have you ever been to the grocery store and passed on a real good bargain because your family has plenty of that particular item at home? The next time this happens, let’s remember our Church family here at St. John’s. In an effort to cut down on some of the costs associated with running a smooth operating kitchen and having tidy restrooms, the ACW and Vestry would appreciate any donations of the following items:
Paper towels, Heavy Duty 33-gallon trash bags, Coffee (Regular & Decaf), Coffee creamer, Sweet-n-Low, Quart-size zip lock bags, Cooking Spray, Cookies, Soft Scrub, Dish detergent, Baking Soda and Toilet paper. To avoid any confusion with our other ministries, please place any items that you purchase on the kitchen counter and we will put them away for future use. Thanks!
End of the Month Club
The End of the Month Club is a chance for parishioners and friends to meet at a local restaurant to share a meal and fellowship. All are welcome. The only requirement is that you like to eat out and want to socialize with and get to know your fellow parishioners better. Most times, we meet for lunch on the last Thursday of the month. A few times a year we meet for dinner, so people who can’t make the luncheons have a chance to share in this fellowship. Our next gathering will be March 29 at the Monmouth Street Dixie Chili at 1 p.m. Call Fr. Al and Kathy Houghham at (859)331-2951 to make your reservation. If you want to come, but need a ride, please call them. Usually, we can make arrangements so all who want to attend can come.
Anglican Church Women
The Host/Hostesses for the Lenten Soup and Salad Dinners on Wednesday evenings are:
2/29 – Kay Matthews and Judy Hulsey
3/07 – Joyce Murray and Toy Hall
3/14 – Brenda Strong and Kim Marshall
3/21 – Liz Robbins and Sally Whalen
3/28 – Odie Hickman and Kathy Wieland
As noted above, we only have two people listed for each night and we could really use another helper on each of these nights, so please add your name to one of the evenings on the sign-up sheet in the Parish Hall. Thank you.
We are working on items to sell or raffle at the Spaghetti Dinner to be held April 28, 2012, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Currently for sale or raffle are plants – hostas and violets. If you have a craft or want to help with plants, please see Judy Hulsey.
ACW will be having a retreat at Judy Hulsey’s on May 19, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Just a note in closing… When you are taking a cup of coffee and a couple of cookies, please remember to leave a little money to help pay for these items. Remember only the hole in the donut is free!
Interfaith Hospitality Network News
This past week three families were in the IHN program. The families served were a mother and father with a one year-old, a mother and a five year-old son, and a mother and a two year-old son. A total of $69.92 was spent for groceries for breakfasts and lunches. The next time for St. John’s to host will be the week of April 29, 2012. Thank you for your donations. All donations are appreciated.
Brenda Strong, Coordinator
The choir is growing in numbers… THANKS BE TO GOD! Wilma Herklotz is back! She is an inspiration to all of us. Also Natalie Evans has joined the choir. WELCOME TO NATALIE. Our choir member ages now range from ten to eighty-seven. If you would like to sing in the choir please join us on Wednesday evenings. The choir and Chuck our organist would love to have you join us. We are now in the process of preparing for Palm Sunday and Easter and we need voices!
March Birthdays & Anniversaries
Fr. And Mary Ann Neuroth – Anniversary – March 13
Joanna Barnett – Birthday – March 16
Judy Hulsey – Birthday – March 28
Kay and Kevin Matthews – Birthday – March 31
Changes to Wednesday Night Lenten Services
After consulting with the Vestry and many parishioners during our February 19 coffee hour, it has been decided that we will continue to celebrate Holy Mass on Wednesdays through Lent (rather than Evening Prayer), followed by Stations of the Cross. The sermon during the Mass will act as our Lenten reflection. Stations of the Cross is an ancient practice in the Church that re-enacts the events of Our Lord’s Passion and Death. There are few better ways to come to an understanding of the price that was paid for our salvation than the Stations of the Cross.
Lenten Soup and Salad Dinners
A St. John’s tradition returns this Lent with our Soup and Salad meals after our Wednesday Lenten Service. These meals are always delicious and demonstrate just how many talented cooks we have in our parish. Please join us every Wednesday in March for some great food and good talk this Lent.
Jr. Warden’s Report
Little by little, we all have begun to see firsthand some of the improvements that our Vestry and a devoted group of “worker bees” are making here at St. John’s. We feel it is our duty to restore our beautiful church to its splendor of many years ago after way too many years of allowing it to become drab and in disrepair.
Here is a list of some of the improvements made over the past couple of years:
There are only a couple of major improvements left that remain on our “to do” list. That would be new carpet in the Church and the repair/replacement of the bell tower panels. We hope to have the tower panels complete sometime this year, but new carpet will have to wait until at least next year since the parish hall windows have used up our “major expenditure” money for this year. While the Vestry has approved these improvements and volunteers have offered their time and talents, please know that none of this would be possible without the generosity of parishioners such as you. For that we thank you.
In closing, I want you to know I am honored to serve as your Jr. Warden on the Vestry. I feel like I’m ready to handle any problems that arise thanks to the mentorship of Don Prigge and “O” Hickman, and Tim Lenz and Rich Seyberth, who are always just a phone call away. I have them all on speed-dial!
Why Did Jesus Have to Die?
This incredibly important question involves a matter central to Christianity; yet effectively answering it is often difficult for Christians. However, before we answer the question, “Why did Jesus have to die?” it’s also important to understand that Jesus clearly understood his mission on earth involved laying down his life as a sacrifice. In other words, Jesus knew it was His Father’s will for him to die. He proves his foreknowledge and understanding of his death in these Scripture passages:
Mark 8:31 Then Jesus began to tell them that he, the Son of Man, would suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the leaders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, and 3 days later he would rise again.
Mark 10:32-34 Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus once more began to describe everything that was about to happen to him in Jerusalem. “When we get to Jerusalem,” he told them, “the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die and hand him over to the Romans. They will mock him, spit on him, beat him with their whips, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again.”
Mark 10: 38 But Jesus answered, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of sorrow I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?”
Mark 10:43-45 Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 14:22-25 As they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread and asked God’s blessing on it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And he said to them, “This is my blood, poured out for many, sealing the covenant between God and his people. I solemnly declare that I will not drink wine again until that day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.”
John 10:17-18 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
This last verse also explains why it is pointless to blame the Jews or the Romans—or anyone else, for that matter, for “killing” Jesus. Jesus, having the power to “lay it down” or “take it again,” freely gave up his life. It truly doesn’t matter then, who “killed” Jesus. The ones who nailed the nails only helped carry out the destiny he came to fulfill by laying down his life on the cross.
“Easter says you can put Truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.” – Clarence W. Hall