A Spirituality of Getting Free
by Pastor Allison

Then the Lord said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their slavedrivers. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians.’  
- Exodus 3:7-8a

The story of the Exodus – the story of God delivering God’s people from the clutches of oppression – is arguably the most central, guiding story of Jewish spirituality, and therefore the most central, guiding story of the spirituality of Jesus.  Metaphorically, the story is timeless.  Oppression runs rampant in our world today, and the need for getting free from its clutches is stronger than ever.  As a congregation that is largely privileged, it is tempting to think of other people as the ones who are oppressed and in need of liberation.  However, the toxic culture of white supremacy oppresses all of us, albeit in different and disproportionate ways.  Even as largely privileged people, white supremacy culture disconnects us from ourselves, one another, and the divine source of all things.  Over time, this disconnection contributes to despair, hopelessness, self-loathing, isolation, pain, suffering, addiction, depression, and more.  We, too, are in need of the liberation that God offers.  Just as we are simultaneously sinner and saint, we are also simultaneously oppressor and oppressed.  We need both forgiveness and comfort, repentance and healing.  

In her article, “White Supremacy Culture: Still Here,” Tema Okun discusses the differing impacts of our cultural norms on different groups of people.  She shows how white supremacy is an oppression from which we all need to get free:

“White supremacy culture always operates to target Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities and individuals while in theory “benefitting” white communities and people. My current position is that this culture and its characteristics are toxic to all of us. They are damaging because they are self-perpetuating and promote white supremacy thinking and White Supremacy Culture:  behavior, which is the source of our social, mental, emotional, and material disconnect. I am not suggesting that the harm white supremacy culture inflicts on white communities or white individuals is similar to or proportional to or comparable to the harm it inflicts on BIPOC communities and people. I am suggesting that white supremacy culture harms us all.

“White supremacy culture invites white people into a silencing, a numbing, and a disconnection from our basic humanity in service of a false safety based on the idea that those of us who are white are both better and normal. Being encouraged into this ideology might offer short-term satisfaction and material gain, yet I agree with public theologian Ruby Sales, who tells us that “whiteness is a death sentence.” We see this death sentence reflected in the extremely high addiction, suicide, and depression rates in the white community. The generational legacy and price of gain based on the psychic, mental, physical, and spiritual violation of others is a heavy one.

“White supremacy culture also promises to reward BIPOC communities and people who collude in an effort to survive; the encouragement to assimilate and adapt to these characteristics often promises the illusion of safety while in reality rarely doing so. Whatever safety is offered can be and is bought at the expense of authentic relationship with community and self. Whatever safety is offered is ripped away whenever a community or person begins to speak and act with integrity about the racist realities of white supremacy culture.” – Tema Okun
Happy Birthday to those born March 18-24:
  • Harrison Radde, 3/21
  • Cathie Knobel, 3/22
We apologize for any omissions. If your birthday, anniversary, or new intention on the prayer list is not included, please contact to be added. Please also let us know of any personal or family milestones, including happy occasions or serious lifecycle events that you would like to share with the St. John's community.
Mission & Vision Small Group Discussions
For four weeks during Lent, our Mission & Vision Team is hosting small group discussions after worship from 10:45 to 11:45 am.  The purpose of these conversations will be to receive input from the congregation (both members and non-members) on our draft Strategic Plan, which includes a new vision statement, mission statement, core values, and goals.  The dates of the remaining meetings are March 20, March 27, and April 3.  The meetings will take place in the conference room off the Fellowship Hall (or via Zoom if needed), and you are encouraged to bring your coffee hour treats!  Each participant in the congregation is invited to attend one of these small group discussions.  We are very interested in your perspective and feedback!
Mask Update
In light of new CDC and Metro Chicago Synod guidelines, masks are now optional for activities at St. John’s with the important exceptions of worship and youth programming.  Worship leaders, including cantors/song leaders, may now remove masks while leading, but the congregation will remain masked and socially distanced from leaders.  If you have any questions or concerns about our current policy, please contact our Re-Entry Team (Pastor Allison, Michel Hauser, Al Swanson, Christi Wise). 
Wednesdays in Lent
Our journey to the cross continues each Wednesday during Lent with Holden Evening Prayer at 6:00 pm in the sanctuary, followed by a soup supper in the Fellowship Hall.  The Wednesday evening services will also be streamed online for those who would like to participate on Zoom.
Visitors for Sarah
Sarah Rink, a regular participant at the Saturday service and now a participant in Sunday morning services, is looking for folks who would be willing to visit her in her home (1900 Wilmette Ave. #2F).  She is experiencing chronic pain, and having visitors would be a great blessing in her life.  She is open to hosting visitors at 4:00 or 5:00 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.  Sarah is fully vaccinated and happy to wear a mask if that is preferred.  Please give her a call at 847-251-2758 to let her know when you can stop by!
Sesquicentennial Interfaith Prayer Service
In Unity and Faith: A Community Prayer Gathering to Celebrate the Sesquicentennial of the Village of Wilmette
     +  Monday, March 28, 2022, 7:00-8:15 pm
     +  St. Joseph’s Catholic Church (1747 Lake Ave. Wilmette, IL)
Join members of more than ten of Wilmette’s faith communities to celebrate where we have been and offer prayers for what Wilmette may become in the next 150 years. The program will include greetings from Wilmette President Plunkett, an interfaith choir, offerings from five different religions, and the religious history of Wilmette.  The program will focus on the unity in our diversity and our call to become more welcoming to all. We invite people of all religious, secular, and spiritual identities to participate in person at St. Joseph Catholic Church or to view the program live on St. Joseph’s YouTube channel.
Sunday, March 20
9:30 am  Hybrid Worship with Hybrid Children’s Church
10:30 am  Coffee Hour
10:45 am  Hybrid Mission & Vision Discussion

Tuesday, March 22
11:00 am  Zoom-only Bible Study

Wednesday, March 23
6:00 pm  Hybrid Lenten Worship
6:30 pm  Soup Supper

Thursday, March 24
12:00 pm  Zoom-only Men’s Lunch

Friday, March 25
2:00 pm  Handbell Choir Rehearsal

Sunday, March 27
9:30 am  Hybrid Worship with Hybrid Children’s Church
10:30 am  Coffee Hour
10:45 am  Mission & Vision Discussion
Sunday Sermon Video

If you missed last week's service or want to watch it again, you can view it here.
Second Sunday in Lent
Midweek Service: Holden Evening Prayer
Preaching & Presiding Minister:  The Rev. Allison Bengfort
Assisting Minister:  Greg Oreskovich
Interim Music Director & Organist:  Christine Kraemer
Cantor:  Richard Rusz
Carillon Ringer:  St. John's Handbell Choir
Minister of the Word:  Alla Rusz
Children's Church:  Student Pastor Derek Stienmetz
Usher:  Peter Hauser
Altar Guild:  Susan Crist
Livestream Camera Operator:  Aidan Maglocci
Zoom Host:  Linda Bengfort
Coffee Hour Host:  Jan Wendel
Through your investment in this community, we can continue to grow in love and life together. 
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St John's Lutheran Church
1235 Wilmette Ave. Wilmette, IL 60091

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St. John's Lutheran church · 1235 Wilmette Ave · Wilmette, IL 60091-2557 · USA

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