Weekly Dispatch, March 8th, 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 16th, 7:00pm at the Semelsberger's

A Message from Fr. Joe

Dear Friends in Christ,

We continue to reflect upon our Lenten spiritual practices. Last week, we reflected on fasting, it’s revelation in Scripture, its benefits, and how we might practice it. Today, our focus will be on prayer.

One of the biggest misconceptions on prayer is the vending machine effect. It is to treat pray as some form of currency that when we put in the right amount of prayer into an area of our lives, we have an expectation of what we should receive from God. If we do not receive exactly what we are expecting, then we find ourselves in two categories; I didn’t pray enough, or God is unfair.

The whole problem with this mentality of prayer is that it places you in the center of everything. It is about your expectations and perhaps your false sense of control over God. It also assumes that you know what’s best for yourself. This is why I love the prayer of St. John Chrysostom; “Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us.” This doesn’t mean we refrain from praying our desires and petitions, but it is to entrust them into the hands of Almighty God.

One of the fruits we experience when we pray is a deepening trust with God. We are communing with Him. We are talking to Him, and believing He actually hears us. As the prophet reveals, “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear” (Isaiah 59:1). Jesus exhorts us to pray continually that we can ask, and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. However, what will be given, what we will find, and what will be opened to us is always God’s good will for us. It is usually not what we expect. Sometimes we do not like what is opened to us at first. We wonder if God really heard us. Yet when we receive His gracious will for us, we will realize, over time in our prayers, that God truly not only knows what’s best for us, but He actually desires what’s best for us. We are trusting in His revealed will for us.

This is especially true in painful situations that we do not understand. For instance, there are no clean-cut answers why God responds to certain healings and why He does not. We can create all sorts of theories, but at the end of the day when we do not see God answering our desperate prayers, we are to look upon the cross. Jesus knows what it is like to experience the silence of the Father, yet it is through His silence that He brings resurrection. No matter how many times Jesus told His disciples that He would be raised from the dead, the disciples were still baffled three days after His death from the empty tomb.

In every prayer we feel is unanswered or a door opened that looks more suspicious than good, look upon the revealed will of God in the cross and resurrection. God in the flesh bears the same pain that you bear, and the promise for you and even your distressed prayers is that He will raise you up on the last day. I highly encourage you to pick up a Prayer Book and practice the Daily Office. You can choose from Morning, Midday, Evening, or Compline. All of time belongs to the LORD. But I especially encourage you to pray through the Psalms. In your prayers, you will not find strange, but comforting bedfellows with the Psalter. When I find myself hardened towards prayer, the two prayers I pray for the Spirit to either calm or melt my heart down is either the Lord’s Prayer or simply, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.”

Remember, the LORD hears you no matter what you say to Him, and if He can bear the sins of the whole world, He can bear your words. Talk to Him as if He is standing in the room with you. He knows all that burdens you, gives you joy and thanks, and even the things that keep you up at night. Speak every word to Him. He loves to hear from you, and He loves revealing Himself to you in all stations of life. Let us pray to the Lord; Lord, hear our prayer.

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

    God Justifies the Ungodly by Fr. Joe

    A message from the series "Sermons from Lectionary Texts." In his teaching and preaching, St. Paul is without question the “grace guy.” His emphasis on the power of God’s grace is more evident in his letter to the Romans, and this week we heard the scandalous news that God doesn’t justify the righteous or the godly, but the ungodly. His grace is not only undeserving, but unfitting and this news isn’t new but even goes back to Abraham. Hear it again for you.

    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 and classical literature 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 where those who support a classical understanding of marriage can explore the controversial issues in a calm, deliberative setting that is not subject to the hostilities found in today's public discourse on the topic. We seek to discuss thoughtful responses to the confusion surrounding marriage in our culture. We are not meeting currently, but if you have interest, contact Dcn. Chad about starting up another session.

    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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