2011 Honduras Medical Mission Update

Thanks be to God for the work of the 2011 Honduras Medical Mission~
We want to first thank everyone for their prayers last week while we were out of the country. Secondly, we want to report the work completed by our team. The team suffered from a few things out of our control: we went through two buses before our third one that actually worked, causing us not to be able to go out to the other villages and pick up folks for two and a half days; we also had rain from Saturday through Wednesday which inhibited many “walk-ins” from nearby villages; lastly, we had power outages on two days for extended periods of time, one for twenty-four hours, that limited our ability to provide dental sealant machines and miscellaneous medical equipment. Even through all this, we preserved and served the wonderful village people. Our detailed report follows~
MEDICAL CLINIC –1661 patients, 39 procedures, 36 diabetic counselings and 9 glucometer readings.
PHARMACY — 1776 patients, 8402 prescriptions filled.
DENTAL CLINIC — 367 patients, 1016 teeth extracted
SEALANT CLINIC — 367 patients, 1474 teeth sealed
VETERINARY CLINIC — 518 horses, 628 cows, 154 dogs and 6 “other” animals…I know one was some sort of large pet rodent, like FIFTEEN pounds large.
EYE CLINIC — 400 patients, 473 pair of glasses disbursed.
CLERGY REPORT — 2 Eucharist, 7 services, 2 Baptisms, and 1 Marriage Blessing. SUPPORT REPORT– 4 buildings re-wired, 4 showers repaired, 1 toilet plumbed, 4 bunk beds erected, 1 new freezer, New Vet Clinic established with temporary power and water.
Again, thank you for their prayers, we felt every one. Jane Hayes and George Jackson

Sermon on the Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany MMXI

“Say to all the congregation of the people of Israel, You shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy.”

This morning, beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ, we hear two very difficult lessons on what it is to be holy…on what it is to be Christ-like.

In the Book of Leviticus, the Lord God Almighty is speaking to Moses, and giving him words and instructions to preach to the people of Israel.

The Lord God is calling His people to holiness. “You shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy.”

And, so the Israelites will understand what it means to be holy…what it means to be like God…instructions are given.

{It is always important to give instructions in holiness…you never know who might declare golf to be the highest form of sanctity.}

The instructions the Lord God gives to Israelites are perhaps not what one would have in mind when trying to become holy.

Perhaps one would first think that he should work very hard on interior things…give much contemplation to the spiritual life.

And to aide in this contemplation of the spiritual life…perhaps one would think it necessary to withdraw from others who are not contemplating all things holy.

In a twist of Divine irony…this however is not the instructions that are given to the people of Israel to help them in leading a life patterned in the likeness of God.

In fact, very little attention at all is given to the interior life…very little attention at all is given to the self. Almost all of the attention and instruction dealing with becoming holy is spent on how we treat others…how we deal with others…how we interact with others…that we must interact with others.

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field to its very border, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.

The Israelites are instructed to take care of the poorest among them…are instructed to grow grain and labor to the end that the stranger and sojourner will have food. They are called to labor and give for the least among them.

“You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning. You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.

They are to be honest with God, with themselves and be courteous, kind, and generous to others.

To the point- they are to see God’s image in others…and treat them as they would treat God Himself. ‘You shall fear your God’…if they mistreat another human being, they mistreat God and fall short of the holiness to which they are called.

In the Gospel for this morning, Our Lord Jesus Christ takes this idea further. In fact, Jesus radicalizes this idea of holiness.

While, in the record of the Old Testament, there were provisions for human justice…such as courts of law, self-defense, and the ability to separate ones self from those who seek to do harm…there is not with Jesus.

Our Lord calls us to perfection: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

We are called to perfection. Jesus calls His followers to the ultimate extreme of God-like behavior.

“But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.”

In this words, we see something of the mercy of God. We see something of the love of God…we see something of the compassion and forgiveness of God.

We are called not only to holiness…but to perfection. We are called to employ the exact and equal mercy, love and forgiveness to others that God employs with us.

God’s love, mercy and forgiveness for us is endless and without bottom. No matter how many times we forsake Him…no matter how many times we steal from Him…seek to hurt or wrong Him…He forgives and loves.

If we ask for his coat, as it were, He gives us His cloak as well.

What God the Father gives freely, Jesus, the Son of God asks of those who follow Him.

And this, my brothers and sisters, is a difficult thing…it is a scary thing…we are called to treat others in the same way we are treated by God Almighty.

