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Archive for the ‘The Stories of St. John’s’ Category

By Melissa Mulloy

I cannot state this emphatically enough—I love Easter. But that was not always true. 

When I was a little girl, my family hosted two Lutheran college students from a nearby state one Easter weekend. They were part of a choir that would be performing at my church. I loved our church—a small, shiny white building with a steeple on top and bells that rang out a beautiful melody. 

I was shy, though, and not overly thrilled with having two strange college kids in our house. Nonetheless, I woke up early on Sunday morning, excited to see what Easter chocolate treasures awaited. Instead I found only the two young men—no mom, no dad, no Easter basket. The night before, my mom awoke with intense pain and was rushed to the hospital. She had a ruptured ulcer and would be in the hospital for a bit. The two students were tasked with getting me to Sunday worship. I was so scared—about my mom, about these strangers, about everything. And I was suffering from self-pity over the lack of chocolate.

Fast forward to the Easter when I was 12. My mom was in the hospital again. A few weeks earlier, she had come down with the flu. My dad had just lost his job, we had no health insurance, and my family was uncertain how to survive on my mom’s barely above minimum wage income. My mom did not want to spend any money to see a doctor. But she did spend money on a new Easter dress for me. Bright blue, it arrived in the mail from JC Penney’s. I loved it and modeled it for my mom as she lay in bed burning up with fever. 

A few days later, her distress became unbearable and she finally went to the doctor. The doctor admitted her to the hospital immediately and within hours she was in intensive care. A life-long heavy smoker, she had developed pneumonia and could no longer breathe on her own. When I finally got to see her, she had already been intubated and, while sometimes conscious, she couldn’t speak with the breathing tube down her throat. 

My siblings, all much older than me, came back home and we hunkered down in the hospital family room. Some nights, I couldn’t bring myself to leave and would sleep on the hospital’s family room couch. That’s where I woke up on Easter morning. On the coffee table in front of me was a really big Easter basket that my dad had purchased from the local Walgreen’s. Since Easter baskets did not fall under my dad’s job duties, I knew it was bad. 

Two weeks later, my mom died. I had gone home the night before. Early in the morning, my oldest sister woke me up and told me we needed to get to the hospital right away. Mom was gone before we arrived. The hospital chaplain prayed with us and read the twenty-third Psalm. I still have a love-hate relationship with that Psalm. I left, went home, and got ready to go to church by myself. Church wasn’t one of my dad’s duties either. But, since I attended parochial school there, that was where my friends were. I glommed on to my best friend, told her what happened, and then refused to talk to anyone else. She played defense for me, blocking anyone who tried to ask me about my mom. The best part was she didn’t make me talk. She just held my hand throughout the service. So many adults said so many foolish things to me, things about God’s plans, and better places, but not my twelve-year old friend. She totally got it. The following week, I wore my new Easter dress to the funeral and my class sang my mom’s favorite hymn, “Beautiful Savior.” 

The next six years were a mess. I was a mess. I moved from home to home, sometimes with blood family, sometimes with foster family, each with different beliefs, different rules, different schools. I rebelled in every way imaginable including becoming an avowed atheist. I asked the now-cliche question, how could God let this happen? I wanted nothing to do with such a god. 

By age 18, I had become a heavy smoker. Late that summer, though, I started to throw up every time I tried to light up. I just seemed to throw up all the time. I took a pregnancy test. 

The following May, my firstborn arrived, and my life took a whole new turn. I was no longer a smoker, no longer a drug user, and, holy cow, I went back to church. In the years between my mother’s death and his birth, I had grown to hate every holiday, but especially Easter. My mom had a way of making every holiday magical and I just couldn’t celebrate  any of them without her. But now, I wanted to make them magical for my own family. So, it was time to put on my big girl pants and embrace the holidays again.

Since I reclaimed the holidays—for me and my family—Easter has become my very favorite. I love everything about it. 

Easter is the one day of the year when I actually set a pretty dinner table, linens and all. If fortune smiles on me, all of our kids and grandkids are here along with a collection of friends who don’t have family to celebrate with. It is utter and beautiful chaos. 

