Blog: We Gather

Epiphany Dawns

by the Rev. Dr. Jenny Call I first learned about epiphany from childhood cartoons.  Back then, I recognized it as the “a-ha” moment when Tom the cat would have an idea to defeat Jerry the mouse and a lightbulb would appear over Tom’s head. Suddenly he had grasped a solution to his problem…at least for the moment, until his nemesis outwitted him once again.  Growing up as a low church Baptist whose major holy days included only Easter and Christmas, I... Read More
at Thursday, January 23, 2020
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Moving into the New Year—With Gratitude

by Al Cole Gratitude for the Big and Small For a few years running, I made a New Year’s resolution to write something I was thankful for every day on a sticky note and add it to a jar. On the following New Year’s Eve, I read through a year’s worth of accumulated notes with my partner. We laughed and cried as we remembered our year together. The content of the notes ranged from the mundane (a favorite food!) to the extraordinary (a promotion at work!). Whether big or... Read More
at Thursday, January 9, 2020
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A Heavenly Host

by Lucy Burnett Christmas Eve of 2014 was my family’s first Christmas Eve service at St. John’s. I remember staring at the stained-glass windows during the service and drawing my own version of an angel from the stained glass windows (yes, I took some artistic liberties). The next year, I came across my drawing whilst nostalgically flipping through my old artwork and decided to make an updated version with the skills I’d learned over the year. Since then, I’ve made... Read More
at Thursday, January 2, 2020
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A Christmas Reflection

by Phil McNeish Christmas is the day when it all began...again. On Christmas, God’s love for you and me began to be manifested in a way never before imagined. How could it be that God loved us so deeply that he would send his own son to the earth to redeem us? What father could give up his son—even for a short time--so that others could live eternally? It is unthinkable. And yet He did it. The ancient prophet Isaiah recorded the words that God himself put so well: “As the... Read More
at Friday, December 27, 2019
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Exploring Racism and Faith: An Invitation to Walk on Sacred Ground

by M. Todd Null I am not a racist.  I believe that all human beings are created in the image of God and are therefore of equal value.  But I’m also white, male, cisgender, and solidly middle-class.  These identities convey significant unearned privilege within the social, political, and cultural systems in which I live.  Maybe I benefit from racism? I am not a racist.  But I was born in the richest and most powerful nation on the planet.  A nation that... Read More
at Monday, December 16, 2019
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Sunday Supper: So Much More than Food

by Martha Keely I could report the stats of attendance and meal costs associated with our Sunday Suppers. These figures can be obtained from our financial secretary.  These dispassionate metrics do not reflect the many ways God’s grace and love shine during this time. Numbers would not indicate that Sunday Supper at St. John’s is about so much more than food. Sunday Supper is a time when we are enabled to do God's will. It is a time of healing and a time when... Read More
at Wednesday, December 11, 2019
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Q&A: Why Is Worship Important to Me?

Five St. John’s parishioners reflect on the meaning of worship for them. Their reflections continue the theme of the article “Why Worship?” on page 3 in the December Record . As you read this Q&A and the article, perhaps you too will consider the meaning of worship for you.   By Janet Johnson Worship is a two-way conversation between God and me with prayer.    Those conversations include adoration and praise, thanksgiving for the blessings I... Read More
at Wednesday, November 27, 2019
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The Font: The Place from Which We Begin a Life of Love

by Phil McNeish Not long ago, I sang first tenor in the St. John’s choir for the better part of two years. Each Sunday the choir processed into the nave side by side. As we passed through the door coming into the church, we first encountered the baptismal font situated in middle of the center aisle. We moved around it, one line passing to the left, the other line passing to the right. It always called to my mind a rock jutting out of a river with the water flowing around it on either... Read More
at Thursday, November 21, 2019
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St. John’s Children from Fall Faith and Fun Journey Group Create Art for Forthcoming Book "Making Room for Everyone: More Stories for Building a Children’s Chapel"

