A favorite St. John’s tradition is our annual Christmas Tree Cutting Trip. On Saturday, December 3, we will organize at the Nickles’ home at 10am and journey to the Big Horns for our annual event. Megan will create a potluck sign-up sheet that will be posted next to the Coffee Hour sign-up sheet. Please note that permits can be obtained at the “Country Store” Gas Station in Lovell (same place as last year), which is on the way to the Big Horns. Their phone number is 307-548-7110. The Lovell Forest Service Office is not issuing tree permits at this time.
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The good news of Advent is that if we wait,
while we wait, in the waiting, God comes.
Advent is a season of hopeful anticipation of God’s breaking into our world and our time. It is composed of four Sundays prior to Christmas Day, beginning this year on November 27. Liturgical colors are used for vestments and altar decoration (frontals) to mark the seasons and to symbolize the themes. The color used for Advent is either purple or blue. We prefer blue to represent water – the water over which God’s Spirit moved in Creation (Gen. 1) to begin the process of life and the water of Baptism which is the starting place for all Christians who anticipate the coming of Christ into their lives. The liturgies of Advent are characterized by a sense of the awesomeness of the God for whom we wait. We often use an Advent Wreath of four or five candles, lighting one more each week, to mark the time of waiting. This year at St. John’s, we will be singing a quiet chant while the children sound their chimes as the Advent Candle is lit. Many families have their own Advent Wreath custom at home.
Christmas is the Season when we proclaim the unique nature of our God – that God does not stand aloof from us, but fully enters into our lives. The first liturgy of Christmas is the Eve of that day. At St. John’s, we celebrate this first liturgy of Christmas at 6pm on Christmas Eve, and it is a joy-filled time of being together, looking inward and looking outward. The season of Christmas lasts for 12 days, beginning on the 25th and ending on the 12th night, or January 5th. The color used in Christmas liturgies is white, symbolizing purity, joy, and hope.
In our world today, our culture bombards us with images of a perfect Christmas that is obtainable if one spends the “right” amount of money on the “perfect” gift. St. John’s would like to offer support for alternative ways to celebrate new or on-going traditions of simplicity and meaning during this Advent and Christmas Season. How can one find new ways to celebrate these seasons in a way that deepens our faith, deepens our relationships with each other and the world, and deepens the Advent/Christmas meaning? A good first step would be to begin the discussion: how can we celebrate this year? What new traditions can we create? What treasured traditions do we hold dear? What does this look like as our children are now adults? What can this mean for families with young children or for families with no children? Here are a few examples to consider:
- The Nickles/Woods family has decided to forego giving each other gifts this year. They will fill stockings for each other with small, personal, meaningful things. They will also carry on their tradition of exchanging Christmas Cards with each other and sharing this exchange as a family.
- Another St. John’s Family, the Tillotsons, have continued to enjoy a tradition that Angela’s grandparents initiated. It’s a competition of sorts, with participants making ice cream balls (usually vanilla with coconut) that have a candle in the center. The competition is to see whose candle stays lit the longest. The winner is pronounced King or Queen for the year and presented a crown made out of an ice cream bucket decorated with tinsel . Their picture is taken and their name is added to a scroll which lists previous winners.
- Another way to create memories is to travel together as a family in lieu of gifts, with the focus on spending time together. This could be as simple as planning day trips to spending days away.
- Another tradition, in lieu of gifts, is to make a donation to a favorite charitable organization in a loved one’s name. Locally, this could include Powell Valley Loaves & Fishes, the local Marine Toys for Tots, the Senior Center, the Moyer Animal Shelter, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. Globally, this could include Heifer International (they work in the areas of livestock and agriculture to develop programs that alleviate hunger and poverty), the Humane Society, the ASCPA, St. Jude’s Children Hospital, etc. The important idea is that it is a place of great meaning to the person in whose name the donation is being made.
- Buy socks! Socks are the #1 most requested item at homeless shelters. This fact is the driving force behind Bombas. Bombas exists to help solve this problem, to support the homeless community, and to bring awareness to an under-publicized problem in the United States. Visit them here for more information.
- A donation of time is also important, especially to volunteer your time along with your kids, partner, or loved one. Spend some time visiting at the nursing home. Help sort and organize food items at Powell Valley Loaves and Fishes. Call the Moyer Animal Shelter and see how you can help with cleaning the animal cages, walking the dogs, or other specific needs they may have.
