Notes from Patmos…Hot off the press!

Blessings and grace to one and all one this first day of Lent… on this Ash Wednesday.  Thanks to all who made last night a memorable and fun evening, and cheers to Jr. Warden Rand McLaughlin for taking home the Warden’s cup.
We have two services today to aide the faithful in making a good start to Lent- 12:05pm, and 6:00pm.  I hope you will try and make one of the services and get your Lent off to a proper and fitting start.  Please know of my prayers for this parish family as we begin our journey towards the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Our Lord.  May God bless you all.

Lent at St. John’s
Our Lenten journey begins on Wednesday, March 1st-commonly called Ash Wednesday.  This is a day of fasting and penance within the calendar of the Church.  We will have two opportunities for you to join us and offer prayers to God, receive ashes (the outward sign of our repentance and fasting) and communion on this somber day.  The first liturgy will be at 12:05pm and will last about 45 minutes.  The second service will be at 6:00pm, employing the choir and a nursery will be provided at both services.

During Lent
During the season of Lent, we will have numerous opportunities for worship and devotion.  In addition to our regular Sunday Liturgies we will have:
•    Daily Morning Prayer (Matins) at 8:10am in the Chapel (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday) starting on Thursday, March 2nd.  Since the earliest days of the Church, Christians have continually prayed the Divine Office, in which the services of Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline are said throughout the day as a means of sanctifying time to God and obeying the command to “Pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17).  We gather every weekday morning to take part in this ancient and universal ritual.  The service lasts about 15 minutes and includes prayers, scripture readings, and spoken hymns from the ancient Church.  There is also time to offer private, personal prayers and thanksgivings to start your day off in a holy manner.
•    On Wednesday nights at 5:30pm we will gather for Evensong with brief homily, followed at 6:15pm by a soup and salad dinner and opportunity for fellowship.     (Nursery provided).
•    On Sunday evenings in Lent we will offer Stations of the Cross at 5:00pm followed immediately by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
Introduction to Stations of the Cross
At  least as early as the fourth century, pilgrims to the Holy Land were conducted to the sites of various biblical events, especially events in the life of Jesus, and it was customary for readings and prayers appropriate to the place and the event to be offered. The official recognition of Christianity by the Emperor Constantine made public worship at these sites possible. We do not know when the devotion of Stations of the Cross began, but there can be no doubt that its roots are to be found in the flowering of commemorations associated with specific places in the life of  Jesus.
Furthermore, we know that pilgrims who were fortunate enough to visit the Holy Land, were anxious to keep alive the spirit of their pilgrimage after they returned home. Replicas of the Way of the Cross in Europe are first recorded in the fifteenth century.
Introduction to Benediction: 
Benediction is a beautiful word. It means a blessing, a greeting, an expression of kindness and love. Benediction is also a beautiful service of the church. It is a service that makes real to us in an impressive way the fact that God is always reaching out to us, to bless, to strengthen, to assure us of his loving kindness toward us.  The greatest blessing that God ever bestowed or could bestow upon mankind was the sending of his Son.  He is no longer present in the physical body that was his in Palestine many centuries ago, but we believe that he is really present among us in the Sacrament which he appointed. “This is my body,” he said over the bread at his Last Supper with his disciples. The same words are said over the bread at every Eucharist, that it may be to us the body of the Lord, so that he may come again among us today as he came at his first appearing in Palestine.   In the service of Benediction, we adore the presence of Jesus with us in the Sacrament, through prayer, praises and hymns and through adoration.