Easter only comes after forty days of quiet and contemplation. We have to ride the roller coaster of Holy Week first, the jubilant parade of Palm Sunday, the solemnity of Maundy Thursday, the pain of Good Friday. But, on Easter morning, the sun rises again. It does indeed. I have witnessed resurrection too many times and in too many ways to not believe it’s true. 

Easter 2020. It will not be easy this year, but I am happy to celebrate it safely at home with a loving, caring husband. I will miss our kids, our grandkids, our extended family and friends. I will miss the utter and beautiful chaos. Still, I will set a pretty dinner table. Because resurrection is real and Easter always arrives.             

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“Together in the Presence of Almighty God”

Why do you go to church?

Not in a grand, theological sense. No, I mean: when the alarm goes off on Sunday morning, what makes you get out of bed and head to St. John’s? 

I’m sure the answer varies, not just from person to person but from day to day. I know for me, some days I show up out of genuine eagerness and other days mostly because I’m signed up to serve in the liturgy. Maybe for you the reason is the beautiful music made by Richard and our choir, or maybe it’s because you heard there would be a particularly tasty snack at coffee hour. We show up for a whole host of reasons.

But there is always a reason. In a society that no longer treats church attendance as a given, showing up to church is a choice. Even for those of us who have a well-ingrained habit of churchgoing, there are myriad other activities vying for our attention on Sunday mornings: family outings, sporting events, brunches with friends, leisurely mornings at home. And yet we choose to walk through the doors of 60 Kent Street to worship together.

What about when those doors are closed, though? This pandemic is not only forcing us to examine and adapt the way we worship. The stripping away of physical community invites us to pause and reflect on the essentials, to examine our habits and motivations, and to perhaps emerge with a new appreciation of what this whole church thing is all about.

So I’d invite you, as we hold community through livestreams and Zoom calls, to pause and think about what drives your participation in the life of the church. Ask yourself—without judgment—“what do I miss most about St. John’s?” 

The answers don’t need to be “right” or “wrong.” Yes, the Church gathers primarily to praise God, to ask his healing, and to be nourished Word and Sacraments. But this Divine Service isn’t (and I think shouldn’t be) the only reason we gather. Let this time apart be an opportunity to notice—notice what makes you long to gather back within the walls of St. John’s, what part of our regular parish life you’re most excited to return to. Is it the social community? Is it the Sacraments? Is the it the challenge to serve God in the world?

The Church is called to grow, as we invite the world into the healing God provides through the Body of Christ. But in order to invite others into the wholeness we find in the Church, we’re first challenged to understand why we keep going back ourselves. An invitation is much more meaningful when you know why you’re inviting the person.

So over the next weeks and months, I’d invite you to ponder this. Why do we “come together in the presence of Almighty God” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 79)? Why do you come? And why would you invite others to come?

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By Jayan Nair

During the rite for Holy Anointing, after the priest’s oil-soaked thumb traces the sign of the cross on your forehead, they offer a prayer for God to “restore you to wholeness and strength.” This image of God’s healing work as ‘wholeness’ carries a powerful weight with it, precisely because the brokenness in our world is overwhelming. We are brokenhearted, divided along the lines of difference, split by schisms in the Church, and torn between our own conflicting desires.

God meets us in this brokenness. He calls us into a relationship with Him and gathers together these broken pieces and binds them together. The burning desire that undergirds all of God’s work of salvation is that we might all be one—be whole. The business of the Church is bringing about this wholeness in the world—gathering the motley mass of humanity, molding and nourishing us through the Sacraments, and empowering us as agents to invite the world into this transformative healing.

In teaching us to live out this mission, our Anglican tradition invites us into specific practices to reckon with our brokenness, humbly bring it to God, and allow ourselves to be transformed. The Book of Common Prayer beckons us to join past generations of Episcopalians and seek our God of healing in the ‘trifecta’ of Benedictine spirituality: Eucharist, Daily Office, and Personal Devotions.

