The Cold Springer - Week of November 18th, 2018
Sunday, November 18th, 2018 - Morning Prayer
The Beginning is Nigh!
Jesus said to Peter, James, John, and Andrew, “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs.”
It’s an intense little quote. Over the past 2000 years its been used an innumerable amount of times to support the idea that “THE END IS NIGH!” Three disciples pulled Jesus aside to ask him a question in private. They wanted to know if there would be signs to forewarn them when the temple would fall down, as if that would constitute “the end.” Whatever “the end” is.
Jesus had a knack for avoiding the question while managing to drop some real knowledge on folks. Wars, earthquakes and famines… these aren’t signs that the end is near, these are just the beginning. End-of-the-world types read this and think “things will only get worse,” but Jesus offers us another answer.
Two things have recently converged in my own life to inform my response to this week’s gospel lesson. The first is a book I have just finished called Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Comedy, Tragedy and Fairy Tale by Frederick Buechner.
It’s a quick read, a thoughtful reflection on the Gospels: that record of the tragedy of human experience and failure, the comedy of being loved overwhelmingly by God regardless, and the fairy tale of transformation through that love. When we understand this, Buechner writes: “We perceive the ‘once upon a time’ of the gospel as a continual now, renewing itself over and over and over again.”
Wars and earthquakes and famines were not then and are not now unique signs that the end was or is near. Sadly, they have always occurred. Sadly, they have been a regular part of the cycle of calamity that humanity endures, but they are not the end.
The other half of this week’s convergence was an answer I heard Presiding Bishop Michael Curry offer to a question from the floor of our Long Island clergy day this past Thursday. The question was something like, “How are we supposed to respond to the closing of a church?”
By no means can I recall exactly what Bishop Curry said, but here’s the Spark Notes version: “Life’s difficulties create in us vulnerability, a sort of nakedness. But from this state of dependency we encounter creative possibilities that will lead to unkowable outcomes.” As he wrapped up his answer I was left wondering: was the PB talking about church closings or the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Maybe he was talking about childbirth?
The process of delivering a child looked pretty hard from where I was standing. But what followed the birth pangs, the creative possibilities and unknowable outcomes wrapped in those tiny grey raisins that we would name Martha and Clara were, and are, as numbered as the stars.
Wars, earthquakes and famines, shootings and wildfires, cancer and chronic illness… these aren’t signs that the end is near, these are just the beginning. But this does not have to be a “things will only get worse” situation. Jesus offers us another answer. An answer of hope that requires, in faith, both prayers and action.
Like the pain of childbirth, which brings forth limitless creative possibilities inherent in a tiny human being; the pain of life’s difficulties, and even real tragedies, can compel us to explore the creative possibilities that may just throw a wrench in the wheel of that calamitous cycle. Jesus says, don’t look for signs that something will end. Look for signs that you can begin something new!
When we acknowledge that life is filled with pain and loss, when we accept that God loves us no matter the role we play in that pain and loss, then we can let that love transform us. As Buechner writes: “There is no place here for either saccharine, happy endings, or soft-boiled hope.” Life is too hard for that and the love is too grand. There is a place here though, in the “continual now,” for a creative and hope-filled beginnings.
Yours in Christ!
The Reverend Jesse Lebus
This week our young folks will hear the Godly Play lesson The Ark and the Temple. The building of the temple by Solomon reflected a new way to think about the experience of God’s presence. God was not traveling with the Israelites any longer, he was now visited by the Israelites. These stories of God’s relationship to the people lead us into the Season of Advent. How do we think about our relationship to God now? Do we have to come to church to experience God’s presence, or is God traveling with us?
Following the Godly Play lesson all the children will gather in Sherwood to help make Christmas ornaments for the Christmas Fair on December 8th. If your child is singing in the choir then they will come up to the Children’s Chapel when they have finished singing.
Elements of Faith
Following the Gospel reading any remaining children will head out of church and into the Sherwood Room (Children’s Chapel) to help with making Christmas Ornaments for the fair.
Sunday, November 18th
Familes, this is our November Family Friday, but it's on Sunday! All families are welcome to join our Rector and Curate and their families for cider pressing (and drinking) at the Rectory. Food, drink and Fellowship! This is a repeat event and a ton of fun. If you are coming, please bring snacks.
Wednesdays: Youth and Parents Night
Cold Springers Youth Group
Wednesdays in Advent (5, 12,19)
Children ages 9-12! Come to St. John's on Wednesday's in Advent for joy filled evenings making and baking! We will start at 5:30 with dinner and then jump right into the activities. On December 5th they will create baked goods for our Chirstmas Fair on the Saturday that follows. On December 12th they will make custom disc sleds for winter downhill fun. And on December 19th the Cold Springers will create a special Christmas gift for their parents. If your children are choir members just stick around.
Parent's Circle Book Group
Wednesdays in Advent (5, 12,19)
Parent's, you want to do this! Come together to discuss entertaining and helpful books about faithful parenting without feeling indoctrinated or "wierd." We decided to kick off this group in the season of Advent to run concurrently with our Cold Springers Youth Group. So basically, if your kids are 9-12, then you get some faithfilled baby sitting, too. We are looking to get some space for kids who are younger.
The evening begins with dinner at 5:30 followed by discussion until 7pm or so. For the three Wednesdays in Advent we will take a look at the Rev. Tim Schenck's book: What Size are God's Shoes; Kids, Chaos, and the Spiritual Life. You can purchase and read it, or you can just show up. The entries in this quick read are brief and we will look at a few of them during each get together.
St. John's Annual Christmas Fair
Saturday, December 8th
This year's fair is coming soon and we could use some youth volunteers. The evening before and the morning of the fair we will need help setting up and when the fair closes we will need help wrapping it all up! There is also some assistance needed in kitchen. Of course all hours can be put towards community service. If you have a youngster whose interested, please contact The Reverend Jesse Lebus,[email protected].
Toy Drive Sunday
Sunday, December 16th
We'll be gathering toys for the Family Service league through mid-December but we wanted to have a special Sunday where our young members could bring toys in for families that are in need. So start thinking, looking buying now and have your kids bring a present in to offer.