Stuck Lid, Open Tomb - Sermons Online

Stuck Lid, Open Tomb
Easter Sunday - April 1, 2018
The Rev. Dr. Ted Cole, Jr.

What is your theory of how change happens?  Do you think change happens slowly, over time, like the way the shoreline shifts after years of tides ebbing and flowing over it?  Does change happen in leaps and jumps, like the growth spurts of living things that move from one stage of life to the next, a tadpole to a frog, a baby to a toddler?  I heard a theory of change the other day that had never occurred to me before - the stuck lid theory of change. Have you heard of this?

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Join Our Team

St. John’s Episcopal Church, Jamaica Plain is hiring a part-time Christian Formation Coordinator to nurture and grow our faith formation offerings for our children and families. We are a small but vibrant, welcoming, and inclusive parish. The Christian Formation Coordinator is a key part of our ministry team, working for the rector and serving the parish, and through the parish, serving the wider community. The ideal candidate has a positive, can-do approach, communicates well both in written and oral forms, is a skilled organizer and planner, and is able to work independently.

Download The Christian Formation Coordinator Job Description

Committing to Racial Justice

As we work at St. John’s to live out our commitment to racial justice, we share some excellent upcoming events here at St. John's and in the wider community. All of these are open to the public and we encourage you to take part in as many as you can!

Join the Conversation! A second series of "Conversations with White People About Racism." -
Sundays - April 29, May 20, and June 17 beginning at 12:15 at St. John's Church

Each session includes explorations of various ways we can deepen our awareness, understanding, and responses to racism and white privilege. Plan to participate in all three sessions, or as many as you can.
Each conversation is from 12:15-1:45 on the following Sundays:  April 29, May 20, and June 17  All are welcome.
Facilitated by St. John's member Sharlene Cochrane, a Courage & Renewal retreat facilitator, educator, and author of "Who I Am Is How I Teach," about her racial identity formation as a white woman.

St. John's at April's BLM Vigil
Every First Thursday beginning at 5:30 at First Baptist Church in JP

Every first Thursday of the month, St. John's parishioners join many in the community and gather on the lawn of the First Baptist Church on Centre St from 5:30-6:30 for the Black Lives Matter Vigil. We invite all to join us for the vigil! 
On April 5, come for the vigil and for dinner together afterwards at a local restaurant. If you are interested and would like the details of where we will be dining please contact Shannon at  

Brookline Reads - The Underground Railroad program featuring Colson Whitehead
Various dates and locations in April throughout Brookline

The Underground Railroad, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, by Colson Whitehead, is this year's Brookline Reads selection. Whitehead will be at the Brookline High School auditorium, 115 Greenough Street, to discuss his book at 7 PM on Wednesday, April 25.

Our Brookline Reads programs leading up to Colson Whitehead's appearance include

  • Wednesday, April 4: A screening of the uplifting documentary Our Mockingbird, introduced by filmmaker Sandra Jaffe, at 7 PM in Hunneman Hall in Brookline Village.
  • Saturday, April 7: A walking tour of Underground Railroad sites on April 7 (rain date April 8) led by Suzette Abbott of Hidden Brookline, starting at 2 PM at the Brookline Town Hall.
  • Thursday, April 12: Judge Nancy Gertner will moderate a conversation on the economic realities of racism. She will be joined by experts in the fields of law, economics, and journalism. This discussion will take place at 7 PM in Hunneman Hall in Brookline Village.
  • Wednesday, April 25: A discussion with author Colson Whitehead. This event will take place at 7 PM at the Brookline High School Auditorium, 115 Greenough Street.

Nurturing the Soul of Justice:  A Retreat for Activists and Educators
Saturday April 7, 10 Putnam Street in Roxbury, MA from 9:30AM-3:30PM

Are you working to bring positive change in our communities through education and/or activism? This retreat offers an opportunity to slow down, listen to your own inner wisdom and that of others, and nourish your commitment and courage. 

Many of us are called to respond to complex issues, such as systemic racism, environmental injustice, economic inequity and anti-immigration. "Nourishing the Soul of Justice" offers time and space to check in with ourselves and others about the use of our voices, energy, presence, and engagement during these challenging times. 