Holy Eucharist

The Eucharist, as “the principal act of Christian worship,” is our anchor on this journey of healing. In the act of making Eucharist, we gather “our selves, our souls and bodies” in all their aching brokenness and bring them to the foot of the cross. We can’t fix the brokenness ourselves, but we don’t have to. In the Eucharist we get to hand all the fragments of the world over to Jesus, who lifts them up to the Father as part of his own sacrifice. In this act of offering, our brokenness is brought into the unity of the Father and the Son and made whole. In Body and Blood of Christ, we get a foretaste of the perfect wholeness we will bask in at the last.

A great beauty of our faith is that we don’t make this offering, or taste its return, on our own. We make Eucharist side-by-side with other believers, other hurting people. And we make Eucharist in the company of the saints who went before us, and now sit in glory, joining their prayers with ours. Knowing we worship in unison with the saints is hugely comforting to me. As I look back on our Eucharist for St. Aelred (patron of LGBT+ Anglicans) on January 12, I’m heartened by the thought of offering myself up alongside someone who died centuries ago, who knows the pain that comes with life as a queer person, and who tastes the healing that has been promised.

Daily Office

As central as the Eucharist is to our lives as Christians, St. Benedict and the framers of the prayer book were careful to remind us that our spiritual lives can and should be further nourished by other practices. The Daily Office, a cycle of liturgical prayers for morning, midday, evening, and night, laid out in the prayer book brings a tradition with roots in pre-Christian Judaism out of the cloister and into the parish.

This practice has had a tremendous impact on my spiritual life and my own journey of healing. That’s the major motivation driving me as I’ve launched daily Morning Prayer to St. John’s and worked to establish the Society of St. Nicholas Ferrar, an association of people who commit to cultivating the Daily Office as a discipline in their own lives and their communities. As I pray the Psalms and the Scriptures day after day alongside fellow Christians, I’m continually astounded at the new depths of meaning and comfort that emerge.

I think this is why St. Benedict and Archbishop Cranmer were so insistent on the Office—if our lives are centered on praising God and recounting the stories of His healing work in the world, the experience of that healing is bound to saturate our souls over time.

Personal Prayer

St. Benedict knew, of course, that although the Body of Christ must be healed collectively, its Members come with brokenness that can be bared only to God. This is why personal prayers play a key role in a Benedictine/Anglican spiritual life. There are innumerable forms: contemplative prayer, the Rosary, journaling. As a parish we even explored a form from Eastern Christianity when Fr. Jonathan Proctor gave a workshop on praying with Orthodox icons on January 9.

Whatever form it takes, personal prayer is an opportunity for us to simply be present with God and open up our hearts for our innermost fractures to be healed. It’s between us and God. This privacy is, perversely, what can make it so difficult. It’s certainly where I struggle most, without obvious accountability. I can tell myself that buying myself that new icon or devotional book will be what gets me to make time for prayer. But new prayer aids rarely do it. The only thing that gets me to pray is noticing that I need the healing and comfort it provides.

That’s ultimately what these practices are all about: healing. That’s what all of this is about. God came into this world in its utterly shattered state, redeemed it, and raised it up to heaven. And he left his Church to continue making that wholeness manifest. The spiritual practices at the core of our Episcopal tradition—Eucharist, the Daily Office, and personal prayers—work God’s healing out in our lives and empower us to go out and invite the world to bring all its brokenness to God to be transformed into wholeness. We get to taste healing and say to the world with from our experience, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

*Originally published in the January/February 2020 edition of the Evangelist.

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Earlier this year, several members at St. John’s expressed a desire to be trained as healing prayer and healing anointing ministers. Since the rubrics in the Prayer Book state that “a deacon or a lay person may perform the anointing using oil blessed by a bishop or priest;” knowing that St. John’s receives chrism oil and oil of unction that has been blessed by our Bishop at the annual Chrism Mass every Holy Week; following Diocesan protocol, the Rev. Terry Dinovo, Dave Borton, and the Rev. Craig Lemming decided to organize a Healing Prayer and Healing Anointing training for those who are called to this ministry. Terry and Craig contacted the Rev. Joanie Delmater, a trained healing touch practitioner who works with the healing team at Episcopal Homes in St. Paul, and Joanie led a Healing Prayer and Healing Anointing training for eight lay ministers on Saturday, November 23 at St. John’s.

