April 12, 2019: Becoming Free at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

From Fr. Steven


Last Tuesday evening at the Cathedral, listening to 3 formerly incarcerated people speak about their experiences in prison and about their lives after being released, I felt I was in the presence of an authentic, and profoundly moving, holiness.

I remembered feeling this same way, waiting on Metro North train platforms at Ossining and Beacon, after an evening with prisoners at the Sing-Sing and Fishkill Correctional Facilities. For two years, as a seminarian, I ministered to those incarcerated in those two prisons. Even now, I don't think I have ever come closer to experiencing God than when I was inside those walls.

Now, I certainly don't mean that the prisoners I was with were in any way "better" than the rest of us.

Rather, the reason that I felt so close to holiness last Tuesday, and during those two years, was because these incarcerated men and women were forced to live without any illusions about themselves.

That is what makes them so holy to me: they no longer pretend. Pretend that they have it all together. Pretend that there is an unbridgeable difference between the wicked and the good. Pretend that life is something to be "mastered." 

Instead, prisoners can admit that all of us are capable of wicked deeds (just as we are all capable of good deeds). They can admit that life is less about "mastery" and more about gratitude, that each day "there we go but for the grace of God." They can admit that a more helpful description of the Christian life is that it is less an effort to be "good," and more of an effort to be "real," i.e., to be honest, especially to ourselves.

As we approach Holy Week, my prayer for all of us is that we can have the same courage of honest self-examination. That we can take a moment to admit to ourselves, that no, we don't always have it all together. And that's ok. God will still love us, anyway. That's the definition of grace. 

The Rev. Steven Lee
Vicar

For passes to the 11am service on Easter Sunday, please use this link:

Easter Passes
 

From Marsha and Tim


Saturday morning meditation continues at 9:30 a.m. in Saint Saviour Chapel
 
The last session of “Unburdening” Lenten meditation sessions will be held this Saturday.  Father Lee will lead.  It is not a bad idea to get “centered” before we begin our journey into Holy Week with Palm Sunday services the next day.

Holy Week Ushers needed

Contact Head Usher and Warden Tim Dwyer (timothyddwyer9@yahoo.com  if you can be available for ushering Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday, and all the Holy Week services in between.  This is a good opportunity to welcome thousands who will come to the Cathedral between Palm Sunday and Easter.  NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY!

Palm Sunday Services—Where to meet!
 
This year both the 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. services begin with a procession.    At 9:00 a.m. the people gather in the crossing.  At the 11:00 a.m., the people gather on 113th Street on the plaza in front of the North Transept or at the top of the steps.  The plaza can be reached from inside the Cathedral (door 6) and from the accessibility ramp on the north side. If you are physically unable to join the procession, just take a seat and enjoy watching the congregation file in waving their palms. 
 
Yes, Virginia, there will be a Second Sunday reception on Palm Sunday
 
After the 11:00 a.m. service a simple meal awaits in Cathedral House. 
 
Support for Cathedral Community Cares Easter Sunday—bring food for a special meal
 
Easter Sunday the Soup Kitchen serves a festive Easter meal.  Congregation members are encouraged to bring donations of fully cooked chickens (20 are needed); brown gravy; cans of ground coffee and desserts—cookies, pies, cakes. Bring your donation to the Kitchen by 10:00 a.m.  Enter through the door across from the guard booth on the south side of the Cathedral.  THANK YOU!

Easter Flower Fund

If you would like to make a donation to the Easter Flower Fund you can do this easily by going to this link:  https://www.stjohndivine.org/get-involved/donate/  and select Easter Flower Fund from the drop down menu. 

Looking ahead:  Education for Ministry (EfM) Open meeting:  April 25, 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. Cathedral House. 

If you find yourself full of the spirit after a powerful Holy Week at the Cathedral, perhaps this is a good time to find out more about EfM.  The Education for Ministry (EfM) group here at the Cathedral invites you to come to its annual Open Meeting. The group meets from 6:30-9:00 in room 118 of Cathedral House. This is a chance to sit it on a typical meeting and get a feel for this dynamic program of study and discovery. We explore our identity as Christians, our invitation to be a part of God's action in the world, and the personal ministry that evolves for the baptized who promise to seek and serve Christ in all persons and strive for justice and peace among all people, respecting the dignity of every human being. EfM It is a program designed by the University of the South (Sewanee), a leading Episcopal University, for distance learning by laity.   

For further information speak with Fr. Lee, our Mentor Donna Devlin or current students — Paula McKenzie, Tony Errante, Robin Lustig, Carla Navallo.  

May you have a blessed Holy Week,
Tim and Marsha