Friday, October 25 2019
Light shines in the darkness for the upright; *
Our stewardship campaign for this year is Shining our Light. “At its heart, stewardship is an invitation to journey into God’s abundance. And for most of us, the journey to generosity is just that — a journey. It is human nature to fear not having enough. Yet God’s story and our story collide and we experience something different. God invites us to taste and see what God is doing in our lives and to consider what God is entrusting to our care. In journeying to generosity, we are invited to become co-creators with God. When we move away from scarcity and self, we can begin to focus on what God has entrusted to us; we can see more fully how God is acting in our lives and in our world. In a culture that values our own enlightened self-interest over the needs of others, it is not always an easy journey, yet the gifts that await us when we truly step into community and into deep relationship with God are abundant.
“All of us are called to be stewards. We are stewards of God’s creation, stewards of our families, stewards of money, stewards of time, stewards of our churches, and stewards of the faith that has been handed down to us, the faith that so many generations before us have stewarded. As we travel with God, we begin to recognize those places in our lives where God is calling us, as God called the Israelites, to step forth in faith into new and unknown places. It can feel risky to let go of the familiar, the safe, the known. And yet, when we let go, when we invite God more fully into our lives, the journey cannot help but be one that transforms us, taking us out of our places of bondage, into new, generous and abundant life” (TENS). Psalm 112 speaks eloquently about our call to be merciful, compassionate, and to seek justice. This year our Stewardship Campaign will begin with several parishioners witnessing about what God is doing with their lives at St. John’s. Last week Dave Lasek talked about the wonderful community of St. John’s.
You will receive a pledge card in the mail this week and I ask you to prayerfully consider the gifts that you receive and ask you to give to St. John's on a proportional basis. If you have not received a pledge card yet, they are available on the table in the back of the church. We will collect pledge cards for the next two Sundays and bless them at the altar. Each week you will hear parishioners witness about what they love about St. John's. Please consider raising your pledge this year so that St. John's may continue to grow and flourish.
I am so grateful for you. Your faithful membership at St. John's and your generosity sustains our ministry and is a source of encouragement to me.
In Christ's love,
Friday, October 18 2019
“Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill” (Matthew 5:13-14).
Loyalty Sunday is November 3rd this year. I invite you to give prayerful consideration to increasing your Stewardship pledge for the coming year. Our theme is: Shining our Light. When we give generously of ourselves we begin to change into the image of God. The transformation that occurs when we realize that we are unconditionally loved by God overflows to others without regret. First give of yourself and then shine your light to others that they may know the risen Christ through your love.
Next week I ask you to volunteer at St. John’s and to invite friends and family to the Harvest Fair on Saturday October 26th from 10:00-4:00. St. John’s has been doing ministry in Huntington for 274 years and we know that what Christ is doing here is vitally important. Our ECW will support Long Island Cares, Helping Hands Mission, Community Food Council, Family Service League, and many other vital local charities. Please participate in any way you can to this important event.
Listen to those who witness about their journeys at St. John’s. The hospitality and love that people feel when they make St. John’s their spiritual home is remarkable. My wife and I give generously because we believe in the ministry of St. John’s and we believe that we can make this community a better place through the love of Jesus Christ.
We need to continue to transform our growing congregation through an experience with the living God to an authentic faith which sends us into the world to be the light of Christ and to be the leaven that transforms the world around us. We will continue our work on racial reconciliation and justice. We need to continually grow our outreach to the poor, the sick, the lonely, the disenfranchised, and the powerless. We are the arms and feet of Jesus Christ to a hurting world.
I give my sincere thanks to everyone that gives of their time, treasure and talent to St. John’s. Your gift allows us to continue 274 years of service to this community and the world. Please drop your pledge card in the plate by November 3rd.
In a time of despair and worry, God offers hope and contentment. In a time of enmity and separation, God offers love and unification. In a time of uncertainty, God offers us eternal life. By the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we know that God’s unending love for us is real and that God’s promises are true. I urge you to see your life as a precious gift from God and to give of your time, talent and treasure accordingly. Let us Shine our Light so that everyone will know the love of God in Jesus Christ.