“We all are in need of healing — physical, emotional, and/or spiritual. As a new member of the church, I am delighted to serve as an instrument of healing through this ministry and to connect with parishioners in a deeply meaningful way.” — Wendy Fernstrum

“When I arrived for the training I was full of trepidation and thought I was just trying it out tentatively. However, when I did the healing prayer and anointing practice, with all of us sharing real concerns of the heart, and when I received the blessing comfort and then offered this to others, I was very deeply moved by the interconnecting spirituality. I was hooked. Practicing Healing Prayer and Healing Anointing made me deeply want to continue in this ministry as much as God grants me time to do.” — Jennifer Tianen

“I feel led to this ministry because I have been on the receiving end and I know what a blessing it is. From 2015 – 2018, I had 12 surgeries. Some were relatively minor but at least four were pretty “heavy duty.” In addition, I had three emergency hospitalizations. Healing prayers have enabled me to go into these with full confidence that I was in the Lord’s hands. And the outcomes have overall been very positive. I want others to be able to experience the blessings that I received.” — Gil Lautenschlager

“In the Healing Prayer and Healing Anointing Training, I realized we are all called to healing each other through deep, caring, non-judgmental listening; bearing witness, blessing, and anointing. These beautiful selfless acts reverberate in every direction. All are touched; even if only by Christ’s hem, and reciprocal healing manifests.” — Kathy Brown

“For me, the healing ministries need to once again come alive. They were an integral part of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus invites us, no, commands us in Scripture to heal the sick. It is at our wooden rail where we ask the Living Christ to touch the life of a St. John’s parishioner and allow God’s healing to enter in. What a blessing to be part of that.” — Dave Borton

*Originally published in the January/February 2020 edition of the Evangelist.

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The Community of Hope International is a global network of trained lay pastoral caregivers steeped in Benedictine spirituality who serve others through compassionate listening. St. John’s has now formed three cohorts of COHI-trained lay pastoral ministers: in 2015, 2017, and 2019. Our new cohort of lay pastoral caregivers completed their 14-week curriculum last month; a marvelous spiritual journey which began in late August.

Our newest cohort of 12 lay pastoral caregivers includes Kathy Brown, Joan Cleary (from St. Clement’s Episcopal Church), Richard Day, Tony Grundhauser, Jayan Koshy, Lee Larson, Laura O’Brien Smith, Sheryl Ramstad, Marjorie Rapp, Kevin Seitz-Paquette, Jennifer Tianen, and Jerry Woelfel. We are very grateful for the excellent instruction we received from our guest presenters: Sister Kate Maxwell, O.S.B. who led the Modules on Benedictine Spirituality and Commitment to Ministry; the Rev. Phil rose who led the Modules on Theology of Pastoral Care, the Pastoral Visit and Boundaries, and Pastoral Care for Seniors; Mary E. Johnson who led the Modules on Pastoral Identity; Confidentiality, Debriefing, the First Practice Visit at Episcopal Homes; and Care for the Caregiver; the Rev. Jered Weber-Johnson who led the Module on Listening Skills; Dr. Christine Luna Munger who led the Module on Prayer, Christian Meditation, and Silence; the Rev. Craig Lemming who led the Module on Motivational Spiritual Gifts; the Rev. Susan Moss who led the Module on Understanding Family Systems; the Rev. Joy Caires who led the Module on Grief: Coping with Loss; and the Rev. Jennifer Allred who led the Module on the Second Practice Visit at Episcopal Homes.      

Our new cohort of Community of Hope International lay pastoral caregivers was commissioned during the 10 o’clock Holy Eucharist on Sunday, January 5, 2020. They join our existing Circle of Care community of COHI-trained pastoral caregivers who were formed in 2015 and 2017. We bid your prayers for our pastoral care team as we follow Christ’s call to love and serve one another as we journey through the seasons of life’s joys and sufferings. 

