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The Chalice
Friday, April 26 2024


In this week’s first reading from Acts of the Apostles’, we come across a story that has a unique character in it. The story of the Ethiopian eunuch is a well known one in the Acts narrative. Tradition tells us his name was Simon Bachos. He is from the court of the Candace (or Kandake), a title used for the king’s sister or a similar position like the queen mother, and who probably had land and was a respected leader. Eunuchs were used by royal courts to especially protect the women of the royal household. Their condition made them perfect servants for this job as they were no longer a threat to the royal household. 

Jewish culture did not have eunuchs (in Hebrew, called “saris”) but because the eunuch was used in many of the cultures surrounding them, they were well-known to the Jewish people. Isaiah 56:4-5 says this, 

“For this is what the Lord says:

“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,

  who choose what pleases me

  and hold fast to my covenant—

to them I will give within my temple and its walls

  a memorial and a name

  better than sons and daughters;

I will give them an everlasting name

  that will endure forever.”

It is often thought that the Ethiopian eunuch is the beginning of the fulfillment of this passage. Because of the non-existence of eunuchs in Jewish society, the eunuch was always a Gentile and yet it was because of his unique condition that God seemingly knew there had to be a provision made for him. 

The Gospel reading from John talks about vines and branches that grow and bear fruit. Before, this almost always meant bearing children and raising large families as the way to glorify God. While the Gospel affirms the goodness of the family and children, it also turns it on its head, affirming those who can’t or don’t get married or have children, as mentioned in Matthew 19:12. Jesus Christ’s message expands from marriage and a family to everyone, even those who don’t fit into the traditional paradigm. It affirms that everyone plays a part in the Kingdom of God and those who abide in God and in Christ bear fruit.

Certainly, this one person from Ethiopia did just that. Today the Ethiopian Orthodox Tawahedo Church is the largest Christian body in Ethiopia with 40-50 million adherents. Christianity has played a central role in Ethiopian culture for nearly two millennia. I pray that each of us have the zealous faith like the Ethiopian eunuch so that we can take into our respective communities and bear fruit for the Kingdom. Thanks be to God!

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Zach

Posted by: Rev. Zach Baker, curate AT 01:35 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, April 19 2024


The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul:

he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;

thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:

thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever (Psalm 23).

Today we are back in John’s Gospel. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Jesus is the Word of God made flesh that we might know that Jesus is our redeemer, God’s son. John uses the metaphor of the good shepherd that we might understand the relationship between us and our Lord. God came to us that we might have abundant life in him. We are called into relationship with Jesus Christ through the breaking of Bread and the scriptures. Jesus, the good shepherd will walk with us through these troubled times and into the higher plane of the Beloved Community if we will stop to hear his voice.

This week, we will say Psalm 23. We profess our loyalty to God. God provides life and security. God is all we need! We shall lack nothing if we follow our shepherd. This is a way of being. Put your trust in God. Palestine is a desert and the sheep need to be led to green grass to eat and water to drink. This means that we will have sustenance (food and drink) from God. It means to be safe from harm. God keeps me alive. We depend solely on God. God draws us to the path of righteousness and justice. While some will be selfish and gather more than they need for themselves at a cost of others, Jesus teaches us to be self-giving. We need to eat healthy, exercise, rest, and give to others to maintain our good health. This puts God in charge of protecting us from death. God leads us home from exile. Jesus shows us the way from brokenness into wholeness and from death into life. We walk through the desert to higher ground. Jesus came out the other side of death to lead us to Beloved community. We don’t end up in the desert. God’s Kingdom is right here and we need to witness to others the love in our hearts that overflows to others. That is how they will see the marks in Jesus’ hands and feet.

I urge every member to develop a deep relationship through worship, prayer, and service to the Living God. Join us daily as we walk together with our Lord at 9AM through Morning Prayer. Follow the path of righteousness that Jesus has laid before us and have your soul restored. Please know that there are green pastures and still waters ahead. Our Thrift Shop is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 12-3. We need volunteers to sort and sell our cloths and collectibles. Mary Beth and our Thrift Shop team really need your assistance! You can offer one day or come every week. Please keep May 3rd on your calendar. The ECW will be offering, “A Taste of St. John’s.” It is always one of our most popular events of the year. On Sunday May 5th we will have a fabulous Jazz concert at St. John’s featuring, “The Jazz Loft All Stars.” Please buy your tickets early and get a nice discount.

In Christ’s love,
Fr. Duncan

Posted by: Rev. Duncan A. Burns AT 01:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, April 18 2024


Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you

(Matthew 28:19-20).


