Third Sunday of Advent



Click on the event link for more information.

Date Time Event
Sun, Dec. 17 10:00 AM Holy Eucharist
Sun, Dec. 17 11:15 AM Fellowship
Sun, Dec. 24 10:00 AM Holy Eucharist
Sun, Dec. 24 11:15 AM Fellowship
Sun, Dec. 24 7:00 PM Christmas Eve Service
Mon, Dec. 25 10:00 AM Christmas Day Service
Sun, Dec. 31 10:00 AM Lessons and Carols
Sun, Dec. 31 11:15 AM Fellowship



⦁ The office will be closed the week of December 25.
⦁ Don’t forget to buy and use Scrip for everyday purchases. Kathe will be eager to help you at the Scrip table in the Undercroft of the Church.
⦁ To receive the Weekly electronically, go to the St. John’s website ( ) and click the link “Sign up for our newsletter”


Christmas Schedule

Sunday, December 24, is an unusual Sunday: in the morning service we observe the Fourth Sunday of Advent. That evening we glory in the Nativity of Our Lord (Christmas Eve). As the sun sets, so does the season of Advent: our waiting and anticipation become reality as we gather to celebrate Christ’s birth. The next morning, Christmas Day, we gather again to worship our newborn King. Like Advent, Lent, and Easter, Christmas is a season, not a day. Regardless of when the tree goes to the curb, the Season of Christmas lasts until Epiphany, January 6. We shall continue our celebration of our Lord’s birth on Sunday, December 31, with a service of Lessons and Carols. Please come and celebrate this season of joy.


 From Becky Johnson-Stewart

Thank you to everyone who participated in St. John’s Cookie Walk! We raised $2000 !!!! Special thanks to those who donated and marked Christmas items, set up, cleaned up, baked, made candy, made soup, and worked the day of the sale. It was definitely a group effort and it was fun! Also, I want to thank those who came to shop the day of the sale. If you didn’t, you missed out. God has blessed us richly.



Christmas Flowers

The Altar Guild would like to purchase 2 sprays of “live” flowers for the altar and have Flowers on Main  create 2 sprays of artificial flowers to be placed on tables.  These arrangements could be used until Spring 2018.  We would, also, purchase a few poinsettias.  All purchase of flowers will be paid with congregational contributions and Altar Guild flower memorials.

Please consider donating towards Christmas flowers. If giving by check, write “flowers” in the Memo line.


From the Senior Warden: Joyful News!

The Vestry of St. John’s Episcopal Church has issued an invitation to a candidate to be our new rector. He has accepted, and the Letter of Agreement has been signed by all concerned parties.

Our new rector-to-be asks that we not announce his name or give out any details about him until he has the opportunity to notify his current parish, which will be shortly after Christmas. Because of the nature of social media, if we publish the name or give out potentially identifying details now, the news could easily spread to his church before he has the opportunity to tell them. We do not want such to happen. As you can deduce from this announcement, our new rector is male, but since a relatively large proportion of Episcopal priests are male, that much information should not be a giveaway.

Our new rector will be living in the apartment above the parish house, at least initially. A team led by John Stewart and Dave Kendell will be preparing the parish house apartment. Corky Vance is working hard on the rector’s office, patching and painting. We want everything spruced up and ready for our priest’s arrival.

The starting date for our new rector is February 1, 2018. Kent Anderson has graciously agreed to continue as St. John’s supply priest through January. We owe him great gratitude for his generous giving of himself, far above that officially contracted. Thank you Kent!

Many, many thanks also to the St. John’s Search Committee for their hard work, their dedication, their struggle and discernment. Please be sure to thank each of them: John Stewart, Haley Lammer-Heindel, Dave Kendell, Ally O’Rourke, Vivian Roberts, Janet Vance, Dave Vanderah, and Cathy Esser-Crans (who replaced Cindy Ernzen).

This time of anticipation for our rector’s arrival is wonderfully suited for the season of Advent—the season of waiting, anticipation, and preparation. As we prepare the church and parish house, let us also prepare ourselves, both as a congregation and as individuals. Continue in prayer for St. John’s, for our new rector, for God’s work in our midst, and for our willingness to grow as the Body of Christ.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Thanks be to God.

Elizabeth Leeper


From the Bishop: Friday, December 1, 2017

“Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord! Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice;
tender to me the promise of his word; / in God my Savior shall my heart rejoice.”

As we enter the season of Advent, this rendering of the Magnificat by Timothy Dudley-Smith will be offered in many places of worship. This is the season of telling, or at least the beginning of the telling. On Sunday, Advent One, we will, with Isaiah, invite God to “tear the heavens and come down” (Is 64:1). Later we will read how the “people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Is 9:2), and be encouraged to let the law and the prophets, culminating in John the Baptist, enter our consciousness to tell us, “first stable on the left beyond the obvious.” There we will find the source of that great light. God in Jesus, “the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood,” as Eugene Peterson paraphrases John 1:14 in The Message.

It is story-telling time. And we do it with glad hearts inspired by the Christmas story. However, I run ahead of myself for I want to do justice to Advent. This year, of course, the month of December contains within itself all four weeks of Advent. That comes at a cost. Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday and so the dilemma is raised—can’t we merge one season’s final Sunday (Advent 4) with the beginning of another (Christmas is Christmas Eve/Day through Christmas I this year)? It really makes it difficult to get the troops to spend that Sunday lunch and afternoon “greening the Church”—swapping the décor. And after all, people can only be expected to come to church once on any given Sunday, can’t they? I have already received these kind of arguments (or justifications) for blending the seasons.