Core principles and practices of Circles of Trust guide the retreat, including the belief that everyone has an inner teachers, an inner source of truth. Contemplative practices and a variety of resources offer support as we navigate the space between our current reality and what we know is possible.

Where: "Nurturing the Soul of Justice" is hosted by UU Urban Ministry,
located at 10 Putnam St. Roxbury, MA. It is convenient to the Orange Line
Roxbury Crossing stop.

Cost: The full cost of the Retreat is $80.00 per person. There is a sliding
scale, $10-$100; pay more if you can, less if you cannot (includes lunch).

Facilitators: Donna Bivens and Sharlene Cochrane are facilitators with the
Center for Courage and Renewal (
For further information, contact Donna at
or Sharlene at
Email either Donna or Sharlene with the following:
Home Address:
What type of activism or education are you engaged in? In what
community (or communities)?
What attracts you to this retreat?
Registration Deadline: April 1, 2018

BLM Boston live on Insight Radio
Every Thursday at 7pm Every week on Thursday at 7pm, Black Lives Matter Boston hosts a radio show featuring members of the black community in Boston who are doing amazing things.

Image compliments of SF Post

Image compliments of SF Post

What do you think?

Ted shared Andrew Sullivan’s March 9 blog post on New York magazine’s website in his sermon  last Sunday.  Sullivan references two other writers, Steven Pinker and Patrick Deneen, who offer very different takes on our contemporary world.  Are we indeed material rich but soul poor?  Individually free but communally impoverished?  What do you think?


Sharing Our Lenten Journey

Last Friday during the blustering rain storm, we had a cozy Family Night inside exploring our Lenten bags. 


There are still opportunities to take a Lenten journey with St. John's.

All are welcome to join Contemplative Prayer on Wednesday nights throughout Lent. We meetWednesdays from February 21 through March 21 from 6pm-6:45pm in the sanctuary to explore prayerful silence in community, and the ways we can support one another to enter into the silent reality of God in our hearts. As James Finley says, "Meditation is a way of slowing down so as to descend into the depths of yourself in the present moment, where God lies waiting to grant you a deep experience of your eternal oneness with God."  All are welcome, no experience necessary! Please email Libby with any questions at

Annual Meeting 2018 Recap

At last Sunday's Annual Meeting, we welcomed new members to the Parish (pictured from left to right, Iris Grant, Charlie Wibiralske, Deb Whitman, Ada Focer, Libby Gatti, Kate Heaton and Chris Heaton), elected new parish leadership including our new wardens Don Hernstrom and Natasha Seaman, received Annual Reports from our rector, Three Teams and Treasurer (which are available for pick up at church), and met in our Three Teams to set out some exciting goals for the coming year.  Our next All-Parish Three Team Meeting is Sunday, March 4, where we will take the next steps to move our goals forward with input from our new vestry which begins meeting this month.


Fake News and Real Values - Sermons Online

We are excited to begin posting select sermons from St. John's online in written and/or audio form.

We begin today by reflecting back on our Rector, Ted's, Christmas Eve sermon.  

Sermon for Christmas Eve 2017
The Rev. Dr. Ted Cole, Jr.
St. John’s, Jamaica Plain

Fake News and Real Values

"Growing up in New York City, Christmas time was always special. There is a reason so many Christmas movies and television shows are set in New York.  When I see one, I feel very privileged that Christmas in New York is part of my childhood memories. I look forward to taking my two boys to New York during this season and sharing it with them when they are older.  But I have the means to share one of my strongest memories with them now, thanks to the wonders of On Demand cable television: the video Yule Log."
Read the full sermon online or listen below.

Our chalked red door

Wondering why we write on our doors every year around this time?

The chalking of the doors is a centuries-old practice throughout the world on homes, churches and places of worship.

The letters have two meanings. They first represent the initials Caspar, Malchior, and Balthazar — the Magi who came to visit Jesus in his own first home. They also abbreviate the Latin phrase, Christus mansionem benedicat: “May Christ bless the house.” The “+” signs represent the cross, and the “20” at the beginning and the “18” at the end mark the year. Taken together, this inscription is performed as a request for Christ to bless the home or building so marked and that he stay with those who visit there throughout the entire year.

