Dear Friends in Christ,

We are off to a new year!

Today is the second Saturday after the Epiphany, and the gospel reading appointed for today, John 4:27-42 (NRSV) is as follows.

“Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?’ Then the woman left her water-jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’ They left the city and were on their way to him.

Meanwhile, the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples said to one another, ‘Surely no one has brought him something to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, “Four months more, then comes the harvest”? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, “One sows and another reaps.” I sent you to reap that for which you did not labour. Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour.’

Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world.’”

John 4:1-42 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible, known as Jesus and the Woman of Samaria. The section above holds in tension Jesus speaking with a woman, the woman becoming an evangelist, and others clearly stating they believe in Jesus. This story encapsulates the incarnation as one of enlightenment and expansion of God’s will for all people created in the image of God. Jesus breaks down longstanding cultural, societal, and religious practices of exclusion. With an element of surprise, epiphanies, the work of the Gospel has moved forward from one generation to another.

St. Bartholomew’s holds a place in the ongoing revelation of God’s amazing grace. This is St. Bart’s Platinum Anniversary Year, and we have every reason to pause and give thanks! A variety of opportunities to mark the occasion have been set, and others will emerge. Here is a window to a portion of what’s coming in the next few months with some events tied to the 70th anniversary.

  • Sunday, January 21, Bishop Rob Wright’s visitation. Breakfast – 8:45 am, Bible Study with Bishop Wright – 9:30 am – 10:15 am, Healing Eucharist with Confirmations – 10:30 am followed by a reception in the Parish Hall.
  • In thanksgiving for 70 years of ministry, the vestry has set a goal of raising $70,000 by way of contributions to our budget. A drop-down option is available through Realm. You are encouraged to make additional contributions beyond your pledge or regular contributions as you are able. If 100 households give an additional $70 each month, now through December the goal will be met and surpassed. I have already made my monthly contribution and invite you to join me in giving what you can.
  • Wednesday, January 31 Platinum Anniversary Evensong with Holy Eucharist. Marked to the date seventy years ago, the first members of St. Bart’s gathered for worship. Meal in the Parish Hall – 5:30 pm, worship in the nave – 6:30 pm. The worship service will include portions from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and music from the 1940 Hymnal.
  • Sunday, February 4, Annual Meetingfollowing the 10:30 worship service. In addition to regular business and community building, Sally Ulrey, Canon for Congregational Vitality and Ministry Development will join us for a Lunch and Learn opportunity to share trends in the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Atlanta.
  • A Journey through Genesis: The 50-Day Bible Challenge hard copy or Kindle, a few copies are already available at church – $15. Wednesdays February 21 – April 3 (excluding March 27) 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm by Zoom. Each day includes a chapter from Genesis accompanied by a short reflection, questions, and prayer. Start on Ash Wednesday, read daily, and gather on Wednesdays for group discussion. Genesis is a wonderful literary treasure including a compilation from several sources describing ways in which God’s creation develops over time.
  • I’ll be away May 1 – July 31. Details regarding Sunday and weekly clergy supply will soon be available along with the full scope of the sabbatical whose theme is tied to family research, preserving parish history, and exploring local geographic context.
  • Candler Formation Community coming to Amerson House. August 1 – July 31, we look forward to welcoming 4 – 6 seminarians in the beautifully spacious house located at the rear of our campus.
  • The 70th Anniversary Committee is sprinkling in a focus on long-standing ministries and faith stories from parishioners.
  • Sunday, August 25, St. Bart’s Day. 
  • Friday, September 6 – Sunday, September 8, Annual Parish Weekend at Camp Mikell. 

Mark your calendar!

I hope you will come in person or join online tomorrow and welcome six people who have taken a step forward in their faith journey to be confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church.

Following Jesus is new every morning!

Take good care, and in this season following Epiphany, keep alert! The light of Christ shines bright through stories of old. The woman from Samaria, caught off guard, becomes an evangelist, and the disciples gain further insight into Jesus’ mission. The Word is not silent.

St. Bart’s mission continues!