My response is—do not yield to the temptation. Do not short-change the story. Perhaps be even darker on Sunday morning of Advent Four—contemplate deeply on the urgency of our dark times. Let us give voice to the things that are gnawing at us for which there seems little hope. And into that volatility, uncertainty, confusion and ambiguity (or VUCA as Bishop Doyle names it in A Generous Community: Being the Church in a New Missionary Age), let us place in their divinely strategized context Mary and Joseph and the Becoming One with the name that means “saving people from their sins.” So let “the light dawn upon us,” and let its marvelous implication of growing revelation of where our hope lies break around us in incremental power—all the way to the fullness of Light as experienced in the Transfiguration at the last Sunday of Epiphany.

Give yourself over to the liturgical calendar and reclaim this holy time. Adapt your Christmas activities to fit into your spiritual priorities of welcoming the gift of God and honoring that God hears our cries and has pitched the divine tent among us. And let curious people know why you have become counter cultural.

Advent is the beginning of the beginning. Christmas is the beginning itself. Epiphany is the revelation of what has begun. And by Lent we are perhaps so aware of the pure grace of God’s gift of light that we are ready to bring it into our internal darkness and let the process of enlightenment go deeper and more personal; until Holy Week helps us put an end to our old selves and brings us God’s newness of a Risen Life.
I am now way ahead of myself. So, let us return to the present. Advent is a time to grapple with the dark things of our world, yes, even as we are decorating our homes. It is a time to read books that challenge us in their efforts to make sense of our VUCA world, where for many authors there is no expectation of a Divine deliverer. We let the pain of our society get to us even as that same society is wringing every ounce of hope and joy it can from the story we are living as Christian people. We, however, are not oblivious to the joy around us. We see the signs of God’s approaching. (After all, in human terms, God took nine months for God to make a Savior if God was truly to empty self and become one of us). This is a time to listen more intently to the story we recite at every Eucharist, which is probably a strong reason we have become so attached to being Eucharistic communities. And our prayers are invited to carry a certain urgency and expansiveness about them.

Those who have received Christmas cards from my family know that they are not likely to reach you until after Christmas. I confess that I aim for Epiphany. Perhaps that is the right trajectory. If we want to reclaim Advent, we have to extend out our Christmas to its traditional twelve days culminating in Epiphany. We can still buy presents ahead of time. (Again, Mary carried Jesus to term, and had her outbursts of joy as expressed in the Magnificat). And we make our preparations that bring increasing light into the darkness. Yet our highest energy for launching festivities, card sending and for reconnecting with friends and honoring them with gifts would come from Christmas Eve/Day and extend into Christmas week and through the New Year to Epiphany.

What if we paced ourselves this way? Who else does something similar to that? Of course, the Jewish tradition of Hanukkah—based on a very different narrative and covering eight days—but perhaps the one the early disciples would have understood better than what we do now. The fruit never falls far from the tree.

In the peace and love of Christ,
The Rt. Rev Alan Scarfe
Bishop of Iowa



Safeguarding: Eyes Wide Open on Behalf of Children and Youth

In recent weeks, our congregation has been contemplating ways to extend Christian love and hospitality to children, youth, and their parents while also thinking through what would promote a sense of safety. An additional step that all church volunteers can take at this time is updating our Safeguarding training, which is available online. The Episcopal Church is committed to nurturing children and protecting them from abuse as well as preventing sexual harassment or exploitation of adults in communities of faith.

The web-based training, which is required by the diocese for a range of lay positions and for clergy, is available online 24/7 for those who are registered. Using a computer with a high-speed internet connection is recommended. The videos are well-done, informative, and practical, and many parishioners have commented that they were glad they had more awareness of these issues. Requirements differ depending on the volunteer positions held by a parishioner. Trainings include a handout on relevant diocesan policies, Safeguarding God’s Children (three modules), and Safeguarding God’s People, which includes two modules on preventing exploitation and two on preventing harassment. The Diocese of Iowa Safeguarding Policies can be found at

The diocese and the vestry are aware that some of the videos are quite realistic and evocative, with potential to trigger symptoms, for instance, in individuals with a trauma history or other vulnerabilities. If you are a church volunteer with concerns about how you might react to the Safeguarding training, speaking with a member of the clergy about alternatives is recommended. Concerns are handled with sensitivity and attention to privacy, and we certainly hope that no one will hesitate to volunteer out of concerns about the Safeguarding program.

In the near future, church volunteers will receive a summary that includes their user name and password and a summary of training that has been completed plus what remains to be done. The modules are not time-consuming and could be completed all at one time, one per day, or as you like. It would be great to be able to tell our incoming rector, when he arrives February 1, that we have accomplished this training. Please feel free to contact Jeannie Sims with questions or for registration. The Rev. Lydia Bucklin, liaison for the diocese, is also a resource for questions or comments.


Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.





10 David Kendell

13 Sarah Kendell

14 Mandy Enke

14 Rachel Klaren

15 Barb Culbertson

15 Melani Wong

15 Ron Sims

18 Jon VanOstrand

18 Angeliece Delaney

21 Michael Culbertson

23 Finnegan Kock

24 Allen Meurer




13  The Rev. Kent Anderson


In Memoriam

10 Barb Davis

12 James McDermott

12 Ellen Tangeman

14 Elsa Deming Broome

15 Roy Bradfield

15 Edna Henker

15 Allan Keck

21 Ralph Mueller

21 Mark McDermott

22 Elizabeth Schmid



13  Lucy (Lucia), Martyr at Syracuse, 304

14  Juan de la Cruz (John of the Cross), Mystic, 1591

16  Ralph Adams Cram, 1942, and Richard Upjohn, 1878, Architects

16  John LaFarge, Artist, 1910

17  Maria Stewart, 1879, Prophetic Witness

21  Saint Thomas the Apostle

22  Henry Budd, Priest, 1875