In Christ’s love,
Friday, October 11 2019
Wild Geese (from Dream Work by Mary Oliver)
You do not have to be good.
Jesus Christ is on his way to Jerusalem and a group of lepers called out, “Jesus, have mercy on us.” Jesus heals them and one returned to Jesus and thanked him. I believe that God calls us to give thanks for everything we have. With a thankful heart, we are able to be healed of more than our physical ailments. We are made whole when we realize that everything comes through the mercy and grace of God. Jesus Christ came that you may have life and live it more abundantly. Abundant life is a life lived in thankfulness. But that does not mean that our lives are perfect. At times, we need to share our despair with others and listen to their despair in return. We are created in the image of God to follow God’s path of mercy, forgiveness, and love. Let your love flow in your life in everything you do. Give thanks for everything you have and don’t worry about the nine lepers that did not return. The harvest is great and the laborers are few. Let your light shine even if you are surrounded by darkness.
The older I get the more interested and fascinated I am by nature. Last week, Barb and I restored our souls through a quiet week at Saltaire on Fire Island. I love to watch the birds feeding as the waves roll across the shore and the seagulls standing on one foot staring at the beautiful view right next to me. It puts everything in perspective for me. I had a wonderful week with God in creation and my family. We enjoyed long walks on the beach, visiting the lighthouse, healthy eating, puzzles, reading, and meeting old friends.
I often see twenty percent of the people giving eighty percent of their time and donations, but I don’t mind. I think that being the leper that returns is all that matters. I doubt you’ll win the lottery because you are a good person and I’m sure you are just as susceptible to disease as anyone else. But I believe that finding your place in the family of things is important. If you choose the path of Jesus Christ then you will be blessed with a thankful heart and abundant life. Robert Frost said, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled and that has made all the difference.”
In Christ’s love,
Friday, October 04 2019
I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:5-7).
Paul’s letter to Timothy begins with a touching reminder of Paul’s deep love for Timothy and his appreciation for the faith that was passed down to him by his Grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. Last week Fr. Anthony Jones talked about the presenters at his ordination. They were representatives of this parish who discerned a call in him, formed him, presented him, and willingly gave him to our sister church in Brooklyn into a new ministry. The lesson begins, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” (2 Timothy 1:1). The term apostle is derived from the Greek word ἀπόστολος (apóstolos), meaning "one who is sent off." Today’s message is that we pass this love of God through our faith in Jesus Christ and we are sent into the world in the power of the Holy Spirit.
God’s reign spreads from a spark to a wildfire when we hear, accept, and grow in God’s love. Even a seed as small as the mustard seed will flourish when it is sown in the ground. The mustard seed is the love of God that is sown in our hearts. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that everyone that believes may have eternal life. Jesus’ love is sown into all of our hearts and each of us can, have, and will do amazing things. Today’s Gospel demonstrates God’s mystery and power in commonplace events and activities. When we come to church, we open endless possibilities through God. When we listen to the Gospel, we hear a perspective that is different from the negativity in newspapers, our iPhones, the television, and our computers. God is always creating new possibilities, even during difficult times. Our mistake is not having enough faith that God is good and that we have the power to change our environments. We need to have an expectancy of God’s love and grace. While many around us are cynical and skeptical we continue to be hopeful. Herbert O’Driscol said that we need to dream good dreams while so many are having nightmares. When we hear the Word of God, accept what it means for our lives and bear fruit, we are transformed into more than we could ever ask or even imagine. Like the mustard seed, our simple lives are incorporated into a much larger plan to bring everyone to unity with God and each other.
I ask each and every member of St. John’s to participate in the ministry that God is doing right here. We need each and every seed to be nurtured into all God has created us to be. Pray for one another, love one another, visit one another, cook for one another, feed one another, cloth one another, teach one another, and experience the endless possibilities that God offers to those who love God with their whole mind, heart, soul, and strength. With the Harvest Fair coming on October 26th, we need the entire parish to help spread the faith and love of God through your participation in our largest event of the year. When you experience the love and mercy of God in community, you find the pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in the field. Your life is changed forever when lived in the expectancy of God’s love and mercy. Think good thoughts, dream good dreams, do good things. God’s love is closer than you could ever imagine.
In Christ’s love,