Lenten Devotions & Practices

1. Fasting – The weekdays of Lent are fast days, meaning that the amount of food is reduced. A good (if modern) rule is no snacks, no seconds, no desserts, and no alcohol. If you don’t normally eat snacks or drink, you may consider giving up some favorite food. The idea is to undertake something sacrificial, yet not overwhelming. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are strict fast days: one full meal in the evening, a very light one in the afternoon and generally nothing before 3pm. Those who are ill, elderly, pregnant or nursing are excused from this discipline. (Page 17, 1979 B.C.P.)
2. Abstinence – Abstaining from flesh meat on Fridays (as required by the Prayer Book) is a common discipline for Lent. The Ancient custom is to abstain from flesh meat on Wednesdays as well as Fridays. Flesh meat includes all meat except fish. Going vegetarian these days is also an option. (Page 17, 1979 B.C.P.)
3. Holy Communion – Lent is a good time to add an additional service to your usual Sunday attendance.
4. Daily Office – If you do not now read Morning and/or Evening Prayer from the Prayer Book, Lent is a good time to begin doing so. If you can attended the morning office in the chapel at the parish, that would be ideal, but if not many people certainly pray this alone or with their families.  It takes some effort and discipline to get the habit established, but once accomplished, it can bear great fruit in your spiritual life. Each Office takes 10-15 minutes a day. Fr. Jeff is available for help in the mechanics of the rubrics and lectionary.  There are also many websites that can help you with this- just google “The Daily Office”
5. Spiritual Reading – An ancient custom is to take a spiritual book for regular reading during Lent. This can be a book on the Scriptures, or one of the spiritual classics. Many are available in the parish library or you may see Fr. Jeff for suggestions.
6. Confession – A sacramental confession, in private to a priest, is not only an opportunity for a thorough self-examination, but also a powerful weapon against the temptations which come our way in Lent. Fr. Jeff is available for this sacrament, as are other priests in the area. Although the Anglican Church does not require Sacramental Confession, it is recommended, and helpful.
7. Self-Denial – You may want to give up some special pleasure or recreation for Lent (tobacco, sweets, television, the evening ‘toddy’), and perhaps give what you would have spent on it to charity. This can be done in conjunction with other practices: if, for example, you give up an hour of TV every day, you might use it to read Evening Prayer and some Scripture.
8. Service – As well as “giving up” something in Lent, some wish to “take on” some special service, such as visiting a shut-in parishioner, volunteering at the hospital or a  nursing home, running errands for an elderly neighbor, or some special project at the church.
9. Scripture Reading – Delving into the Word of God is never out of season. Lent is a good time to establish (or re-establish) the discipline of a daily time of Scripture reading.
10. Educational Opportunities- Take the opportunity in Lent to join the Adult Education Class on Sundays at 9:30am.
11. Corporate Special Devotions – There are numerous opportunities for your spiritual growth throughout Lent. In addition to the Sunday morning Liturgies, on Sunday’s at 5:00pm the parish will gather at the Church for Stations of the Cross and Benediction.  And on Wednesday nights, we will gather for Evensong at 5:30pm followed by a soup supper.
12. Evangelism – Lent is a good time to renew ones commitment to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with friends and neighbors, and to invite them to worship with us here at Saint John’s, Laurel.

Empty Bowls
Tuesday, March 21st
11:00am – 2:00pm
St. John’s Episcopal Church

Empty Bowls is an international grass roots effort to fight hunger created by The Imagine Render Group. The basic premise is simple: Potters and other crafts people, educators and others work with the community to create handcrafted bowls. Guests are invited to a simple meal of soup. In exchange for a cash donation, guests are asked to keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. The money raised is donated to an organization working to end hunger and food insecurity. Events have now taken place across the United States and in at least a dozen other countries. Many millions of dollars have been raised and donated to hunger-fighting organizations.The largest hunger-relief organization in the United States, Feeding America, reports that the nation’s food banks could soon be overwhelmed by demand. Statistics show that 1 out of 8 Americans struggle with food insecurity every day. Your help is needed now more than ever. Please find the time, make the commitment, get involved. Your single effort can have a profound impact.
Plans are in full swing for our fund raiser to feed the hungry from St. John’s Episcopal Church.   Local artists have donated 600 hand thrown, high fired bowls for the 2017 event.  All proceeds go to support the Good Samaritan Soup Kitchen and St. John’s Episcopal Church Outreach Ministries.  Our project depends on the support of our entire community.  Tell your friends and join us March 21st to help us fight hunger in our community.  Tickets are $15 and AVAILABLE NOW!  Call the parish office to purchase yours or contact Celeste Vial.

