"Is our opposition to gun violence enough?"

Two years ago, the Social Witness Committee and Vestry agreed that we should place a sign above the doors of our cathedral, large enough to be read by all who pass by, proclaiming the biblical admonition against killing and announcing that our congregation opposes gun violence. Since that time the use of guns in the commission of violent and horrific attacks has escalated rather than abated. The sign on the front of our cathedral is dirty from the grime of our city. We must ask ourselves difficult questions: What witness we will give to the vision of peace, life, and love proclaimed by Jesus? While the recent synagogue shooting underscores the need to speak and act against hate and violenc

"Be encouraged! Get up! He is calling you."

The Gospel of Mark tells the story of Jesus' mission in rapid style. As you may know, he doesn't often give a lot of attention to detail, so the details he provides often are key to the message. This Sunday we will hear, from Mark chapter 10, the story of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar who sat on the side of the road as Jesus passed by. He called out to Jesus to have mercy on him. Those around Jesus tried to silence the man because they defined him as somebody of no account. But he persisted, calling all the more loudly for mercy. Jesus notices him and calls him. Here's the strange detail Mark includes -- Bartimaeus threw aside his cloak and came running to Jesus. Folks who live on the street gu

Apocrypha Hangout #4

Apocrypha Series September 30 – November 11, 2018 WEEK THREE: The Books of Wisdom and Sirach Wisdom of Solomon: Author, date and original language -- Most scholars believe Wisdom was written in Greek, probably in Alexandria by an educated Jew of the diaspora. The author makes use of Greek philosophical language, but also makes use of the wisdom tradition of the Hebrew Bible and writes in the fictional voice of the ancient and wise King Solomon. Like many books we have are studying in the Apocrypha, the author struggles with being a Jew in a Hellenistic culture, especially under persecution. While many dates for this book have been suggested, the range for writing is between the First Centur

Apocrypha Handout #1

Apocrypha Series September 30 – November 11, 2018 WEEK ONE: Introduction to the Apocrypha What is it? “The Apocrypha is a collection of additional books written by people of the Old Covenant, and used in the Christian Church” (Catechism, BCP, p.853). What are these books? The number of these books accepted as part of the Bible has differed in Western and Eastern Christian Churches. See the chart below to note the differences. Are they part of the Bible? The Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches see them as fully part of the canon of the Old Testament, but consider them as “Deuterocanonical,” a “second canon” within the Hebrew Bible. Jews do not consider them as part of thei

Apocrypha Handout #3

Apocrypha Series September 30 – November 11, 2018 WEEK THREE: Judith Genre – a fictional novella that makes use of people and places, but not in any real historically accurate way. It doesn’t pretend to (e.g. Nebuchadnezzar was the ruler of Babylon not Assyria). But this is fiction with a purpose – to teach an inspiring lesson of faithfulness to the law and the God of Israel in the midst of foreign domination. Date – Since there are no clear historical referents it is hard to date. Many scholars believe it dates to the time around or after the Jewish revolt of the Maccabees probably late Second or early First Century BCE. Content – “The Book of Judith is from beginning to end a moral tale, r

Apocrypha Handout #2

Apocrypha Series September 30 – November 11, 2018 WEEK TWO: Tobit Texts – Earliest manuscripts found at Qumran where five manuscripts have been found, four in Aramaic and one in Hebrew. Indicates it was originally written in a Semitic language (not Greek). Author, Date and Setting – Anonymous author, a pious Jew seeking to maintain Jewish identity in the midst of gentile culture in the diaspora. Journey described shows lack of familiarity with actual geography. Scholars believe it might have been written someplace in Mesopotamia or even in the land of Israel. Since it refers to the Book of Moses,” it post dates the composition of the Torah in the fifth Century BCE. Qumran indicate a date bef

November 2018 Events at St. John's

November | Sundays | 9:15 a.m. Christian Education Forums this fall will deal with two sections of the Bible we seldom study. From two Greek words opposite in meaning – Apocrypha, means to hide or obscure; Apocalypse to uncover or reveal. The Apocrypha are writings books of the Hebrew Bible whose inspiration has been contested in both Judaism and Christianity. Apocalyptic literature, such as the Book of Revelation, also called The Apocalypse, uses fanciful imagery to convey a deep meaning. Ironically, these images seem to cover up the true meaning rather than uncover it. Fr. Mark Kowalewski leads this forum every Sunday from 9:15 – 10:30 September 30 through December 9, except for October 28

Christians have a moral imperative to engage the political process...

Nearly 6oo years before the time of Jesus, the Prophet Jeremiah wrote to the Jewish people who had been exiled from their homeland to Babylon. He gives them this advice during their sojourn: "Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare" (Jeremiah 29:4-7). As Christians, our true citizenship is in the Kingdom of God, but right now we too live as e

How do we live as citizens of God's Kingdom?

In the last few weeks our Adult Bible Study has begun exploring some ancient Jewish Scriptures called Apocrypha. These are books written in the period when the Jewish people lived under the influence of Greek and Roman domination and culture. Books like Judith, Tobit and the Books of Maccabees have something to say to us in our day. Like these ancient authors, we ask: How do we live as citizens of God's Kingdom, in the midst of a culture that often operates at cross purposes with our values as God's people? The wisdom of the books of the Apocrypha suggest that as individuals and as a community of faith we present an alternative lifestyle to our culture -- to be neighbors to those around us,

"This nomination struggle has inflamed a culture war..."

This week we're experimenting with a new format for our weekly update. This will include a new concept for what has been called a Deans' Note. We have been using this space to give an overview of what's happening at St. John's, but instead, we will spend a little time thinking about spirituality, theology, or social issues from a faith perspective. So, this week we have been struck by the ongoing rift in our public discourse, especially seen in the controversy over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. We aren't arguing whether he should or should not be endorsed by the Senate. Clearly there are high stakes issues at play in this nomination, but the rhetoric on both sides of the aisle is no

October 2018 Events at St. John's

Past October Events: October 7 | Sunday | 9:15 a.m. Christian Education Forums this fall will deal with two sections of the Bible we seldom study. From two Greek words opposite in meaning – Apocrypha, means to hide or obscure; Apocalypse to uncover or reveal. The Apocrypha are writings books of the Hebrew Bible whose inspiration has been contested in both Judaism and Christianity. Apocalyptic literature, such as the Book of Revelation, also called The Apocalypse, uses fanciful imagery to convey a deep meaning. Ironically, these images seem to cover up the true meaning rather than uncover it. Fr. Mark Kowalewski leads this forum every Sunday from 9:15 – 10:30 September 30 through December 9,

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