A complete and total sacrifice of self…a complete outpouring of love…a complete showing of mercy…and a complete forgiveness for offenses.

The calling of Our Lord Jesus Christ is a high holy calling…it is a calling to become like God…

This morning beloved, we will baptize Owen Nail into Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

Owen will be offered to God, go down into the waters, die with Christ and be raised to new life, Owen will become a new creation, Owen will be saved and join the eternal society of Jesus Christ.
And with all of these things, Owen will be called, as we are all called, to perfection. Owen will be called to live into the full stature of Christ.

We, too, vow to do all in our power, both by our prayers and our witness, to help young Owen live into this stature.

Which of course means, that we will continue to work towards this highest of callings. It means that we ourselves vow to continue to work towards perfection in Jesus Christ.

My brother and sisters, when we contemplate changing and amending our lives…when we try to become better people…when we seek to become better Christians…we must first and foremost look outside ourselves.

We must look at what we give to God in worship.

We must look at what we give to God in our time and talent.

We must look at how we treat and interact with others.

We must constantly ask ourselves are we treating others as God treats us? Do we see the image and likeness of God in others?

Do we show to others the same love, mercy and forgiveness that God shows to us?

On this day Owen nail is called to holiness…is called to perfection…on this day we are reminded of our own call to perfection.

Let us then vow anew that we will strive to be perfect…and that we will strive to help one another obtain this perfection by our prayers and by our witness.

Let us be holy…for the Lord our God is Holy…

Let us therefore be perfect…as our heavenly father is perfect.

First Communion Classes

First Communion Classes
for children during Lent

In the last years, there has been a good bit of confusion over when a child should start taking communion. Up until the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, a person was not allowed to receive Holy Communion until they were confirmed. With the advent of the ‘new’ prayerbook, that rule was revoked on the grounds that the only two essential (Dominical) sacraments are Baptism and Eucharist- and if a person had to be confirmed to receive Holy Communion, then Confirmation was thereby also essential.

Now-a-days, there are a variety of practices with regard to children and the reception of Holy Communion. Some parents still have their children wait until Confirmation, and other parents allow thier children to receive as soon as they express a desire, and other don’t really know what to do. So, to try and help with that and to insure our children are properly educated, the parish is offering to take the children through a process known as “First Communion” classes so the child will know what they are doing.

St. John’s is going to offer these classes on Wednesday night’s during Lent, from 5:30-6:00pm (during the Stations of the Cross and before dinner).

There is no particular age requirement (generally 5-7 is considered the age a child obtains the ability to reason) but the child should:

* be of an intellect to commit ‘personal sin’- to know right from wrong and willing do so along with the consequences and have the ability to reflect on actions.
* have a desire to receive Holy Communion
* have parents willing to discuss Communion with them
* be ready to more deeply explore the Christian faith and practice.

Regardless of family practice, it is extremely important children learn what is required of them for the proper reception of Holy Communion and the worship of Our Lord in general.

If you have a child you would like to enroll in these classes, please fill out this form, and if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Fr. Jeff.

Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner
Tuesday Evening, March 8th
Donations accepted at the door.

Join us for our annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner benefiting the E.Y.C.’s fundraising efforts for their summer mission trip to the Ozark mountains to build and repair housing for the elderly and poor.

The dinner is a tremendous amount of fun. The youth put the entire evening together, preparing for the event, cooking the pancakes, and serving the faithful.

This year the fun will include:
• At 5:30, the great Pancake race, with a trophy and prizes.*
• Several different kinds of yummy Pancakes
• Live entertainment from our youth group (I have heard Justin Bieber will show up!)
• Great fellowship and fun as the parish makes her last hurrah! Before Great & Holy Lent begins
• The burning of the Palms afterwards**

*There is a very old English costume of having a pancake race on Shrove Tuesday stemming from a certain legend. It is said that an unknown women, who was cooking pancakes, upon hearing the parish bells calling her to confession, ran out the door of her home and to the parish wearing her apron and carrying her pan, complete with cooking pancake. The villagers found such entertainment in this sight, that it fast became a tradition. If you would like to race, be sure to bring your apron and pan!

**It is the custom of the Church to burn the Palms from the previous Palm Sunday on this day to make ashes for use on Ash Wednesday. You are invited to bring your palms from home to burn for use on Ash Wednesday.

Sermon- Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany Year A

Most of us here…and especially those of us who have been a part of the parish family for many years, love to hear the pitter-patter of little feet in our halls and in this nave.

