Weekly Dispatch, March 1st, 2023
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St. John's Weekly Dispatch, v. 2

St. John's Schedule

  • Catechesis Hour – Sundays at 9:00am before Church
  • Holy Eucharist – Sundays at 10:30am at Church and via Facebook
  • Midday Prayer – Tuesdays at 11:00am in Malone University's Cafeteria
  • Choristers/Bible Study/Evening Prayer – Wednesdays at 6:30pm at Church
  • Eagle and Child – Thursday, March 2nd, 7:00pm at the Bittaker's

A Message from Fr. Joe

Dear Friends in Christ,

Last week we were invited to follow and keep a blessed and holy Lent. This invitation included a variety of spiritual disciplines and practices to consider. Each dispatch throughout Lent, I am going to provide my own reflections on these practices, their biblical grounding, and their benefit for the season.

Considering our previous Gospel reading on the temptation of Jesus, I felt it appropriate to reflect upon fasting. Fasting is often equated with giving up food or types of food, but it can also extend to other areas where we hit the pause button. In my conversations with people who fast, I am often met with situations where people choose something “easy” such as chocolate and fasting becomes more about a type of diet to feel accomplished and better about yourself. I have also witnessed the “no meat” rule on Fridays where people go out and feast upon deep fried fish dishes and believe some kind of spiritual point was earned with God. Yes, these people do exist. How do the Scriptures speak about fasting and what might this mean for us today?

The main concern about fasting in the Bible is not so much about the kind of fasting to perform or how often or anything outwardly. The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. In the Old Testament, fasting was a physical way to express the mourning of our internal sinful condition, the reality of living in a broken world with various injustices, and expressing the sorrow of death itself. This would also involve throwing ashes upon yourself. This should all probably sound very familiar.

Fasting is also very common among the ministry and word of the prophets. When Jonah announced Nineveh’s coming demise, the people believed God and called for a fast. This wasn’t to somehow appease God, but to reveal their repentance to God in some physical way. But again, what was practiced and expressed physically was meant to communicate the internal. Jesus knew these things all too well. He saw through the religiosity of the Pharisees and other religious leaders who were more concerned about how they appeared. This is why the Gospel lesson for Ash Wednesday is always Jesus’ teaching on praying, fasting, and giving to be done in secret where your heavenly Father sees all. I find myself more intentional with my fast when I keep the actual practice private. This doesn’t mean everything needs to be hush, hush. It simply means we don’t need to flaunt our piety to make sure people know that we are really keeping a holy Lent.

Fasting food was most common because you could physically feel your hunger where your body could sense what you are trying to express in your devotion to God. The hunger pains expressed a deeper pain. For Jesus, His hunger was not for Himself. It was for the sinful pain cut through all of humanity. His fasting was intimately connected to His overcoming of the devil. As His body was worn with hunger and endured temptation, His body would also be torn apart and endure the sins of the whole world in the cross. For us He fasted and for us He prayed. How might we approach fasting today?

Since fasting is connected to repentance and the wider mourning of the human experience, I recommend choosing something that demands from you. Food demands us when our stomach grumbles. Our phones demand us when we feel bored or need some kind of stimulation. Our TV demands us when we just want to forget about the world. None of these things are wrong by the way. But to fast them is to release their grip of demand, and rather turn your desires toward the LORD. Lent is our opportunity to say, “no” more often. Yet in saying “no” we will also be saying “yes” to other things. Those “other things” may be God getting your attention and seeking you out. As you fast, observe what the LORD may be opening up for you to see. Remain calm, and fast on.

Fr. Joe

If you would like to support St. John's during this time, you can give online by clicking the button below. You may also send a check to the following address:

PO BOX 36591, CANTON OH 44735

    Did God Really Say? by Fr. Joe

    A message from the series "Sermons from Lectionary Texts." On our first Sunday in Lent we heard the same old tricks from that serpent, the devil. He won over the first Adan, but for the first time, he was thwarted and overcome by our second Adam (Jesus). His victory has become our victory. Come and hear the trustworthy Word of God.

    Read more
    Join us every first and third (usually) Thursday night for our Eagle and Child reading group! This is a group that meets to discuss and apply classic works in Christian theology from the likes of Lewis, Augustine, Bonhoeffer, and other important authors. We are currently reading Chesterton's The Everlasting Man and discussing his interesting case for the uniqueness of humans, and in particular, Jesus Christ.
    Cana Vox is a discussion group that meets every other Friday where those, married or unmarried, who support a classical understanding of marriage can explore the controversial issues in a calm, deliberative setting that is not subject to the hostilities often found in today's public discourse on the topic. We seek to discuss thoughtful and gospel-oriented responses to the confusion surrounding marriage in our culture.