“My COHI experience has been meaningful to me because during these last 14 weeks I have been able to claim my ‘Yes’ to God’s call to pastoral care. This has happened through spiritual nurturing with prayer, liturgy, deeply wise presenters; along with practical tools such as practice, role playing and reading. All of this has been supported with prayer through my COHI community under the compassionate guiding hand of Father Craig Lemming. I am so deeply grateful!”     — Kathy Brown

“COHI  has brought to my awareness the great need we have in our parish to show up and to be spiritually present to those in need, and how God is present in every situation.” — Marjorie Rapp

*Originally published in the January/February 2020 issue of the Evangelist.

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By Lea Anne Schmidt,
Coordinator of Growth & Member Engagement

Each week we have the privilege of worshipping with an average of 3 to 6 first-time visitors. And during the last program year, St. John’s welcomed over 25 new members! This fall you will surely see some faces of fellow parishioners whom you recognize but haven’t had the opportunity to meet. Our parish is growing and with that, we multiply the opportunities to cultivate new relationships and friendships through worship, ministry, and prayer.

This program year, St. John’s has adopted a theme of Seeing through God’s eyes, Noticing each of God’s beloved, and Welcoming with God’s love. The joy of noticing and welcoming our new members belongs to each person in the parish. To name just a few examples: You may hear new voices in the choir this fall with the addition of Courtney Veszi and Beth Rhodes. If you attend a weekday morning prayer service, you will be praying alongside Jayan Nair, the primary morning prayer officiant. And when stopping by the office on a Tuesday afternoon, Marjorie Rapp will most likely be the one to greet you. All of these members have been profiled in The Evangelist in the past, and in this issue we are introducing you to two more households who joined the church in May.

Our newest members have courageously jumped into life at St. John’s with both feet. Please meet their enthusiasm by noticing new faces and taking a moment to introduce yourself. Ask them what they love about the ministry they serve or the liturgy they attend, and let them know we appreciate the energy, presence, prayers, and voices that they bring to our faith community.

Andrew Fox

Andrew grew up in Hastings; his family goes back six generations in Dakota County. At Augsburg College, he majored in Medieval Studies and Religion. He first attended St. John’s at a Compline service a few years ago. The rich liturgy, music, and welcoming atmosphere have made him feel very much at home here. He’s grateful to have been recently confirmed and now be a “full-fledged Episcopalian!”

He loves visiting museums, especially the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the American Swedish Institute. He works for the Minnesota Historical Society and has a great fondness for historic houses.

Phillip & Julia Takemura Sears

Julia grew up in Japan and Iowa, while Phillip (having a father who worked on army bases) moved around a lot. They were actually both born in Maryland, but didn’t meet until attending Iowa State University together.

Julia, a digital archivist, loves to sing, dance, draw, paint, do voice acting, and roller skate. Phillip loves telling stories with friends.

Phillip first came to St. John’s as a staff singer. He says, “As a singer for church services, I have sung in many congregations of which I was not formally a part of.  Julia and I decided that we wanted to sing and also join the church we sing for.” Julia adds, “I ended up joining the choir and have kept coming ever since. I also keep coming back because this church seems to be about open-minded thinking and universal love.”

Originally published in the September/October 2019 Evangelist.

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By Jered Weber-Johnson

Most of you know that I absolutely love Luke’s resurrection story when Jesus shows up on the road to Emmaus, and how the disciples didn’t recognize him until he broke the bread at dinner with them.

This summer over 130 members of our faith community gathered in one another’s homes to break bread and share stories, and in so doing, we began to notice and see the presence of something holy. Simple hospitality, laughter, learning each other’s names and backgrounds, full bellies and hearts: these were just some of the ways we described our experience of these Connect Meals over the past three months.

Thanks to our hosts and thanks to all who were courageous enough to show up not knowing who’d be there or what exactly to expect.

