Weekly Dispatch, March 15th, 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
  • Monthly Potluck – Sunday, March 26th after church
  • Eagle and Child – Thursday, March 30th, 7:00pm at Dan McWilliams'
  • Palm Sunday – Sunday, April 2nd, 10:30am at Church
  • Holy Week Simple Eucharist – April 3rd, 4th, and 5th at 12:00-12:30pm at Church
  • Maundy Thursday – Thursday, April 6th at 6:30pm at Church
  • Good Friday Services – Friday, April 7th at 12:00pm (Dying Words of Jesus) and 6:30pm
  • Easter Vigil with Baptisms – Saturday, April 8th at 8:00pm

A Message from the Curate

Dear Friends in Christ,

As you many of you know and have experienced, one of the ways the church marks out its many seasons and special holy days is with different colors. On our highest feasts of Christmas and Easter, the sanctuary dons the color white in celebration. On many feast days and on the day of Pentecost we see red vestments which symbolize both the blood of the martyrs of the church, and also the flame of the Spirit which burned so brightly in the lives of the saints and on the day of Pentecost in tongues of fire. The logic of these as well as the other liturgical colors has always made good sense, but the color purple in Lent has always been something of an oddity to me.

If you pay close attention to your Bibles you will notice that the color purple is often used to remind us of royalty and affluence given its difficulty to produce and therefore its rarity in those days. Remember the ornate decorations in the tabernacle, as well as the priestly garb of Aaron and the other temple priests, all of which were shot through with opulent purple fabrics. Or remember Daniel who was robed in royal purple after interpreting the writing on the wall for king Nebuchadnezzar. Remember also the rich man in the book of Luke, who was “clothed in purple and fine linen.” Examples abound of this “royal” purple in Scripture. Why, then, do we take up this lenten purple to symbolize a season that appears to be anything but regal?

As with most of the ways in which the world operates, Christ flips this concept of royalty and riches on its head. Recall this passage in Mark’s gospel:

“And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and began to salute Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.” (Mark 15:17-20)

In his crucifixion, these purple garments became a mockery of his Lordship. “King of the Jews” he was hailed, and crowned with a crown of thorns. In these purple garments Christ was beaten, spit on, and mocked — not exactly royal treatment. Quite the opposite, in fact. Christ, in this way, was brought low and his poverty was put on display as every last bit of worldly dignity was stripped away along with the very clothes off of his back.

The color purple in Lent, then, reminds us of the depths poverty that Christ experienced for us. While this rare and regal garment may seem out of place in reminding us of Christ’s poverty, this is actually where the reality of Christ’s kingdom breaks through our tendency to carelessly acquiesce to the ways of the world. The counterintuitive point here is that the royalty of Christ is revealed in the very fact that he became poor. His power to overcome the darkness of this world came not through violent resistance, not through a well-funded effort to make war against the Romans, or in other words, not by the typical worldly means. Rather, Christ made war with the kingdom of darkness through his self-giving, not in spite of it.

This theme of the poverty of Christ the King in Lent, then, is meant to turn our hearts towards the poor among us. This practice associated with this has been traditionally named almsgiving, meaning very simply, to give of our own treasure to the poor and to those in need. While we put off practices of, perhaps, eating certain foods or cutting down on our use of social media, it is crucial that we remember to put on practices in this season as well. Alongside prayer, almsgiving is one of the most sensible practices we can put on.

Like all other lenten practices, almsgiving does not and should not come from a place of guilt or compulsion; remember, “God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7) Likewise, Christ submitted his life fully to the will of the Father as he headed to the cross to give his life as a ransom for many. Rather, almsgiving pours out of an abundance gratitude and a deep desire to conform our lives to the way of the kingdom of God proclaimed both in Christ’s death and resurrection. And Christ promises that he will be known in this practice, as he himself experienced poverty for our sake, but also as he reminds us in Matthew’s gospel “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matt. 25:40) When we engage in the practice of almsgiving in Lent, we don’t simply meet the needs of the poor, we learn what it means to participate in the kingdom of God, a kingdom in which the last will be first and the first will be last.

What, then, do we do with this? Where does the reality lying behind this royal and yet dark purple orient us in this season of Lent? While there are certainly many answers to this question, one simple answer for us to consider this week is that it bids us to remember the poor; not only to pray for them, but to actively seek their physical wellbeing — to give alms, to clothe them, to feed them, to provide for their shelter, and ultimately to bring them the good news of God’s kingdom that they might be filled with the riches of Christ. It is something of a spiritual axiom that in the measure you give yourself away to Christ, you will find that you receive even more than you ever gave up. Perhaps, then, if we learn to give of ourselves and our bounty to help the poor among us, they might just have the the riches of Christ to share with us in return, for the riches of the kingdom lie not in the wealth of the world, but in the love and mercy of Christ.

God's peace until we meet again!

Dcn. Chad

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

    Reflections on Romans by Dcn.David

    A message from the series "Sermons from Lectionary Texts." Augustine, Nietzsche…and Narwhals? Yep, you heard me right. Hear our own Deacon David Beer preach on his reflections in our Romans text. I guarantee you will learn something new.

    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.

    March Monthly Potluck

    Join us for our monthly potluck on March 26th after church. We will celebrate the birthdays of March and enjoy fellowship with one another. There will be a sign-up sheet emailed out to let us know what you plan on bringing, or you can connect with Elizabeth Beer or Megan Tennant.

    Holy Week Offerings

    Holy Week is coming upon us! It is certainly the most significant week of the whole year, and I encourage you to participate as much as you are able. Please consider the following services:
    • Palm Sunday (April 2nd): We will gather our bulletins and palms to begin outside (rain or shine), then process our way into the church reenacting Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem. As we enter into the worship space, our reenactment continues with the dramatic reading of the Passion of our Lord.
    • Simple Holy Week Eucharist (April 3rd, 4th, 5th): Please consider fasting your lunch these days and join us for a very brief and simple Eucharist the next three days of Holy Week. They will begin at 12:00pm and wraps up within half an hour.
    • Maundy Thursday (April 6th): A moving service focusing upon the last hours between Jesus and His disciples before His arrest and crucifixion. We will experience the Stripping of the Altar signifying Jesus being arrested, stripped and beaten, and sent away to be crucified.
    • Good Friday (April 7th): We are offering two services on Good Friday, and each are unique. The first will be Reflections on the Dying Words of Jesus at 12:00pm. This hour-long service will include prayers, silence, and reflections from various parishioners of St. John’s. Our second service will be our classic Prayer Book Good Friday service at 6:30pm.
    • The Great Easter Vigil (April 8th): One of the most significant services of the whole Church calendar. We begin in darkness where we hear the mighty works of God throughout Holy Scripture, bring those seeking baptism to the fount, and usher light into darkness with our first alleluias! It will be a grand service starting at 8:00pm.

    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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