This Week at St. John’s: Sheer gifts

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Sheer gifts

Gratitude is in the air these days, from our recent parish retreat to this week’s national holiday. All those people and things you love? Sheer gifts. In your saner moments you remember this, and all you can say is Thanks.

But it’s not always as easy as it looks.

There are, shall we say, those funkier days with bitterly cold rains, some trauma or other, a friend’s hurtful remark, a rapidly depleting checking account, physical pain, another hateful orange nightmare on the political front. In such moments, gratitude can be the last thing on your mind, can even seem phony. “Thanks for what?” you hear yourself say angrily.

Time to grab gratitude by the tail. Do this by consciously grabbing ahold of some small gift, the simplest of things: you opened your eyes this morning and–voila!–you could see! Not everyone can do this, no law requires it, but there you are with those eyeballs scanning the world around you as you–miracle of miracles!–climb out of the sack, stand on your feet, and stumble around for your slippers. Each simple movement of yours a gift, a miracle not to be taken for granted.

Keep going: the morning shower, your coffee the way you like it, your love for your kid, the food you like, the artfully sculpted clouds outside the window. Don’t stop: the wisdom and good friends the years have brought you; your top three favorite books; your magical, crazy cat. Keep it rolling: your old friend’s sick but hilarious joke, a thought-provoking article in the morning paper, the Muni train arriving on time.

And so on.

Now: Notice the change that rises in your heart, the new lightness in your step, the fresh new sense of being yourself. Even on the grayest day you are blessed beyond words–yep, even when you’re pretty sure God is rudely ignoring you. (“I thank God that He hasn’t given me all the things I’ve prayed for,” C.S. Lewis once wrote, “because as I look back now I realize it would have been disastrous to have received some of them.”) The bleaker moments also have their gems. How many can you spot?

There’s much, much more. If you don’t short-circuit the process, if you keep the magic going, you may before long stumble across the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the One who formed your inmost being, who is crazy about you, “loves you as a mother”, and who is with you every step of the way. That gratitude you initially grabbed by the tail is starting to overwhelm. It is time to pray.

So here’s a prayer of thanks for the flawed, spotty, and dotted beauty that surrounds us every day. (It’s more fun to read it out loud for its outrageous rhythm and images and sounds.)

Pied Beauty
BY GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

See you in the church on Julian Avenue.

Peace,
Richard

This coming Advent and Cristosal

Advent begins December 3rd, when, once again, our hearts turn to Central America. And again this year, each week of Advent we’ll take up a second collection for Cristosal.

You don’t hear much in the news these days about Central America. If you did, your heart would break. As our friend, Kathy Veit, writes:

It is a crisis of violence and forced displacement on a scale seen otherwise only in official war zones. If you are unfamiliar with this crisis (it hasn’t made our front pages since 2015), this recent article provides good background: Trump Administration Suddenly Cancels Refugee Program That Saved Lives of Central American Children. This brief film also brings the story to life.
(See more of what Kathy writes about Cristosal’s work in Central America.)

Our parish has been honored to quietly accompany three young people–Allan, Mirza, and Isrrael–who fled Honduras and Guatemala for their lives. Each is here on their own, their families and loved ones far away. Allan, recently baptized, is now one of us. Mirza and Isrrael we see less often; their lives are jammed with school, more than one part-time job, soccer, and a little time to just be teenagers. But, in each case, we help as best we can: Safeway cards when the food starts to run out at the end of the month, an occasional hug, maybe a job lead.

But we also need to look at the root of the problem. What drove Allan and Mirza and Isrrael to flee for their lives in the first place? Their stories are part of a much larger one of the violence and oppression that afflicts their countries. It is this reality Cristosal robustly challenges.

You’ll hear more in the days ahead.

When we pass the hat a second time each Sunday of Advent, please give from your heart.


12/2: Advent Cleaning Party

Sr. Warden Diana McDonnell and Timm Dobbins invite you to come spruce up the sanctuary in preparation for Advent and the visit of Bishop Robinson. We need people to dust the window sills, polish the altar/lectern/pulpit, sweep down cobwebs, and other small chores inside.

We hope to be done by noon, so come for an hour or the whole morning!

When: Saturday, December 2, 9:00 a.m
Where: St. John’s


12/2: Sara Warfield to become a priest!

[Click the invitation to enlarge it.]

12/3/17: St. John’s to host openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson

On Sunday, December 3, Bishop Robinson helps us begin the Advent season. He will preach at our usual 10:15am Liturgy. His sermon topic: “Jesus Doesn’t Need Any More Admirers!”

After the Liturgy, he’ll lead us in an “Everything you’ve wanted to ask Bishop Robinson but never had the chance” forum.

Spread the word. Bring your friends.


Wednesdays in Advent: Evening prayer at St. John’s

A candle-lit, quiet, prayerful way to end your work day, settle into the evening, and prepare for Christmas.

When: Each Wednesday of Advent, beginning December 6th, 6pm
Where: St. John’s, in the nave (unless otherwise specified)
Join us!


12/4: St. John’s Book Club to read Anne Lamott’s Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers


At our next meeting, we will discuss Anne Lamott’s Help, Thanks, Wow:  the Three Essential Prayers, a book which promises to “get us through tough times, everyday struggles, and the hard work of ordinary life.”

When: December 4, 7:30pm
Where: Leah and Cecil’s


1/27: The Gubbio Project!

We are excited to have been at St. John the Evangelist for two years and to celebrate we are hosting a brunch for you and the guests!

Details: There will be 50 seats for supporters and 50 for guests.
Tickets are $40 and will buy you and a homeless guest a ticket.
Date: January 27 at 11 AM

Click here to request ticket informaiton


RESCHEDULING: St. John’s celebrates 160 years!

Our 160th Anniversary Celebration will be rescheduled to coincide with the Grand Opening of our new garden, sometime this Spring, date TBD.

A truly festive celebration with each other and our extended family to mark an amazing 160-year journey! Spread the word!

Tuesday, November 21
5:45am – 1:00pm Sacred Rest
7:00pm – 9:00pm Mission Dharma (Nave)
Wednesday, November 22
5:45am – 1:00pm Sacred Rest
1:00pm – 3:30pm Custodial Service, Entire Building
Thursday, November 23
9am – Morning prayer with the Gubbio Project
Friday, November 24
5:45am – 1:00pm Sacred Rest
2:00pm – 3:00pm Daniel Gonzalez/Organ
Saturday, November 25
5-11am Julian Pantry (food distribution at 10am)
10:00am – 1:00pm Custodial Service Entire Building
Sunday, November 26
10:15am Choral Eucharist
12:30-6pm Indivisible
Monday, November 27
5:45am – 1:00pm Sacred Rest
6:00pm – 9:00pm Danzantes Xitlali (Nave)
7:00pm – 9:30pm Lone Rangers meeting (Library)See our entire calendar here.
Readings for next Sunday (Reading them in advance can make the Liturgy more powerful for you!)

The Rev’d Dr. Jack Eastwood, preaching and presiding

The fourth-quarter rota is here.

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