Our last service is Sunday, Sept. 3 at 10 a.m.

Please join us for this last service of summer!

Rev. Zeigler’s Fall 2017 Preaching Calendar

During the fall, Luther will be splitting his time between two parishes named “St. John’s,” one in Beverly Farms (where he will be regularly affiliated from September through May each year) and one in Charlestown (where he is interim rector for the months of September and October, providing sabbatical coverage). So, please note carefully which “St. John’s” is referenced.

Sept. 10, 2017

St. John’s Episcopal Church, 27 Devens Street, Charlestown, MA (8 a.m. and 10 a.m.)

Sept. 17, 2017

St. John’s Episcopal Church, 705 Hale Street, Beverly Farms, MA (8 a.m. and 10 a.m.)

Sept. 24, 2017

St. John’s Episcopal Church, 27 Devens Street, Charlestown, MA (8 a.m. and 10 a.m.)

October 8, 2017

St. John’s Episcopal Church, 27 Devens Street, Charlestown, MA (8 a.m. and 10 a.m.)

October 15, 2017

St. John’s Episcopal Church, 705 Hale Street, Beverly Farms, MA (8 a.m. and 10 a.m.)

October 29, 2017

St. John’s Episcopal Church, 27 Devens Street, Charlestown, MA (8 a.m. and 10 a.m.)

November 26, 2017

St. John’s Episcopal Church, 705 Hale Street, Beverly Farms, MA (8 a.m. and 10 a.m.)

December 17, 2017

St. John’s Episcopal Church, 705 Hale Street, Beverly Farms, MA (8 a.m. and 10 a.m.)

Christmas Eve at Emmanuel Church

4 p.m. — A Family Service of Lessons and Carols (no sermon)

6 p.m. — Festive Holy Eucharist with Sermon

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Suffering Love

Suffering Love

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” Matthew 16:24

The Reverend Luther Zeigler

September 3, 2017 – Pentecost 13A

Jesus is angry. It doesn’t happen often in the gospels, but when it does we should pay attention. Today is one of those days. Jesus’ anger this morning is directed at Peter, who just last week, you will remember, emerged as a leader among the disciples: Peter, the rock, upon whom Jesus hoped to build the Church, the disciple who boldly identified Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

Ah, but Peter’s fall from grace is swift and dramatic. It turns out that Jesus is a rather different Messiah than Peter expects. When Jesus today explains for the first time to his followers that his destiny is not worldly fame and power, but instead sacrifice, Peter is dumbfounded. He goes so far as to rebuke Jesus, insisting that suffering cannot possibly be Jesus’ future. Peter has bigger and better plans for Jesus.

It must have been impossibly hard for the disciples to hear, really hear, that the Cross would be Jesus’ fate. Suffering and death are not things than any of us want to hear – for Jesus, for those we love, or for ourselves.

Surely, Peter must have wondered, if this man is God’s son – if he can heal the sick, feed the hungry, make the blind see and the deaf hear – then certainly he can do better than yielding to arrest and torture and death. I can hear his thought process now, ‘I’ve given up my livelihood, and left my family and friends to follow this teacher. This isn’t how the story is supposed to go. This is not what I want in a savior.’

But we shouldn’t be too hard on Peter for wanting a different outcome. For the truth is that the human heart longs for heroes: heroes who are strong, heroes who are winners.

The Yale theologian, Nicholas Wolterstorff, puts it this way: “When you and I are left to our own devices, it’s the smiling, successful ones of the world that we cheer. ‘Hail to the victors.’ The histories we write of the odyssey of humanity on earth are the stories of the exulting ones—the nations that win in battle, the businesses that defeat their competition, the explorers who find a pass to the Pacific, the scientists whose theories prove correct, the athletes who come in first, the politicians who win their campaigns.”

We love winners. But Jesus asks something different from us. He asks us to turn our eyes toward suffering. And not just his suffering on the Cross. Jesus is asking us to turn toward the world’s wounds, for Jesus is in fact the lens through which God wants us to see all humanity. Like us, Peter and his friends would rather not look into the world’s pain. Like us, they would rather think about their own dreams for a safe and secure future, apart from the world’s needs.

But repeatedly throughout the gospels, Jesus tells us that it is those who struggle, not the victors, who deserve our attention. Jesus turns everything on its head. All our notions about “success” turn out to be wrong. To be like God is not to win at all costs, but to lose for the sake of others. “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

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Our True Foundation

Our True Foundation

“Look to the rock from which you were hewn….” Isaiah 51:1

 The Reverend Luther Zeigler

August 27, 2017 – 12A Pentecost

My parents – God rest their souls – were high school sweethearts who married one month after they graduated from high school. My father was 18, my mother 17. They were from a tiny farming town of about 1,800 folks in Pennsylvania by the name of Newville. My dad was the youngest of eight and grew up on a dairy farm. My mother was the daughter of the guy who ran the feed store in town, my Grandpa Arby. Ours was not a Brahmin family.

At the time mom and dad married, they had neither money nor jobs. The only thing they knew for sure was that they wanted to get out of Newville. So, the day after they married, in July of 1957, my father enlisted in the Air Force and was told to report to Lawry Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado, just outside of Denver. And so off my parents went, in a car borrowed from one of their grandparents, and spent their honeymoon driving across country staying in the cheapest possible motels. I figure that I must have become a twinkle in somebody’s eye somewhere around Kansas because I was born nine months and 3 days after they were married. You do the math.

Eventually my parents arrived at base and my father reported for duty. Because he was married, they did not require him to stay in the barracks with the other single enlisted men, but rather provided him with a small 18×6 foot trailer. And after I came along, that’s where the three of us lived, basically in one room, for the next several years – in the Capri Trailer Park.

While I don’t remember much from those days, I have kept an old Polaroid black and white photo of my mom and me in front of our little trailer. I keep the photo not only as a reminder of these humble beginnings, but because it taught me a valuable lesson about my true home. Many years after the picture was taken, when I was in the third grade, after we had moved to California, my teacher asked our class to do a little project on our family origins. You remember the assignment: bring in some photos of your family, and your first house, and share a story about your personal history.

Well, when my turn comes, I pull out my prized photo of our little trailer and began to tell, in the halting way of a third grader, the story I just told you. But then, in the middle of my presentation, I hear one of my classmates say under his breath, but loud enough for everyone to hear: “trailer trash.”

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