This is a very special Sunday for me. My granddaughter, Lucy will be baptized at the 10:00 AM service. This is the first of five baptisms in the Easter Season at St. John’s. We are the living community of faith that receives the gift of the Holy Spirit at baptism for ministry. It is through our baptism that we are called to go forth, proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, teach and baptize.

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:9-11).

The Baptism of Jesus helps us to understand the importance of the moment that Jesus came out of the water. In baptism, it is through water and in the Holy Spirit that we become fully initiated into Christ’s body, the Church. 

Do you know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).


Baptism is more than just grace bestowed upon us. While some claim that baptism cleanses a person from the stain of original sin, it is better understood as joining Christ in the death of our old self and walking in newness of life. In baptism we are fully initiated into the body of Christ by the pouring of the water and by the indwelling of the Spirit. Throughout history, water has played a role to convey God’s action in the world. Water is not just a symbol of life for human beings; Water is life. Without water we cannot live. In the stories of the Old Testament, water plays a crucial role. In the book of Exodus, Moses leads the people out of their bondage in Egypt and through water to the land of promise. John baptizes Jesus through water. Jesus is anointed by the Holy Spirit as Messiah to lead us out of death and into everlasting life. In the “Thanksgiving Over the Water” we pray,

“We thank you, Father, for the water of Baptism. In it we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection. Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit. Therefore in joyful obedience to your Son, we bring into his fellowship those who come to him in faith, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (BCP 306-307).


We find the symbol of water extremely important in the liturgy of baptism at this parish. We use a significant quantity of water at the baptism and will often slash the children who are watching after the baptism and ask them to remember their own baptism. The Spirit is the power of God that transforms our lives to the image of God revealed in Jesus Christ. While it was once thought that confirmation was the time when the Spirit completed the initiation process in the Episcopal Church, the 1979 BCP clarifies our understanding that baptism is full initiation. The Spirit also empowers the baptized for ministry.

Church has to be more than just a place we worship on Sunday morning. We need to be a vital part of the community. God is working in ways that we can’t even ask or imagine. Feel his presence in the breaking of the bread and in the water of the Baptism. Open your eyes to the presence of the Lord in our midst, not just on Sundays, but as you prepare meals for each other, hunger for peace and justice, visit those who cannot be with us, feed those who are hungry, cloth the naked, and most of all to show hospitality to all those who enter our church. 

In Christ's Love,

Fr. Duncan

Posted by: Rev. Duncan A. Burns AT 12:11 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, April 05 2024


This weekend, we celebrate a special day in the church as three children will take their First Communion. Kay, Cole, and Theo have prepared for this day over the past few months. Many in the Episcopal Church, Anglican Communion, and worldwide Christian community do not practice a formal First Communion, as they see Baptism and Communion go hand in hand. This is the normative practice in the Episcopal Church and no child is obligated to wait, but many parents find the practice of First Communion to be a special one, as it helps their child to understand this Sacrament. An instructed First Communion offers time for children to reflect, learn, and grow in their faith. So even if they’ve taken Communion already, it’s another opportunity for children to experience what it means to be a Christian.

It was a blessing to journey with these children and teach them more about the faith and especially what the Eucharist means and why it is central to our service. For us Episcopalians/Anglicans, we view the Eucharist not as a mere memorialization of the Body and Blood but affirm the “Real Presence” of Christ within these elements. Again, this bread and this wine are more than mere bread and wine but offer for us a true, spiritual and material connection to the Body of Christ, united with Jesus Christ and each other. That is why I find First Communion to be so important. It helps us take a step back and really see and understand what we are doing and what we are consuming when we approach the altar rail.

In the class, they were able to get to know one another better. We read some Bible stories that pertained to sharing meals and being together as well as learning what the word Eucharist means. In one class, we explored the sacristy and sanctuary learning all about the different parts of a Sunday service along with learning more about vestments. At our last official meeting, the children baked the bread we will use on Sunday. That was a blast to do with them! On the day of this First Communion, Kay, Cole, and Theo are blessed to, as the Catechism in the Book of Common Prayer (pg. 860) says, “[strengthen their] union with Christ and one another…[for] the foretaste of the heavenly banquet which is our nourishment in eternal life.”

Credit and gratitude are also due to Sue McInnes and Fr. Duncan, as they also taught alongside me and led me through my first time teaching such a class. Thanks be to God for Kay, Cole, and Theo and their families!

In Christ,
Fr. Zach

Posted by: Rev. Zach Baker, curate AT 12:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
St. John's Episcopal Church
12 Prospect St. | Huntington, NY 11743 | PH: (631) 427-1752
Sunday Services at 8 AM and 10 AM
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