May we all continue to be blessed throughout this year!

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Whose Streets?

We had a very good turnout for Whose Streets? the documentary this past weekend which was co-hosted by The Meeting Point and sponsored by Black Lives Matter Boston, Boston Liberation Health and the L.O.C.S. Collective. 

The film was followed by an engaging facilitated discussion with a diverse group of members from around the city. Thank you to our co-hosts for making this event happen!

If you attended, or were not able, related discussion continues at the third of our Conversations with White People About Racism and White Privilege on January 21

Each session includes poems, stories, or journaling to explore various ways white privilege can interrupt our efforts in working for justice, with the goal of deepening our awareness, understanding, and actions. The last of these sessions will take place after Sunday service on January 21, from 12-1:30.  Participants may attend even if they have not attended prior sessions.


“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
― Assata Shakur

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A Reflection During This Second Week in Advent - Hope

Each week this Advent, we will reflect on a central word of our Christian tradition. This week, we reflect on “Hope”.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 - CEB

John the Baptist appears in the wilderness and cries out for people to prepare for the coming of the Lord through baptism, to be cleansed and made ready to welcome the savior! It is hard for us to imagine it (in part because we consider people who act like John the Baptist in our day insane), but John’s appearance lit up the people of Judea with hope like a Christmas tree covered in lights! Baptism is a turning away from sin and despair (of which there was much under the oppressive rule of the Roman Empire), and a turning towards the gracious and merciful promises of our God, a God who makes all things new and who renews our hope when we respond in faith.

Consider the things in your day to day life:
What can you turn away from that is a source of sin and hopelessness?
What can you turn towards that is of God, that causes your hope to overflow and fills you with joy and peace?


A Reflection for the First Week of Advent 2017 - Faith

Each week this Advent, we will reflect on a central word of our Christian tradition. The first week, we reflect on “Faith”.

“Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 - JB Phillips NT

We hear a scary reading from the Gospel of Mark today where all the world is coming apart. But Jesus calls us to faith in the midst of it all. Faith is hard to describe, but when things are dark and difficult, that is when faith becomes most important.

When we see people lying and being cruel and getting rewarded for it but we have faith in Christ, we strive to be truthful and kind.

When we see people chasing after wealth, neglecting the poor and needy and being celebrated for it but we have faith, we strive after spiritual values over material goods.

Faith is like a candle in the dark, like light that lets us see what is important and true.

What nurtures your faith day by day? 
What can you do this week to strengthen your faith?


Busy Weekend at St. John's!

Our community has quite the busy weekend coming up! 

Join us Friday for First Friday Family Night with a special focus this month on keeping Advent in our homes and preparing for our Family Christmas Eve service.

We have two busy weekends in a row coming up at our Annual Christmas Tree Sale at Loring Greenough House – December 2nd & 3rd and December 9th & 10th.  Right now there are not enough people signed up to run the sale.  We are asking ALL able-bodied parishioners to sign-up for at least one shift (if not two or more – as some do). 

The day is divided into (3) shifts:
8:30A - 12:30P.  Set-up & Morning Sales.  There is a good deal of heavy lifting required for the set-up portion.
12:00P - 4:00P.  Midday Sales.  This shift is good for multiple abilities with less lifting.
3:30P – 6:30P.  Late-day Sales and Closing.  Some heavier lifting at the end to put away trees.

Please volunteer for a shift – there is no one waiting in the wings to cover for you if you don’t act. Please Call or Text Andrew Schieffelin at 617-524-6933 or Email Andrew: or Liz:  to sign up.

Saturday night, we have our super fun Annual Silent Auction! Bring your favorite people! Enjoy dinner, drinks, childcare and wonderful company while you buy some great gifts for the holidays!

Sunday we have our First Sunday Family Service and celebrate the First Sunday of Advent and start of a new church year! 

Phew! We hope to see you there!


Good times at our Christmas Tree Sale Kickoff!

Good times at our Christmas Tree Sale Kickoff!