Most of us love to hear the laughter of little voices bringing life and vibrancy to this parish.

There are few sights as wonderful as a large group of little children making their way into the Nave as we pass the peace…there are few sounds as pleasing as when our children’s choir sings praises to their Lord and God.

Children are a blessing to this parish…a blessing indeed. They are a sign of growth and life and health…a sign that we are indeed alive.

But, my bothers and sisters in Jesus Christ…with every new pitter-patter…with every new laugh…with every new sweet song offered…we take on responsibility.

With every new child that walks through this parish door, we collectively take a weight on our shoulders.

One of the greatest responsibilities of the parish family is to instruct her members. And none stand in greater need of instruction and formation than the children.

It is our responsibility to see that every child that is a part of our parish family is instructed in the ways and the things of God.

The conscience does not exist ready formed…it must be formed. And it is our job to see that the conscience is formed in a godly manner- in a manner of faith and hope and love.

It is our responsibility to make sure they know the stories of the Bible…that they know the stories of Jesus Christ and the apostles…

It is our responsibility that they know the liturgies and the seasons and the feasts and fasts of the Christian faith. It is ours to make sure the rhythms and prayers of the Church become a part of their being.

It is ours to make sure the children have a deep and meaningful immersion in the Christian faith and practice.

Its is ours to make sure the children have the tools and the foundation to make good and godly choices as they grow and mature.

It is ours to make sure the children understand the tenants of the Christian faith and can use these things to help them grow and thrive as mature and adult followers of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And above all…above all beloved…it is ours to make sure that the children of this parish meet and know Our Lord Jesus Christ…living and true.

And these things are no small task. These things take dedication and persistence and a sacrifice of time and dedication. The education and formation of our children is a job…a ministry that takes the effort and involvement of each and every person.

And this morning, brothers and sisters, I stand before you to tell you that we are not doing the job we should or must do.

It is not that we are not offering solid or meaningful opportunities…because we are. It is not that we are not offering opportunities…because we are.

We are continuing to fail in the same ways that we have failed since the 1960’s. That is to say, we are failing because collectively, many of us do not hold the education and formation of the children of the parish as a priority.

Or worse, many of us…or in our collective mind, hold the education of our children to be the job of the parents of those children. So, the Sunday School teachers are supposed to be the parents of children that particular age.
We may certainly say that the education of our children is a priority, but in what ways to manifest that idea?

In what ways do each and every one of us live out the vows we make on behalf of the little children at our Baptisms?

“Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ?…We will”
At present, we have a small group of ladies who work very hard and with not much support to provide education and formation for our children. And I would like to share with you a bit of their story.

I will start by telling you the story of my wife…and also will let you know this will in all likelihood be my last Sunday…for in sharing my wife’s story I have no doubt I am facing certain death.

But I think it is that important to share with you all.

Catharine, my loving and faithful wife of 13 years…the mother of my three children…my best friend and greatest supporter, gives a tremendous amount of time to this parish and to her children.

Catharine leads our EYC…the youth group here at the parish, along with Rick Burson, Eric Nail, and Melanie Follis. Catharine spends at least three and many times four or more hours each week preparing programing and activities for this group.

And then on Sunday evenings, she gives three more hours leading and guiding the youth of this parish…building them up, helping them to know Jesus…helping them to grow and mature.

Not counting that time…she is also involve in their lives…spending time during the week helping them with problems and concerns…being a friend.

Catharine also teaches the 4-6 graders…spending another 2 hours preparing lessons and activities for her kids in her class. And then each and every Sunday, she gets here early, gets the classroom ready, and spends an hour teaching the children of this parish.

So, all and all, she spends 12-15 hours each and every week helping build a foundation of faith for the youth of our parish family.

Another one of our Sunday School teachers gives the same amount of time…and comes down here for 4-6 hours a month making sure the advertisements and bulletin boards are up to date, and have uplifting messages and seasonal themes on them.

She also manages the curriculum and helps organize the teacher’s schedules and so much more. She gives many hours here as well.

Our other teachers have sacrificed much of their time as well. Many have given up weekend trips…others have to rush back on Saturday nights- leaving their children’s tournaments and events early to make it back home to teach the children of our parish.

All of our teachers have had to change their lifestyle and that of their family to commit to this ministry…they have all sacrificed a great deal to make sure the children here receive a proper education and a good foundation for the future…to make sure the know the Lord Jesus.