Here’s what you noticed, experienced, and took away from these meals:

Even though I knew who the other guests were, several were people whom I had never talked to before that evening. I guess that is what is supposed to happen at these gatherings!
—Cynthia Bertheau

Living alone, I enjoy having a meal with others and, frankly, checking out their homes to see what they collect and cherish. I’m already looking forward to next year’s gatherings.
—Karen Mosso

I enjoyed the chance to see my hosts in the natural environments of their homes. I love seeing what they have around them, the colors, the artwork, the gardens, the pets (especially the pets!). I appreciate the effort my hosts put into their meals and love it a lot when someone cooks for me!
—Barbara Mraz

Having interviewed thousands of people I’m reasonably good at reading body language, eye contact, and voice inflections. What was wonderful for me was not what happened, though that was nice enough, but what didn’t happen. Nobody so much as batted an eyelash when I arrived being different. People approximately in my age range (72), who might  hypothetically have had more conservative reactions to me, didn’t skip a beat. Everyone was wonderfully and reflexively hospitable.
—Jennifer Tianen

We were amazed at the many life stories shared at our Connect Meal and appreciated the opportunity to hear how life can hold so many opportunities for growth and change.
—Ed Stieve and Otto Paier

Conversations that would not otherwise happen took place that will lead to new understanding and relationships.
—Linda Lindeke

We loved the meals we attended. So fun for the kids to all play, and for the parents to hang out with each other!
—Jessica Berry

I was surprised to learn that more than one of the youth knew me from my participation in cross-generational Lenten meetings. They notice and remember. Those times are invaluable.
—Roger Wilson

To have the Rector prepare and serve me food in his home was humbling. It was also a gift to get to know Erin better—that is, beyond how I know her as a spouse and mother.

An added joy was the sound of kids playing in the basement and the occasional appearance of a happily excited child. The parents were calm and amused by the scene.
—Sally Sand

Originally published in the September/October 2019 Evangelist.

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By Ellie Watkins

Every time we meet someone new, we give them information on how we’d like to be seen and addressed. We tell them if we have a nickname that we prefer. We tell them if we are a Dr. or a Miss or a Ms. We might encourage them to be less formal and call us by our first name. We’re revealing to this new acquaintance a part of who we are, and we want them to truly see that part and respect it.

Another part of the introduction process that’s becoming more common is to tell the other person your name and your pronouns. For example, I’d say, “My name is Ellie, and my pronouns are she/her.” Jered Weber-Johnson’s pronouns are he/him; he cooks great eggplant. Margaret Thor’s pronouns are she/her; her leadership is invaluable. Some people identify as they/them. (Grammarians may bristle at using a plural pronoun to refer to a single person, but we already do that with the word “you” and we still understand each other!)

Why is this something that we, as Christians in community, benefit from integrating into our own lives? Sharing pronouns is a way for transgender and gender-nonconforming people to ask: Do you accept me? Do you see me? What can I expect from you going forward? Using their correct pronouns tells them that we want to know their true selves, not something constructed for someone else’s comfort. For people whose gender identity matches the one they grew up with, sharing pronouns is a way to normalize that part of introductions so that everyone feels comfortable doing it. It can also help prevent someone with a name common to men and women (like Jess or Dale) or a less familiar name (like Wei or Elif) from having their gender misidentified.

Beginning on Gathering Sunday, we’ll have stickers available for you to put on your nametag so that people can notice your name and your gender identity.
In this way, we can truly see and welcome each other with God’s love.

If you have any questions, please feel free to speak to Ellie Watkins in the office, or any of the clergy.

Originally published in the September/October 2019 Evangelist.

 

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By Richard Gray, Director of Music

When I think about Compline, I think of a peaceful ending to a long day. This service, the final office of the day, is an opportunity for faithful worshippers to gather and reflect.

My first experience with Compline was actually assisting to officiate it. Two years ago, I was the organ scholar at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Nashville, learning about the Anglican services. I finished choir rehearsal and then headed to a 9pm service of Compline. Some questions went through my head: “Is this like an Evensong? Is there a bulletin? Wait, was I supposed to prepare organ voluntaries??” I was pleasantly surprised to find out just how calm and beautifully simple this service was. It reminded me of my Catholic upbringing and how we used to “keep watch” throughout the night-long adoration in the chapel.