Small Group Studies Offered
LOL in text-speak means “laugh out loud.” But on Wednesday mornings at St. John’s, it means Little Old Ladies. A group of laughing ladies gathers at 10 a.m. with Katy Lytle and Claudia Hassler and are currently reading Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith by Kathleen Norris. Blending history, theology, storytelling, etymology, and memoir, Norris evokes a spirituality rooted firmly in the chaos of everyday life—and offers believers and doubters alike perspective on how we can embrace ancient traditions and find faith in the contemporary world.
Charlotte Patrick is facilitating a 7-week video series on Church History based on Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch, which was used in EfM. The video series is much abbreviated but should offer a great overview with quality scholarship. The course requires no reading or preparation. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Megan Nickles will lead a video study featuring Barbara Cawthorne Crafton, Embracing Forgiveness: What it Is and What it Isn’t. The five weekly sessions topics are: Seventy Times Seven: Really?; You have Heard It Said; Chipping Away; How to Start; Why Forgive. This series starts Thursday, October 22 at 7 p.m. A workbook will be provided; preparation for each session is helpful, but not required. Please let Sue Woods know if you are interested in attending. This class will also be available in January. Contact email@example.com
A men’s group is also forming. Ron Lytle will facilitate this group to explore how the men of St. John’s can find their voice and role in our community. The group itself will decide on group norms, including time and place and will use an 8-week study to provide initial structure— Following Jesus: Invitation to Discipleship. This study seeks to offer guidance for the journey through scripture, commentary, reflection, and prayer.
In March, St. John’s entered into partnership with our local Habitat for Humanity Affiliate to improve owner-occupied homes as part of Habitat’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI). This mission was awarded a major $50,000 grant from our Diocesan Foundation to support this project.
The NRI preserves existing homes, including repairs and other services which helps families that are already living in their homes, but can no longer afford to maintain them. The NRI starts at the grassroots level — with people in the community determining the goals for their neighborhood. It is a house by house, street by street and neighborhood by neighborhood program to preserve and improve existing homes and build stronger communities.
Our NRI committee has canvased the houses of Powell, and has begun to focus on neighborhoods and particular houses, and will begin making contact with homeowners in the next week or so.
St. John’s was also part of a grant-seeking effort to support families take part in a invigorating winter activity. The grant provides Big Horn Basin families the opportunity to learn to ski at Sleeping Giant Ski Area. The Yellowstone Recreations Foundation, the fund-raising arm for the ski area, is hoping to promote skiing with a $40,000 grant for its family scholarship fund.
Included in the $40,000 from the Diocese were grants from the following local churches: Christ Episcopal Church, Cody ($10,000), St. John’s Episcopal Church, Powell ($500), St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Meeteetse ($100) and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Basin ($250). The money will be used to finance YRF’s family scholarship fund.
General Manager of Sleeping Giant Jon Reveal said the grant will make a significant impact.
“The scholarship fund identifies people who are unable to afford the expense of skiing,” Reveal said. “We recognize the expense of skiing. …We need special clothing, special equipment.”
The grant offsets more than the lift ticket expenditures. “This grant covers not only their lift tickets but lessons, rentals and season passes,” Woods said. “It’s not just one round of skiing. It covers the whole season.”
Ann Simpson, vice president and chairman of the fundraiser of YRF, said the grant makes it easier for families to spend time together. “It’s to encourage families to ski together,” Simpson said.
If interested in applying for a family scholarship, or if you know someone who might benefit from it, call YRF’s office, 578-6312 or pick up an application at the office, Suite 207, 13th St., Cody or online at the Sleeping Giant website, skisg.com. Click “Contact Us” and select “Scholarships.”
Remember also that all fifth grade students ski free as well, and equipment rentals and one group lesson are included, too!
The Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming has partnered with the Diocese of Kiteto in Tanzania in a seven-year relationship. This relationship is reciprocal in design as each diocese will share its gifts and learn from each other. As part of that give-and-take relationship, our very own Rob Rumbolz will be traveling to Tanzania from July 3–19, with a group of 5 other musicians/music educators from the Diocese. The group will be visiting Masai villages within the Diocese of Kiteto, observing their worship practices and working with folks there on music. The hope is to bring back music and ideas to share with our communities here in Wyoming.
This is a 10 day working trip, with travel days on either side. Others in the groups are Veronica Schultz, Riverton; Suzie Shatz-Benson, Sheridan; Christine Jacobson, Rock Springs, Harold Schultz, Riverton; Jessica Reynolds, Casper. They will stay at the Kiteto diocesan headquarters in Kabaya, in northern Tanzania, which is also close to many game reserves.