    Wednesday Choristers/Bible Study/Evening Prayer

    Join us every Wednesday where our children are invited to learn to sing unto the LORD and adults gathered to discuss the faith once delivered to the saints. Our focus throughout the season of Lent will be reading John Donne in Lent. Specifically, we will discuss his holy sonnets which cover the breadth and beauty of the LORD’s presence at work in the human experience. If you would like a book, please let me know. Also, every purchase of the book gives a portion of the proceeds to the Anglican Development and Relief Fund for the ACNA. Finally, the evening culminates with a time of Evening Prayer together. Everything begins at 6:30pm and we hope to see you!

    Breeze Online Giving and Giving to Chad’s Curacy

    Thank you to all who give to St. John’s Anglican Church. We are so grateful for your support to continue the mission of the Church. As an update to online giving through Breeze, you may or may not know that they charge a processing fee whenever you give online. It is a small percentage of your gift. However, there is an option for you to cover the processing fee in your giving if you so choose. This allows St. John’s to keep 100% of what you give online. You should be able to see the option when you choose to give on the website or on Breeze. Also, there is an option on our website to give to Chad’s Curacy. Simply click donate and you should see the option. Thank you again for your generosity!

    Midday Prayer at Malone

    All are welcome to Midday Prayer on Malone’s campus at 11am. We will meet in the cafeteria for lunch and prayers. We are typically done within the hour.

    Lent Catechesis

    For all ages every Sunday at 9am (sharp)

    Our Lenten discipline for catechesis will begin with Morning Prayer with both adults and youth together. Afterwards, our youth will continue their catechesis upstairs and adults in their conversations. The focus for both is entitled “The Dusty Narratives of Genesis: Our Dust and God’s Mercy Revealed.”

    Our children continue Gospel Play focusing on the season of Lent and biblical texts related to the heart of the season.

    A Note about Fasting & Prayer during Lent (from Daniel Semelsberger)

    As a reminder: all who wish to do so are invited to join in a time of fasting and prayer on Wednesdays during Lent (beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 22nd), with a special emphasis on praying for the life and mission of our parish.

    Most of us will be fasting breakfast and lunch, but all are welcome to participate as they are led and able. You are also very welcome to participate anonymously. My assumption is that most, if not all of us have been routinely engaged in prayer for St. John's and its people. The purpose of this endeavor is simply for us to gather in spirit as a local church, knowing that we have intentionally set aside time to pray alongside one another.

    For those that wish, I will be offering reminders and brief encouragements via email each Wednesday morning during Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday. If you'd like to receive those emails--or if you have specific prayers or petitions that you'd like me to share in those emails--please let me know at dbsemels@gmail.com.


    If you or your children would like to be baptized, please contact Fr. Joe to receive pre-baptismal catechesis. Our next date for baptisms will be the Easter Vigil on April 8th. Lent is a significant time to prepare for the sacrament. Please let us know if you have any interest.

    How Can I Serve at St. John's?

    There are plenty of ways to serve at St. John’s and we would love for you to join in on what God is doing in the church. Below you can see all the different ways to serve. No special skills required, simply a willingness to learn and grow in service.

    Acolyte Ministry – Carrying the cross, assisting at the table, and learning more about the Anglican Way.
    Altar Guild – Preparing the Lord’s Table for Holy Communion before the service and developing a sense of holiness in worship.
    Readers – Approaching God’s Word with boldness and declaring it to the people.
    Hospitality – Providing food, setting up and cleaning up the area, and making space for all people to feel welcome and belong. We also hold special events throughout the Church calendar preparing feasts together.
    Gospel Play – Experience catechesis with our children with interactive materials enhancing biblical narratives within the liturgical calendar. It is a lot of fun!
    Ushers/Greeters – Welcome people as they come to church, especially newcomers, handing out bulletins, and passing the plates for the offering.
    Music – We would love to expand our music ministry with your various gifts. Do you play an instrument? Are you a gifted singer? Come join the team!

    We hope to develop these ministries with more lay leadership. In the meantime you can contact Fr. Joe, Dcn. Chad, or Maggie if you interested in participating or even taking leadership in these various ministries.

    The Daily Office

    Interested in a simple way to pray the daily office from the Book of Common Prayer? Follow this link for text and audio versions of the morning, noon, and evening prayer services taken directly from the 2019 ACNA BCP.

    Contact Fr. Joe

    I am here for you. If you would like to grab some coffee or other beverages, or would like a home visit, please don’t hesitate to contact me at: frjoe@stjohnscanton.org

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