LIFE IS PRECIOUS

This year let us focus our spiritual journey on the gift of life in all forms. God has blessed us with a very precious gift--LIFE.

I would love to hear your ideas on the kind of activities that deepen our experience and love of life. First, let us begin with a Walk in the Woods at Merck Forest on October 25 right after the 10 a.m. service. Plan on bringing a brown bag lunch as we encounter God's creation in the great outdoors.

This November how about a trip to one of the stops on Vermont's African American Heritage Trail--Hildene. Come and see how Vermonters boldly stood up for those who did not find America the "Land of Opportunity", but a land and a life of darkness, pain, and even death via the cruelty of slavery.

Please pray about my belief that God would have Zion sponsor a refugee family from Iraq or Syria.

God Bless,

John+

20 Years Together

20 YEARS TOGETHER

Tempus fugit! This coming Sunday, October 4th, marks my 20th anniversary as Rector of Zion Church and Vicar of St. John's Chapel. We have been through so much together as a community of faith based on our relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have laughed, cried, prayed, fasted, sang, mourned, celebrated as we have lived life in all its pains and joys. I was asked the other day what I thought was a Bible verse that encapsulated our time together. My response: loyalty, faithfulness, and trust as found in the following verses.

"My child, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life, and abundant welfare they will give you. Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and of people. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."

These verses of great wisdom and insight are the generalities that are the very basis of any community, and more specifically the lifestyle on which Christianity stands or falls. These last few Sundays we have followed the book of James in which he describes how the church and its members live their life as a people who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, and therefore a people who live a life of radical love, caring, and sacrifice. Once called by our Lord we are called to be a people known for loyalty to, faithfulness for, and trust in Jesus and one another. Praise be to God that Zion and St. John's has a history of people who have stayed the course, run the race, never looked back, and kept their focus on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith. Thank you one and all for welcoming me and my family, letting us know we belong, and standing by me in all the sorrows life can throw at you, and the joy that comes in the morning. I hope you can join me this coming Sunday for the Bishop's Annual Visit, Confirmations, and my 20th Anniversary celebration.

God Bless You all,

John+

The Church as Oasis

The Church through the centuries has sometimes been likened to an Oasis. A place of refreshment, rest, nourishment, peace, and equipping inthe midst of a world that sometimes looks and feels like a desert of sadness, pain, violence, hatred, and exhaustion. The Oasis is the place we find Jesus our Lord and Savior. It is an image that I resonate toward.

However, in the midst of the Flower Festival at the end of August--thanks to one and all who created this marvelous event--I was struck by the image of the church being like the Oasis that holds a flower arrangement together. Each church, like each arrangement, is made up of all kinds of shapes, sizes, colors, and types: bright colorful flowers, simple greens, large blossoms, little buds, ferns, and stems. Each and every one of these myriads is implanted in an oasis which holds the arrangement together, as it dispenses water and nourishment to each and every part. Hence the importance of recognizing and accepting each other as equally important to the arrangement, as well as the need to maintain the Oasis so that all are nourished and fed. Recall that the Church was and is established by Jesus himself.

For Zion Church and St. John's Chapel the importance the Oasis--our Church--cannot be overstated. As we draw near to the close of our Stewardship Campaign I encourage you to prayerfully consider pledging, if you have not done so as yet, and help us to continue being an Oasis for our Lord in Manchester.

"When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, then we were like those who dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with joy." Psalm 126: 1 & 2

May our Lord Jesus nourish and bless you,

In Christ,

The Rev. John S. Mitchell, Rector and Vicar