by Bill Gordh I smiled when I saw the art the children of St. John’s journey group created to go with the story “A Night of Peace.” The Scottish story tells of God speaking to the animals about a forthcoming night of peace. God tells the animals that when they see a mighty star in the sky, a star shining down on the little town of Bethlehem, they will feel peace in their hearts and in the world. The images the St. John’s children created—a wolf on a hill, a... Read More
at Thursday, November 7, 2019
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Saints of God: Living the Way of Love

by Pattie Ames, Christian Formation Missioner, Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia One of my favorite hymns is “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God.” I sang it almost every day in chapel at the Episcopal Day School I attended. Our rector talked a lot about saints and shared their stories. He also reminded us of the last verse of the hymn which tell us that you can meet saints anywhere. I have met a lot of saints in my day, both in and out of the church. To me, they are... Read More
at Friday, November 1, 2019
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Seen and Loved

by M. Todd Null I’ve spent most of my life deeply desiring to be seen by God.  In a bitter irony, I’ve also spent most of that time trying to be invisible. I was raised in a Fundamentalist Evangelical tradition that gifted me with many things.  It inspired my love of music and vocal harmony.  It taught me to cherish Scripture and the Truth it reveals.  It embedded in my DNA a deep respect and gratitude for the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist.... Read More
at Monday, October 28, 2019
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A Common Bond: The Gathering Band and Being the Church

It has been my privilege to be a member of The Gathering Band for the past several years. As I recently gave thought to the band and its members, I was struck by how well its makeup reflects the overall makeup of St. John’s Church. Each band member comes from a different religious background. Some come from a decidedly Evangelical religious persuasion. Others have known only the joys of the Episcopal experience. Some came from a godly family. Some are spiritual orphans. But that is... Read More
at Thursday, October 17, 2019
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On Love and Church

Love took us by surprise. We weren’t looking for love – as a matter of fact, we were looking for exactly the opposite. We were kind of hot messes, to be honest, and we thought it best to sort out our “stuff” on our own. There’s an adage about loving yourself before you can love someone else: we figured we had some work to do before dragging anyone else along for the ride. The first week, we went out for fun. The second week, we were surprised to find... Read More
at Thursday, October 10, 2019
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Welcoming a God of Disguises

by Al Cole Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2) What would it be like to entertain angels? What would you talk about? What food would you serve? …and the thought most awesome of all, what if you have already entertained them? Angels are ubiquitous in the Bible, and often come in the guise of a stranger. Abraham and Sarah once entertained angels in the form of three men, and in... Read More
at Monday, October 7, 2019
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Q&A: Strangers in Our Midst

Three St. John’s parishioners, Ivonne Fuentes-Wallace, Charlotte Simmonds, and Ruth Cassell-Huynh, reflect on powerful experiences with strangers. Ivonne Wallace Fuentes: I met E last fall: a young mother, her husband and adorable toddler in tow, asylum seekers from El Salvador in desperate need of housing help.  She was scared, bewildered by her new surroundings, still traumatized by the horrors behind them, only to find a startlingly aggressive bureaucracy shackling her and... Read More
at Thursday, October 3, 2019
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Washington National Cathedral Organ Tour

by Mike Milam "I'm never this lucky," I thought, as I clicked the button on Washington National Cathedral's website just a few days before my trip to D.C. in July hoping to snag a ticket at the last minute to an evening tour of the Cathedral's organ. Imagine my surprise when I discovered I had just reserved the last available ticket! It was a great evening, beginning with an overview and demonstration at the console, led by George Fergus, associate director of... Read More
at Tuesday, September 24, 2019
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We Remember, We Repent

By Jenny Garrett Fife ( jgfife@gmail.com ) “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin. I am a child of the South. By the early 1700s, all my ancestors had arrived in Virginia.  Some owned slaves.  One was an overseer.  They all fought in the “War Between the States.”  John Wilkes Booth was shot in my great-grandfather’s barn. I grew up outside of Richmond, lived in an... Read More
at Tuesday, September 17, 2019
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Disruption and Inspiration