I am excited to continue our wonderful tradition of offering Compline weekly at St. John’s. A goal of mine is to keep with the practice of faithful participation by the congregation and also explore additional meditative and contemplative components. I look forward to welcoming back the Mirandola and Lumina ensembles from right here in the Twin Cities, as well as introducing a new quartet, The St. John’s Compline Choir, that will lead a few times each semester.

I am eager for Compline to have an even greater presence in, not only the musical life of St. John’s, but the entire faith community.

By Keith Davis

What first drew me to Compline was curiosity. I’ve had a lifelong interest in Gregorian Chant, and I had prayed with the monks at St. John’s College. This new way of worship enthralled me and left me humbled, excited, and scared all at once.

When I first began attending, the Rev. Craig Lemming was leading the services. What a perfect voice! His chanting, and the meditative and contemplative experience, made my week.

I’m an incurable romantic, and being in the Compline service always takes me back to that monastic time. But it also connects me with the spiritual traditions of other communities today.

I see our welcome in the service because any and all are invited. We have a core group of Compline attendees, and not all of them are from St. John’s. Some are members of other churches or live in the neighborhood. People unaffiliated with any church come here to listen. You never know what people are bringing to Compline or wanting or needing. As my grandmother used to say, “Your blues may not be like mine, but they are blue.” We’re all at Sung Compline for a reason, and we all share in the bonding experience. We all let go of what we did or did not do that day.

The word “Compline” comes from Latin meaning “completion” because, as the last of the Daily Offices, it completes the day. Compline means completion, and it is completion.

 

By Sister Julian Smith-Boyer

I pray all the Daily Offices with my dispersed religious order by way of a customized computer application that joins us across different time zones.  These times of prayer are integral and essential to my everyday life and spiritual growth.

I feel especially blessed to be able to be part of St. John’s weekly Compline service while sitting among people who I can see face-to-face in our choir space— lit with soft lighting and candles and enhanced by some incense (which I enjoy even though I am sensitive to it). I am transported with this “intentional” community of neighbors and fellow parishioners to a time of quiet and a sense of being in the presence of the Divine Mystery

Our voices are led in ever-improving harmony by a small choir who help even those non-singers like me believe I can sing.  On occasion, the service is followed by contemplation-inspiring music.

Given the nature of this service, there is little conversation, but there is a knowing and welcoming exchange of smiles and nodding heads. Throughout and after the service, we look out for one another—for example, by sharing a bulletin, walking to the parking space in the dark together, or by offering a ride home.

Sung Compline is among the offerings by St. John’s that I am most grateful for.  It centers my week and helps to end my Thursdays with a feeling that “all shall be well.” It completes the day, and in some ways I feel it also completes me.

Originally published in the September/October 2019 Evangelist.

 

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By Jered Weber-Johnson

Compline has been a regular part of our practice of praying the Daily Office for over five years. While the customary has shifted and changed some each year, the consistency of observing the Daily Office, whether in the morning, at noon, or in the evening, has strengthened our life of Common Prayer in this faith community. Thanks to a generous gift from John Graham to create a Compline Fund, sustained by the support of additional donors, we have been able to offer weekly Compline each Thursday evening during the program year.

Over those years we have also seen different leaders: Keely Morgan, Craig Lemming, Kim Sueoka, and, most recently, Monte Mason. This past year as Richard Gray assumed the responsibilities as our first full-time Director of Music, Monte graciously stayed on as our Compline Coordinator, arranging musicians, scheduling
vergers, and seeing to the important details that a liturgy of this caliber requires. Now that Richard has a year under his belt, these duties are passing to him and a new season of Compline leadership begins. I am immensely grateful to the calm and patient leadership of Monte, his good humor, and wisdom. As the program moves into this new year, I know Richard will inherit a well-tended and thoughtful liturgy.

As the year begins, we look forward to Compline and some of the ways that this service can help us see and notice things in our life of faith, with new eyes.

Originally published in the September/October 2019 Evangelist.

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