Saturday, February 24 2024
Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown? Will you let my name be known,
will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?
Lord your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In Your company I’ll go where Your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me (The Summons).
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). Lent is a time of preparation, when we teach our children and youth to draw closer to the one we love. At St. John’s we offer Confirmation, First Communion and Adult Education for children, youth, and adults to be followers of Jesus Christ. It is by our example of worship, study, prayer, and outreach that they will see that Jesus Christ came that we might have life and live it abundantly. We also offer prayer, worship, and a Lenten program of healthy lifestyles. Jesus Christ came that we might be transformed into the beautiful children of God that we were created to be. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Eternal life begins today and never ends. Please use these next few weeks of Lent to draw closer to the one who loves you deeply. In the back of the church, there are new Lenten Meditations from Bishop Shin. Please take one or take a Day by Day daily meditation booklet. Jesus could only meet a finite number of people in his life. The Good News is now spread by his followers. The most significant preacher in a congregation is not the person in the fancy vestments in the pulpit, but the people in the congregation going out into the world. Apostles have been transformed by the self-giving love of Christ, to do the will of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The fact of the matter is that priests come and go, but the power of the Holy Spirit to transform the lives at St. John’s goes on from generation to generation for the last 278 years. This is your generation and now is your time. Our clergy provide resources, but you must individually decide to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
Our vestry understands that the Diocese of Long Island has been losing members for many decades and that the Episcopal Church (like all mainline denominations) has lost some folks since Covid. Many folks are not physically coming to church, but worship online. We are putting together a strategic plan to encourage young families to baptize their children, confirm their teenagers, and expose everyone to the Good News and the love of Christ. If our mission is to know Christ and make him known, then we all need to shine the self-giving love of Christ to the world. Jesus says that we must take up our cross and follow him. I encourage you to attend our Lenten programs and faithfully worship God at St. John’s. We have the power to transform the nightmare that the world can be into the blessing of the Kingdom of God. We are transformed through a relationship with Christ, and we become the transforming power in the world.
In Christ’s love,