In the wake of the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd this past summer, we at St. John’s Tower Grove, along with the rest of the country, began to ask ourselves: how are we complicit in maintaining the system of racial inequity that allows these events to happen again and again?
We have been hard at work asking difficult questions and putting together a series of educational opportunities to help us continue in this self-reflection. As a result of this work, St. John’s Tower Grove is proud to launch a new speaker series aimed at facilitating discussions surrounding race, power, and privilege in our community.
To kick off the inaugural event, we have secured Wendy Werner, founding board member, past chair, and current vice-chair of ArchCity Defenders as our speaker for the evening.
ArchCity Defenders is a holistic legal advocacy organization that combats the criminalization of poverty and state violence, especially in communities of color. ArchCity Defenders’ foundation of civil and criminal legal representation, social services, impact litigation, policy and media advocacy, and community collaboration achieves and inspires justice and equitable outcomes for people throughout the St. Louis region and beyond.
Please join us on Sunday, January 31st at 6pm via zoom:
Meeting ID: 823 8780 7279; Passcode: 641467
By the Reverend Sally S. Weaver
Pastor Sally gave this sermon on January 3, 2021.
Just as we do with the weather, the Church marks time in seasons. Beginning Nov 29, we celebrated the Church season of Advent for 4 weeks. Then on Dec 25, we began celebrating the season of Christmas. How long is the Church season of Christmas? I’ll give you a hint – “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…” Yes, it’s 12 days long, which means it ends on the night of Jan 5. For you Shakespeare buffs, his play Twelfth Night refers to the last day of Christmas; it was written to be performed on Jan 5.
On Jan 6 we begin the season of Epiphany. We’re moving Epiphany up a bit, celebrating it today (Jan 3), since we’re together on Sundays. What is the important event that we remember on Jan 6, the day of the Epiphany? Yes, the arrival of the wise men who come to visit the baby Jesus.
But why in the world is it called “the Epiphany” rather than “the arrival of guys with gifts.” An epiphany happens when we suddenly understand or see something that we didn’t before. It’s an “ah ha!” moment. Have you ever had the experience of trying to put something back together and you can’t figure out how it goes. You try and you try. Then all of a sudden it’s clear – you have an epiphany -- you see how to reconstruct it.
So we said that the Epiphany celebrates the visit of the wise men bearing gifts to the baby Jesus. If this is an epiphany, what is it that is revealed? What is suddenly clear that wasn’t before? What is made clear is: that Jesus is not just for a certain, select group of people called the Jews. Jesus is for everyone. The wise men who visit Jesus are not Jewish. In the place where Jesus lived, people who weren’t Jews were called “Gentiles.” The wise men were Gentiles.
by the Reverend Sally S. Weaver
by the Reverend Dr. Warren Crews
The opening words of Isaiah, chapter 40, in today’s lesson from the Hebrew scriptures tell of a conversation in the heavenly council about how miserable the Hebrew people are living in exile in Babylon as a punishment for their sins. God suddenly announces Israel has been punished enough. It is time to restore Israel.
God’s opening words to the council, “Comfort, o comfort, my people” has been immortalized by Handel’s Messiah. In chapter 40, three different members of the heavenly council respond to God. The first one commands the construction of a great highway in the wilderness in which every valley shall be lifted up and every mountain and hill made low, and the rough places made plain. He is imagining a new direct road between Babylon and Jerusalem, as opposed to the very long northern detour around the great Syrian desert wilderness.
by the Reverend Sally S. Weaver
Today is the first Sunday in Advent. Does anyone know what the word “advent” means? It means coming or arrival. What is coming? What are we waiting for in Advent? Yes, after 4 Sundays of Advent, 4 Sundays of waiting, we celebrate Christmas Eve on Dec 24 and Christmas Day on Dec 25 as the day Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
We are waiting for Jesus. But Jesus was born over 2,000 years ago, he was crucified by Pontius Pilate, died and then rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples for a time. So Jesus has been with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit for a very long time.
by the Reverend Kevin McGrane
Deacon Kevin delivered this sermon on November 8, 2020.
As many of you may know, there was a political election last Tuesday. If you didn’t know that, well, it’s too late to vote.
I have been following the news regarding the election results, as well as the thoughts and opinions of many of my family and friends on social media, and I see a couple of overarching themes among them.
Most people are disappointed in the results, whether their chosen candidates or propositions won or lost. You would think that, if someone’s candidate or proposition won, they’d be happy...but lots of folks aren’t. They seem to be just as disappointed as the person whose candidate or prop lost the election.
It seems like they can’t be happy about the results because they did not get something else that they were hoping for, perhaps even more than winning. And that is the satisfaction of repudiation.
by The Reverend Dr. Warren Crews
For the last three Sundays we have been listening to parables from the 25th chapter of Matthew, dealing with the theme of judgment. Three weeks ago, we had the Parable of the Five Wise and Five Foolish Virgins, who responded differently when the bridegroom finally arrived. Last week it was the Parable of the Talents. Three slaves of a very rich man are left with great sums of their master’s money. They were judged on how they handled his money, which differed greatly. In today’s gospel, which you just heard, is the famous Parable of the Great Judgment, better known as the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. On Judgment Day the judge, who is Christ returned, will separate all the people of all the nations into two groups, just as a shepherd separates his flock into sheep and goats. The criteria for the separation are a set of actions: feeding the hungry, giving the thirsty a drink, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, and visiting those in prison. Those who did those things are rewarded with eternal life, and those who didn’t are condemned to the fires of Hell.
During our Sunday meeting, the Vestry discussed (belatedly, but still) the lack of a means to post information for the congregation now that we're still not in our building. Our answer? A virtual "bulletin board" here on our blog. From here on out, once we approve minutes, we'll post them here, and announce that they're posted in the eblast.
On Sunday, November 22, we approved the minutes for our meetings in September and October. Click the links below for PDF documents containing those minutes.
Questions? Email Jeff: firstname.lastname@example.org
St. John’s continues to work with Winter Outreach, a volunteer organization that provides emergency shelter for people experiencing homelessness. Through this ministry we strive to live out our baptismal covenant to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves.
The COVID pandemic has required Winter Outreach to adjust their procedures to provide shelters with larger spaces and more ability to keep guests socially distant. Winter Outreach has also worked with infectious disease specialists to develop procedures that protect the health of both volunteers and guests, including PPE requirements.
This season St. John's is teaming up with Christ Church Cathedral to staff an emergency shelter at St. Paul’s UCC (3510 Giles) on Monday nights when the temperature drops below 20° or 25° with precipitation. The combined effort of our congregations will leverage the much needed resources to implement the shelter.
Various members of the St. John's congregation contribute to this blog. For editorial suggestions, contact Jeff McIntire-Strasburg at email@example.com