Cara Ellen Modisett, St. John’s communications director for the past two years, has left Roanoke to begin studies at Virginia Theological Seminary as a postulant for priesthood in the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia . Here’s a report at the end of her first month of school. I’m on an Amtrak train heading north, back to school after a short Labor Day weekend visit home with family. It feels in some ways as if it’s been years since I left Roanoke at the... Read More
at Monday, September 9, 2019
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Pampas Grass

by Gail Tansill Lambert While driving down Franklin Road across the bridge, I saw pampas grass glowing in the sunshine and swaying in the breeze over the Roanoke River. I couldn’t stop but promised myself I would return with a camera and capture the scene forever. I passed the same spot several times again and again and yet each time I was without my camera.  Frustration grew. I would miss the fleeting glory of these coastal plants.   Finally, on a Sunday outing, I had... Read More
at Wednesday, September 4, 2019
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Fall: A Season for Inspiration

by the Rev. David Olson I can always tell when summer is beginning to wind down because my tomato plants, which I plant fairly early in the year, stop producing tomatoes. Yesterday as I stood looking at their empty branches I couldn’t help but think about how fast summer seemed to go by this year.     But seasons change quickly and with the slow days of summer behind us, it’s time to turn to fall, what is so often for us the busy season. And for good reason.... Read More
at Tuesday, September 3, 2019
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The Q&A: Where do you feel a sense of community at St. John’s?

Cayce and Anne Myers “Our daughter’s baptism at St. John’s was a day that was very special for our family. Not only did it mark the beginning of her belonging to the Christian community, but also the community at St. John’s. During the baptism the congregants say ‘We will’ when asked if they will support each baptized child in their lives in Christ. We and our daughter experience that pledge of ‘We will’ each Sunday at St.... Read More
at Monday, August 19, 2019
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St. John’s, Shaping and Changing Lives

A reflection on giving back, by Wharton Ramsey Why would someone consider leaving an endowment to our church? After all, we seem to be getting along okay, don’t we? This is how I look at it. We all enjoy our beautiful church, and on a year-in-year-out basis we pay for its expenses, including upkeep, clergy, staff and outreach. However, none of us now living paid for the initial land and buildings, and the costs over the years to hand it down to our present... Read More
at Friday, August 9, 2019
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St. John’s, the Building: A Conversation with David Tucker

This interview is the first in a three-part series about our church facility and keeping it sustainable for future generations. | by Carolyn H’Doubler “Here’s the church, and here’s the steeple – open the doors and see all the people.” How many times have we said this little rhyme to our children or grandchildren over the years? It is certainly true at St. John’s that upon opening the doors, we see many, many people, and not just... Read More
at Monday, August 5, 2019
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Exuberance, Trust and Unexpected Life Turns

At the 20th anniversary of his diaconal ordination, the Reverend Eric Long looks back over his time with three different communities of faith. Wednesday, June 26 wasn’t just a normal Wednesday for me. It was a day of reflection, and truthfully awe in the winding ways my life has taken. That is because that day marked the 20th anniversary of my ordination as a transitional deacon in The Episcopal Church (Episcopal priests are first ordained deacons and then... Read More
at Thursday, August 1, 2019
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Bach on a Thursday Morning

Marta Lemley, a parishioner and choir member at St. John's, also has a long background in church music, serving as organist for St. James Episcopal and Lewisburg United Methodist in Lewisburg, W.Va., All Saints Episcopal in Union, W.Va. and St. Elizabeth's Episcopal in Roanoke, Va. before coming to St. John's. She subbed this past Sunday while associate minister of music/interim minister of music Mike Milam was out of town, and we caught some of her Thursday morning practice on... Read More
Posted by Cara Modisett at Friday, July 19, 2019
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