In October, Rob will attend Diocesan Convention and will give a presentation about his experiences there. He will also do a presentation for us here at St. John’s, sometime in the Fall. St. John’s is providing $2,000 to Rob to cover his expenses for this trip.
Rob has his PhD in ethnomusicology and is on the music faculty at Northwest College. Ethnomusicology is an academic field encompassing various approaches to the study of music (broadly defined) that emphasize its cultural, social, material, cognitive, biological, and other dimensions or contexts instead of or in addition to its isolated sound component or any particular repertoire. Rob is also bringing his trumpet with him on this trip.
The diocese of Kiteto was created in 2009. It includes 8 deaneries, 35 parishes, 140 congregations, and over 15,000 members. The languages spoken in this part of Tanzania include Swahili and Massai. More information at the Wyoming Diocese site.
Announcing an exciting new feature of the Powell Episcopal website: Sermons are now available in MP3 format. You may listen to recent sermons or search by date or preacher or subject to find older sermons. Sermons are not often available on the same day, but we might get there! In addition, you can subscribe to the sermons and get notifications when a new one is uploaded. To begin, click the “Sermons” tab above.
Our Schedule page has the St. John’s calendar with church events listed. Clicking on an event reveals the list of people assigned duties for that day, or other information. This Google calendar can be sorted by week, month, or in “agenda” format, and can be imported to your computer’s datebook using the links on the page.
If you’d like a short tutorial on any of this website’s features, please contact Scott Larsen.
Wyoming Diocese Youth Event
Calling all young Episcopalians grades 6 through 12! There is a Diocesan youth event at St. James Episcopal Church in Riverton Feb. 22nd to Feb. 24th.
This is the first of four quarterly diocesan-wide youth events for 2013. The event will begin at 7 p.m. Friday night and will include fun activities, reflection, a service project on Saturday, planning time for our next gathering, and worship with St. James on Sunday morning.
This event is built upon the framework of the popular Happenings program. Leaders for this first event are Trent Moore, St. John’s, Jackson; Syd Johnson, HR Camp Director; and Tristan English. The cost for the event is $10.
February 12 marks the celebration known as Shrove Tuesday. At St. John’s we clean out the cupboards with a traditional pancakes-and-sausage dinner. We’ll begin serving at 5:30 but welcome help in the kitchen beginning at 5. Invite your friends; there’s no cost but donations are accepted. Proceeds are forwarded to the Cathedral Home for Children in Laramie. If you can’t make it at 5, please come whenever you can. We stop serving at 7 and clenup usually is finished by 7:30.
St. John’s Thrift Shop has had another successful year. The dedicated Thrift Shop volunteers are very grateful to all those who donate items to the shop and especially to all of the wonderful customers! It is because of them that we are able to “give back” to the community! The following contributions have been made thus far in the year 2012:
- $1200 to St. John’s Outreach Committee
- $1000 to the Heart Mountain Volunteer Medical Clinic
- $ 200 to the March of Dimes (Justine’s Drive)
- $ 500 to EACH of the following:
- Habitat for Humanity
- Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Northwest WY
- Boys & Girls Club of Park County
- Loaves and Fishes
- Crisis Intervention Services
- Powell Valley Hospice
- Northwest WY Family Planning
- Thomas the Apostle Center
- Powell Council of Community Services for Christmas Baskets
- $ 100 for the Community Thanksgiving Dinner
Science seeks the elegant, elusive simplicity of the universe itself
Since the time of Newton, science has advanced by a strategy rightly called “reductionism.” This method, which explains things by analyzing them into smaller and simpler parts, has yielded a rich harvest of discoveries about the natural world. As a means of analysis, then, reductionism has certainly proven its value. But many wonder whether science is reductive in a more radical and disturbing way—by flattening, collapsing, and trivializing the world. For all its intellectual accomplishments, does science end up taking our sense of reality down several notches? One could well get that impression from perusing the writings of certain scientists. Francis Crick famously asserted that human life is “no more than the behavior of . . . nerve cells and their associated molecules.” Marvin Minsky, a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence, once described people as “machines made of meat.” Neuroscientist Giulio Giorelli announced that “we have a soul, but it is made up of many tiny robots.” And biologist Charles Zuker has concluded that “in essence, we are nothing but a big fly.”