2017 Flower chart 

The Altar Flower Chart for 2017 is on the board  in the Sacristy hallway and we need the faithful to sign up to take a Sunday in memory or thanksgiving of someone or an event.  If you are unable to come to the parish to sign up, you are more than welcome to call the parish office with a date you would like and we will try our best to accommodate you.  When a person takes a Sunday, they contact the parish to make known their thanksgiving/memorial wording for the Sunday bulletin. Mr. Randy Jackson of Flowertyme is a communicant, but you may choose which florist you would like to deal with, or you can make the arrangement yourself and place them in the sanctuary.

An Easy Way to Help St. John’s Day School

Start clipping BOX TOPS for Education!  Hundreds of products participate in the program, and you probably already have several in your pantry, freezer and refrigerator.  For every Box Top you clip, St. John’s Day School will receive 10 cents!!!  That may not sound like a lot, but it adds up quickly. There are no limitations on the money’s use, so St. John’s can spend it as needed.
Grab your scissors and keep an eye out for the Box Tops for Education logo on the products you use every day.  Once you have finished the product, clip the Box Top before you throw it away.  Be sure to look over the whole box.  Simply send the Box Top to the parish office, there is a container labeled for your Box Tops on the table in the hallway.

Upcoming at St. John’s
Ash Wednesday
March 1st  at 12:05pm – Mass
6:00pm – Mass
Empty Bowls
Tuesday, March 21st 11:00 – 2:00 pm

Spring Youth Events
Hosted by the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi
Jr. High DOY Retreat
6-8th grades at Camp Bratton-Green
March 3-5
Sr. High DOY Retreat
9th – 12th grades at Camp Bratton-Green
March 24-26
Happening #85
10th – 12th grades at Nativity, Greenwood
March 10-12
Happening Reunion
St. Stephen’s, Indianola
March 10-12
Register for all events at

Connecting Ministry

We here at Saint John’s love reaching out to others and letting them know that they are loved by God, held in prayer and remembered.  Our Pastoral Care Committee, E.Y.C. and Daughters of the King society would love to write notes of encouragement, send small care packages and simply let others know that they are prayed for and remembered.  If you have a loved one who is shut-in, a college student or in the military, follow this link to fill out the form and let us stay in touch with them!  The form is here:

A Tip O’ The Biretta
  • To George and Becky Jackson for the delicious pancakes for our Shrove Tuesday Pancake dinner.
  • To Elaine Ethridge for her help for our pancake dinner.
  • To Duane Mitchell for his sausage cooking skills for Shrove Tuesday.
  • To EVERYONE who helped decorate the parish hall for Shrove Tuesday.  It has never looked more festive!!
  • To Jennifer Myrick for emceeing our Pancake race.
  • To Pete Hayes for burning the palms for our Ash Wednesday services.
For the Year Actual Budget Over/Under
Pledges $ 46,733 $54,833 $ 8,100 (85%)
Plate $ 7,326 $ 9,006 $  1,680 (81%)
Other $7,164 $ 12,968 $ 5,804(55%)
Total $ 61,223 $76,807 $ 15,584(80%)
Expenses $ 72,233 $ 75,850 $ 3,617(95%)
BUDGET TOTALS $ 11,010 $ 957 $ 11,967 (1,150%)
O God, our heavenly Father, make the door of this Church wide enough that all who need human love and fellowship and a Fathers care may find it, and narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride and uncharitableness.  Here may the tempted find help, and the sorrowing receive comfort.  Here may the careless be awakened to repentance, and the penitent be assured of your mercy.  And here may all your children renew their strength in You, and go on their way rejoicing.  Through Jesus Christ Our Lord.  Amen.
Saint Johns Episcopal Church
541 North 5th Ave./ P.O. Box 1766
Laurel, MS 39441
601.428.7252 Office
601.422.7388 Mobile
Copyright © 2017 Saint John’s Episcopal Church, All rights reserved.