Annual Tree Sale at Loring Greenough House


Celebrate GREEN FRIDAY on November 24th by unloading 500 or so Christmas Trees fresh from Nova Scotia. We receive (and sell) the trees at Loring Greenough House (12 South St).  The time is always difficult to pinpoint, but generally the truck arrives between 4:00PM and 6:00PM.  It takes a crew of 8-10 volunteers about 2 hours to unload and put away the trees.  Last year we had a great crew that included SJC youth, elders, friends and family.  Andrew’s brother came from RI to help and Alison’s mother came all the way from England because they heard how much fun there was to be had!

Warm-up Weekend November 25th & 26th!  The sale starts the weekend after Thanksgiving.  We need a few volunteers the first weekend (it’s a little slow but generally worthwhile), and continues Saturdays and Sundays in December until we sell out.  Sale hours are Saturday & Sunday 10AM – 6PM.  Setup starts at 8:30.  The time commitment for a shift is generally 3-4 hours (8:30AM to Noon, Noon to 400PM, 3:30PM to 6:30PM).  No experience is necessary, there are tasks for most physical abilities, and it really is FUN.  If a standard shift seems daunting, ask about a partial shift or split it with a friend.  We also accept volunteers from outside the parish – invite a friend or co-worker to help.

Three Easy Ways to Volunteer.  Call or text Andrew Schieffelin at 617-524-6933, email to, or sign-up at Coffee Hour.  Also watch for a Sign-Up Genius announcement to signup online.

Buy your Tree from SJC & Tell your Friends & Family too!  We feature fragrant Balsam Fir trees from Nova Scotia in a variety of sizes and grades.  Proceeds of the sale benefit St. John’s Outreach Programs and Loring Greenough House – it’s a great alternative to buying a tree from the large home improvement stores!  In addition to being our largest fundraiser of the year, the Christmas Tree Sale makes us visible in the community.  In fact, there have been a number of people over the years whose first introduction to St John’s was through buying a tree.


Last year's tree sale was a success and also a great time!

Last year's tree sale was a success and also a great time!

Step by Step Guyana Fundraiser this weekend

We are honored to be hosting a fundraiser concert this Saturday at 4pm in support of Step by Step Guyana's amazing student services. In collaboration with JP Concerts, the show will feature violinist, Mark Richardson and pianist, James Staples. 

If you'd like to support but cannot attend, please consider donating through their Facebook fundraising effort and learn more about the organization.

In the meantime, check out this video for a closer look at their organization:

October 29 Lessons

The Collect

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Old Testament

Deuteronomy 34:1-12

Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the Lord showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, and the Plain—that is, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees—as far as Zoar. The Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.” Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, at the Lord’s command. He was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, but no one knows his burial place to this day. Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated. The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the period of mourning for Moses was ended.

Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

The Response

Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17

Domine, refugium

1 Lord, you have been our refuge *
from one generation to another.

2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
or the land and the earth were born, *
from age to age you are God.

3 You turn us back to the dust and say, *
"Go back, O child of earth."

4 For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past *
and like a watch in the night.

5 You sweep us away like a dream; *
we fade away suddenly like the grass.

6 In the morning it is green and flourishes; *
in the evening it is dried up and withered.

13 Return, O Lord; how long will you tarry? *
be gracious to your servants.

14 Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning; *
so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.

15 Make us glad by the measure of the days that you afflicted us *
and the years in which we suffered adversity.

16 Show your servants your works *
and your splendor to their children.

17 May the graciousness of the Lord our God be upon us; *
prosper the work of our hands;
prosper our handiwork.


Old Testament

Leviticus 19:1-2,15-18

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:

Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

You shall not render an unjust judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great: with justice you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor: I am the Lord.

You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

The Response

Psalm 1

Beatus vir qui non abiit

1 Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, *
nor lingered in the way of sinners,
nor sat in the seats of the scornful!

2 Their delight is in the law of the Lord, *
and they meditate on his law day and night.

3 They are like trees planted by streams of water,
bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither; *
everything they do shall prosper.

4 It is not so with the wicked; *
they are like chaff which the wind blows away.

5 Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright when judgment comes, *
nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.

6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, *
but the way of the wicked is doomed.

The Epistle

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.

The Gospel

Matthew 22:34-46

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,

‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand, 
until I put your enemies under your feet”’?

If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

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