Dear St. John’s community,

Blessings to you during this twelve-day season of Christmas! I’m happy to share with you that our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services were well attended, and Christmas seemed to feel a little more “normal” this year. We had nearly 200 people present for in-person worship. A number of others who were sick, travelling, or otherwise unable to attend in person attended online. It was a blessing to be present with you for the first time this Christmas and I had a lot of fun! I had fun playing the guitar and singing with the Joyful Noise Choir before the 6:30 p.m. service. I had fun attending choir practices and meeting with worship leaders. I had fun working with our staff to prepare the services and make sure everything was ready. It was a blessing to see our children do an outstanding job of telling the Christmas story during the children’s liturgy, and it was beautiful to sing Silent Night by candlelight as the smoke from the incense thurible hung in the air. I think it’s safe to say that St. John’s does Christmas right. Thank you to everyone who participated and made it so lovely.

There are a couple of Christmas season announcements I’d like to share with you. Firstly, you likely noticed during Christmas services that we used real bread for communion for the first time. This is the same communion bread recipe that is used at my seminary, the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. That means it is communion bread that has been used by many, many prominent people in the Episcopal Church. Former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori once served as the Head Sacristan at CDSP (the same role I once held there!), meaning she baked bread using the same recipe. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has shared communion at CDSP. Even our own former bishop, Kirk Smith, serves as interim dean at CDSP, meaning he is quite familiar with this recipe. I hope the use of this communion bread enhances your relationship with Jesus. I prefer using real bread that we break because it backs up the words we say: We who are many are one body because we all share one bread and one cup. It is a simple recipe to make and I am hopeful to put together a bread baking ministry. Communion bread will likely need to be baked monthly. If you are interested in leading or joining the bread baking ministry, please contact the office.

Secondly, I am pleased to tell you that I have been working with a travel company to plan a pilgrimage to the United Kingdom and Ireland. This pilgrimage will take place over the course of several weeks in May of 2024. This means you have over a year to plan, make payments, and prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime chance to travel abroad with your St. John’s friends. Together we will see sights important to our Anglican heritage such as Canterbury Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, as well as sights in Edinburgh, Belfast, Dublin, and more. We will also do some sightseeing outings to places like Stonehenge and Liverpool. Do Beatles landmarks interest you like they interest me? And how about enjoying an ice-cold pint of Guinness while overlooking the city of Dublin at the world-famous Gravity Bar atop the St. James Gate Brewery? We will do all of these and more. I hope you can join us, because it’s going to be a fun journey and I hope it will enhance our collective spirituality. Signups are now open here: Click the link that says you have a group code, and when prompted, enter group code 24009. This site is accessible only on a computer or tablet. If you need assistance navigating the portal, please contact the office. Additional specific information will be sent out soon.

Again, thank you for making Christmas services so wonderful. Keep up the good work of loving Jesus and loving your neighbors. And remember, the Christmas season only just started! We have eleven more days of Christmas to celebrate!

Christmas Blessings at St. John’s 2022