By the Rev. Eric Long
Unbelievably, it snowed last Saturday. This should not occur on the 9th day of April. It was briefly the talk of the town – or at least the part of the town I was huddled in. The snow was, thankfully, an outlier; a momentary return to frozen days belonging to a former season, and, as such, it did not last. With this blip of unwelcome weather gratefully gone, we again spring forward with temperatures and spirits rebounded. This time of year feels like turning a corner. In many ways this is the case. We have finally left the cold behind for the gloriousness that is springtime in Virginia. Easter Sunday is a milestone passed as well. It was joyous, but now only another great memory, and with its passing, the rhythm of church life slows while we slide inexorably towards summer. I suppose this is because families that live by the school year are eyeballing summer breaks. Their focus is shifting. The long slog is near over, and vacation plans long-since laid no longer feel too many calendar pages away to think about. Yet it’s time to pay attention now, because summer will soon be here. Turning each of these corners makes this a fun time of year, at least for me. More sun, longer days, less hectic schedules, and a break from the hard-driving pace of regular life fit well into a world that is warm and that entices us outdoors to play.
Within the Record this month, you will see programming shifts that match the change of seasons. For children and youth, we have ample offerings this spring and summer that are varied, fun alternatives to our regular programming. Also, our Sunday morning worship times will shift as our 10:30am service will move to 10am starting on June 5 (our 8am worship time will remain unchanged). This small change of time allows more of the day to be enjoyed with family and friends, and also helps our Adult Christian Education time (which will now be held between 9 – 9:45am) to fit more easily between the two morning services. The changes in tempo of our parish life yield space for new “longer form” education offerings, such as our “Learning to Lead for Change” weekend workshop led by Jen Brothers for adults of all ages on April 29 and 30. Our Youth Sunday will be on May 22nd and will have a Jazz Eucharist and lunch as well as a special concert that night featuring our children and youth choirs. We will also welcome back a good friend when the Reverend Sandy Webb visits Roanoke as our speaker for the St. John’s Endowment Society event on Saturday, May 7, and our guest preacher the following day at all Sunday services. Finally, Martha Bourlakas will be with us on Wednesday, May 25, for a book signing event celebrating her memoir, “Love Feast.” More information about each of these can be found in this month’s newsletter or by contacting our church offices. What we have endeavored to provide is out of the ordinary occasions for growth, learning, and refreshment for all the people of our parish.
Amongst the other exciting changes coming to St. John’s is the long-awaited renovation of our Garden. Weather willing, work will commence in early May. Ultimately, this sacred outdoor space, where many of our saints are buried, will be remade into an even more beautiful, accessible, and usable natural cathedral. This renovation will allow us to hold concerts, worship, after church fellowship gatherings, and much, much more in an area better suited for each of these. Because of those who are buried there in the hope of Christ, and because of the new, life-giving events that will be available to us in this restored space, we are renaming it The Resurrection Garden.
The change of weather is but one of the countless demonstrations that God is forever beckoning us forward. The snow is behind us; we have turned the page. It is a good season, not only outdoors, but within the doors of – and beyond – St. John’s Episcopal Church.
With great anticipation,
The Reverend Eric Long, Rector