Sunday, April 25 2021
Friday, April 16 2021
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.
They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.
They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!”
Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them
in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:30-36).
Jesus is on the loose! As they are telling the story about the road to Emmaus in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus appears to all of them and says, “Peace be with you.” They look at Jesus like he is a ghost. Jesus eats a piece of fish and tells them about how his death and resurrection was all part of God’s plan. Thus is it is written that the Messiah is to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance and forgiveness of sins are to be proclaimed in his name to all nations. Everyone must realize that Christ died that we might have new hope and new possibilities. Christ’s resurrection was part of God’s plan to convince us to follow Christ and change the world to God’s love. We are the marks in the hands and the sides that are the proof of Christ’s resurrection.
Church has to be more than just a place we worship on Sunday morning. We need to be a vital part of the community. As we emerge from this pandemic, lots of folks will be looking to re-establish the connections that they have lost in the past year. We have a golden opportunity to show our hospitality to newcomers and old friends. God is working in ways that we can’t even ask or imagine. Feel his presence in the breaking of the bread. Open your eyes to the presence of the Lord in our midst, not just on Sundays, but as you prepare meals for the sick, hunger for peace and justice, help the naked by serving in our thrift shop, help our community through Laundry Love, visit those who cannot be with us, care for those in prison, feed those who are hungry through our local food pantries, and most of all to show hospitality to all those who join our zoom, Facebook stream, or enter our church. This week, we will contact all Lay Eucharistic Visitors and ask you if you are ready to start visitations again in June or July. Please let Coral know if you are interested in visiting members of our parish that have been isolated by the pandemic. Nancy is looking for lots of help in the thrift shop. If you are interested in helping with any of our ministries at St. John’s, please let me know. Alex will be coming back to St. John’s on May 23rd. Please let him know if you would like to sing in person. The pandemic has done great harm to many in our community and the church needs to be the loving arms of Christ to those in pain. Christ is on the loose at St. John’s because we are loved, forgiven, and empowered by God. May your hearts burn with passion as you proclaim the Gospel and serve the community.
In Christ's love,
Friday, April 09 2021
Far be it from me to not believe.
Even when my eyes can't see
And this mountain that's in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea…
So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name…
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well with me…
It is well, it is well, with my soul (It is well, Kristene DiMarco)
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is proof that death does not hold a grip on us. One day we will all be accountable for our lives, but what a blessing that we are forgiven of all our sins and are offered new life in Jesus Christ. In the song, “It is Well” performed by Kristene DiMarco, we get a glimpse of the hope that God offers us. Despite our failings and the difficulties that we face, our relationship with Christ gets us through the toughest of times. When we are tired or exhausted by this pandemic, when we lose a loved one, when we have difficulties at work, when we are fighting sickness or disease, or when we struggle with depression, it is a comfort to know that Christ came to know and feel our pain. Our faith in God’s redeeming hope gives us the strength to go on even when there are mountains in front of us.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus goes to the disciples and said. “Peace be with you.” The cornerstone of every thing we believe is Jesus Christ because he came back after dying on a Christ to let us know that death has no dominion over us. In other words, God is telling us that even though things looked bad on Easter morning, “It is well.” God’s peace is that feeling that although we struggle during this pandemic, we have hope. What Mary and the disciples have seen and heard, enables us to be in fellowship with God and one another. The peace of God is relationship with Jesus Christ and one another. At St. John’s we witness our fellowship through our hospitality to others. Even though we cannot feed our visitors in the Parish Hall, we can invite others to zoom or stream our daily prayer or Sunday services with one another. We can do that by sharing our facebook live services. We can share the light of Christ to others by sharing our concerts, inviting folks to take Sacred Ground, sending a link to our morning prayer, or praying for one another every day.
People come to us with their children and ask us to baptize them in Easter. Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ's Body the Church. The World Council of Churches defined Baptism as “the sign of new life through Jesus Christ” and described baptism as the “entry into the New Covenant between God and God’s people” St. John’s is the living faith that has been passed down to every generation since Mary, Peter, John and the disciples. It is our responsibility to teach the Word of God and Baptize the next generation. This is a more difficult task than it once was. We need every member of our congregation to proclaim that Christ is Risen and all will be well! By looking outward to others instead of inward toward ourselves, we can become the Easter people that God created us to be.
In Christ's love,
Friday, April 02 2021
“Some years ago in the last century George McLeod, returned from fighting in the First World War; a war that he came to realize was fought for no good reason. He eventually became ordained, and founded the Iona Community, and at one point he said this about this faith that we hold as followers of Jesus: I simply argue that the cross be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves, on the town garbage dump, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan that they had to write his title in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. It was the kind of place where cynics talk smut, thieves curse, soldiers gamble. That’s where he died. And that’s where we as Christians ought to be and what we as Christians ought to be about” (Presiding Bishop Curry).
It has been a full year since many of our parishioners have been at church at St. John’s. This has been very bittersweet. Some folks have been unable to connect to the virtual services and have fallen away from church. Some folks were already in the process of falling away before the pandemic. The experts say that between 20 percent and 30 percent of the members will not return to your church.
Yet at St. John’s, I get the sense that our community has gotten stronger during this pandemic. Morning Prayer, Bible Study, Spirituality Group, outreach, zoom services, streaming, Prayer shawl ministry, and in person services are all trending up. In addition, many parishioners have increased their giving to those in need. Our bulletin board is loaded with thank you letters and cards from grateful folks in our community. We have also worked really hard on racial reconciliation and have attracted many newcomers through our Sacred Ground program.
I attribute our success with the love we have for Jesus Christ and our willingness to share what we have with others. I see the most important trends so far at St. John’s to be increased bonds between parishioners, deeper relationships with Jesus Christ, a greater hunger and thirst for justice, and a willingness to go out into the community. As we celebrate Easter this Sunday and move towards the celebration of Pentecost on May 23rd, I ask you to ponder the words of our Presiding Bishop and look for Jesus in the poor, naked, thirsty, hungry folks in our streets.
My sincere thanks to everyone who has contributed to Holy Week services by giving your time, talent, and treasure. In the weeks and months ahead we will begin to assemble again in person as one body in Christ. Many of us have a pent up desire to be together in church and at coffee hour. Nelly mentioned the other day at Morning Prayer that Jesus is with us even in the darkest of times. Jesus will be with us as we get back together in church and he will be with us when we go out into the community. May you have a blessed Easter and meet our Lord on your journey, so that you may say, like Mary, “I have seen the Lord.”
In Christ's Love,
Rev. Duncan A. Burns, Rector