And it is a frustrating job. We still lack resources, we are short on faithful volunteers…we still lack adequate structures, the list goes on and on. But yet, these teachers are faithful, cheerful, loving and dedicated. But we need to do a better job supporting them.

Right now, we have nearly sixty children who call this parish home…and we only have a small handful of the faithful that attend to them.

I’ll share with you our most recent development. Up until last November, on any given Sunday, during the 10:30 service, it was normal to find in our one room nursery, between 15-20 children…and on good days even more.

Imagine for a moment what that looks like…our one room nursery packed to the gills…with children from infant to 1st grade all mixed up in a big wad of children.

It was complete chaos…both for nursery worker and for the children. So, out of necessity we began to have a children’s chapel during the first part of the 10:30 mass.

Mustering little support we began. Two or three very brave souls took this on. We tried our best to make the chapel into a place conducive for trying to keep the attention of 12-15 children.

And week after week after week after week…two or three people sacrificed coming to ‘big’ church to lead the children. Never getting a break…only recently have any been brave enough to lend a hand.

And to those who have lent a hand…God bless you. They need it in the worst sort of way.

We are blessed with the gift of children. I have no doubt that throughout this year more children will join us. I have no doubt that we will continue to grow.

This means that the responsibility will grow even greater…this means even more will be asked of us.

Our children need our support. Our teachers need help. This morning, I am asking each one of you to consider how you support the children of this parish.

Do you leave the job entirely for someone to do? Are you willing to give of your time to help? Are you willing to reconsider your giving to support a youth minister or coordinator?

If you do nothing else….pray. In the coming weeks the parish will be setting up structures and creating opportunities to get more people involved.

With the number of children we have…we must have more involvement from the parish at large. It is not an option.
This morning…as we hear Moses call the people of Israel to choose God and choose life….as Jesus calls us to perfection…

Let us hear and answer the call to raise up our children as disciples of Jesus…let make the choice to serve God and raise up the children of this parish in the way to which God has called us.

Parish Dinner tonight 2/16

Join us this tonight night for our February parish dinner. At the dinner we will look at the real Saint Valentine and be serenaded with a few romantic classics. A nursery will be provided and there will be activities for the kids. Come on out, share a meal, and learn more about your faith.

Baked Chicken
Macaroni au fromage et Dianne
Green Salad
Gâteau velours rouge

Music at St. John’s

Emily Hindrichs, soprano,with Lois Leventhal, piano
Sunday afternoon, February 27, 3:00 p.m.

“…soprano Emily Hindrichs dispatched exuberant, high-flown lines with a winning ease…” –Steve Smith, The New York Times

“To this taste, she had the finest voice — firm, full, lustrous, agile and distinctive — and her coloratura passages sometimes took on the disembodied quality of vocal exercises.”–Tim Page, The Washington Post

Emily Hindrichs is emerging as one of the important coloraturas or our time. In the spring 2009 she made her English National Opera debut in The Magic Flute as Queen of the Night. She reprised that role with New Orleans Opera in 2010, and will debut at Seattle Opera in 2011 and Oper Frankfurt in 2012. Ms. Hindrichs has bachelor and master degrees from USM, a M.A. in Musicology from the University of Exeter (U.K.) and a D.M.A. from New England Conservatory. Emily sang frequently with the St. Johns Choir during her student days at USM.
Lois Leventhal, pianist, received her doctorate of music at Indiana University and is a professor of music at The University of Southern Mississippi. In 1991, Dr. Leventhal was the recipient of The University of Southern Mississippi’s Award for Faculty Excellence. Her performing career includes concerto appearances throughout Mississippi, as well as solo and chamber recitals in Chicago, New York, London and, under the auspices of the U.S. Information Agency, Argentina and Uruguay.

Children’s Chapel

Thank you to those who have volunteered to help Crystal Nail and Phyllis Johnson with our Children’s Chapel program. This has been a huge undertaking for the two of them and now we need your help. Please call Crystal (601-319-7283) or the church office (601-428-7252) and sign up to volunteer 45 minutes of your time on Sunday morning. We are completing the March calendar and have several Sunday mornings that need someone to assist with the children. Please call and volunteer your time –you will be glad you did.

St. John’s Mens Basketball League

Saint John’s Church League Men’s Basketball team will close out the season this Thursday, March 24 beginning at 8:00 p.m.  The game will be played at Westminster Presbyterian Church gym and is sure to be exciting.  Thanks to all the guys on the team and to our Coach, Richard Follis–you all have made this season one for the record books.  Please come out and support our men as they play the final game of their season.