By the Reverend Jon Stratton
Father Stratton shared this sermon with us for our February 28, 2021, Zoom service.
"Make it plain preacher, make it plain!" If you have a background in the Black Church tradition, or a Pentecostal denomination, or maybe even an evangelical or Baptist congregation, you might have heard the refrain to "make it plain" shout from the pews during a Sunday morning sermon. "Make it plain, preacher, make it plain." That’s not so much a request as it is an affirmation. An affirmation that the preacher has stepped away from mile-high theology, wrapped up the complicated Greek word study, and closed the books on the exegetical inquiry, and, perhaps finally, started speaking the clear, plain truth in a language that the people can understand.
By the Reverend Nancy Emmel-Gunn
Our Gospel reading is found in the first chapter of Mark. This passage is immediately after the first verses of Mark, where we are introduced to John, who is doing the business of baptizing people. Mark doesn’t tell us what Jesus has been up to this point in his now adult life. Other Gospel writers tell us Jesus’ earthly parents knew from divine visitations that that was a special baby, the very son of God. But we are not provided a history of Jesus’ home life or vocation.
We can, however, use our theological imagination. Perhaps Jesus was living with his parents, working in his father’s carpentry business, coming home each night to a nice meal cooked by Mom, spending time with his family and friends, and being a good, observant, young Jewish man.
Bishop Deon Johnson will preside over our St. John's Ash Wednesday service. The service will be on Zoom; the link to join will be available in the eblast. Bishop Deon and Deacon Nancy will celebrate the service at St. John's but the readers will interface on Zoom. We will celebrate both Word and Table. Because of bad weather conditions, we have decided not to open the church after the service for the imposition of ashes as we had originally planned. We hope you can join us. But most importantly, be safe and take care!
We will also livestream the service on FB LIve. If you've like to follow along there, go to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/towergrovechurch
The service bulletin is available to download below:
By the Reverend Canon Doris Westfall
“Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Mark 9:7
Clouds, mountains, and God. They go together like coffee and cream, peanut butter and jelly, bread and wine. In other words, where you find one you will often find the other. In today’s readings we have what are known as theophanies, visible encounters with God.
After a reading of the Gospel by the Reverend Nancy Emmel, the Reverend Rebecca Ragland preaches on the question "Who belongs in the household of faith?"
1/24/2021 0 Comments
By the Reverend Sally S. Weaver
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.
Various members of the St. John's congregation contribute to this blog. For editorial suggestions, contact Jeff McIntire-Strasburg at firstname.lastname@example.org
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