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The Chalice
Thursday, December 12 2019

Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help!
whose hope is in the Lord their God;
Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them;
who keeps his promise for ever;
Who gives justice to those who are oppressed,
and food to those who hunger.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
The Lord loves the righteous;
the Lord cares for the stranger;
he sustains the orphan and widow,
but frustrates the way of the wicked (Psalm 146:4-8).

On this third Sunday in Advent let us rejoice that we have been part of God's inbreaking Kingdom. Let us rejoice that the Holy Spirit is with us right here and now and that Jesus Christ is coming again in great majesty. Let us not think of the coming of Jesus Christ as some kind of a birthday or celebrating of a onetime event. Let us see, hear, and feel that Jesus Christ is coming into our hearts that we might follow the will and purpose of God. 

There is a wonderful energy at St. John's right now. So far in Advent, we provided resources and companionship at Laundry Love, gave out food cards to the needy, sent over 100 shoe boxes all over the world with Samaritan’s Purse,  fed and sheltered the homeless at HiHi, brought gifts for the ECW Adopt-a-Family program, made hundreds of Christmas wreaths, and received large donations from the ECW, Breakfast Group, and the Thrift Shop. Fr. Anthony Jones and our Spirituality Group led a Quiet Day, Fr. John and Claire helped me with the Advent program on Tuesday nights, we completed our Bible Study with The Path, we prayed Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, we had Children's Chapel for our Nursery School, we visited shut-ins, and today we will decorate the church after the 10:00 service and complete another successful stewardship campaign. Tonight we will enjoy our Sing Noël! concert at 7:30 pm.

We prepare our hearts to receive the incarnate love of Jesus Christ so that we may be the hands and feet of God's love in the world. This week's collect reminds us that we are sorely hindered by our sins. We have the potential to bump into each other in our busyness. We have the potential to be on our plan instead of God's plan. We forget that this season can be very painful for many. I ask you all to be extra generous and kind to one another in the coming week and a half before Christmas. We have suffered the loss of several family members and we need the love and mercy of God. Please take a few days to rest and gather the ones you love together. God's wonderful Kingdom will be ushered in a poor manger on a quiet evening. All the preparations that we do are important, but we cannot miss the whole point of the season in our busyness. God loves us unconditionally and so deeply that despite our sins, God can bring this world to peace, hope, love, and joy through the incarnation of a little baby on Christmas again and again.

In Christ's love,

Fr. Duncan

Isaiah 35:1-10

James 5:7-10

Matthew 11:2-11

Psalm 146:4-9

Posted by: Rev. Duncan A. Burns AT 09:23 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, December 08 2019

The wolf shall live with the lamb, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox...
They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the
nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious (Isaiah 11:6-10).

In the Advent season, we wait in joyous expectation for the birth of Christ. Isaiah the prophet gave us these words from God that we might have hope in uncertain time. The price of peace is coming to each of us that prepare our hearts. We are asked in this season to realign ourselves to the path of Jesus Christ. Each of us will have a living experience with our incarnate savior, if we believe in him. I ask each member of St. John's to draw closer to our Lord in the coming year. Please consider deepening your faith in Christ by loving God and one another. The best way to get started is to pray to God that your heart may be kindled again. Please look for the living presence of Christ at St. John’s and witness to others your experience. Please contact me if you would like to witness to the congregation what St. John’s has meant to you and when you have felt the hope and power of the divine love. Invite your friends and family to our Christmas Pageant on December 22nd at 10:00 am and Christmas Eve services at 4:00 pm, 8:00 pm, and 11:00 pm.

The peaceable kingdom described by Isaiah is coming through God, not us. We are asked to repent or turn away from selfish desires and return to loving God and our neighbor. We accomplish this through prayer, study and worship. On Tuesday December 10th, I will present a program on the Gospel of Matthew. Evening Prayer begins at 6:00 pm with dinner at 6:30 pm, and a presentation at 7:00 pm. Please bring your bible.

The St. John's Youth Group will be selling wreaths between 8:30 am and noon today. The money will go towards feeding and housing the homeless right here at St. John's by our Youth Group. The Youth will provide three meals and a warm roof on Friday, December 13th. Today is also the day to turn in your Adopt-a-Family gifts to the ECW. We will deliver them on Saturday. There is a very important meeting at 11:15 today in the Guild Room for the ECW.

Our Sing Noël! Concert will be on Sunday, December 15th at 7:30 pm. Take a joyous break from the holiday rush and join us for our annual concert of Christmas songs, carols and stories. Join us in the Great Hall afterward to meet the artists and enjoy some Christmas cheer. If you are interested in helping out, please contact Leslie Valentine.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

In Christ's love,

Fr. Duncan

Isaiah 11:1-10

Romans 15:4-13

Matthew 3:1-12

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

Posted by: Rev. Duncan A. Burns AT 09:27 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, December 01 2019

O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord. (Isaiah 2:5)

In the Advent season, we wait in joyous expectation for the birth of Christ. We shift our attention from worrying about the problems that face us to a crude manger in Bethlehem, where all of God’s promises are fulfilled. We shift from thinking about scarcity to the abundance that we have from God. Please take time to relax in this busy season and journey with all of us at St. John’s to Bethlehem.

Please join us on Saturday December 7th at 9:00 am beginning with breakfast. Rev. Lawrence Womack from St. Augustine’s, Brooklyn will lead us in a SJSG Advent retreat. Fr. Anthony Jones will join us for the program, “Preparation: Matthew’s Journey through Advent.”

Advent is a time when we love each other as Christ loves us. It is a time when we remember those who we love by sending cards, baking cookies, and giving presents. We take the time to visit with our family, co-workers and friends. Advent is a time when we give of ourselves to others as Christ gave of himself to us. We bring about the coming of the kingdom of God by looking beyond ourselves. We pray for one another and help the poor and needy where we can.

The St. John’s Youth Group will be selling wreaths ($25), Christmas cactus ($10), and poinsettias ($15) this Sunday and delivering them on Saturday December 7th from 10:30-1:00 and Sunday December 8th from 8:30-12:00. This fund raiser supports our youth on mission trips and youth events.

Please join us this Sunday for Advent Wreath Making after the 10 am service in the Great Hall. This is an intergenerational event for everyone in the parish. St. John’s has a wonderful family atmosphere, where everyone feels welcome. If you are new to St. John’s or coming back to us again, we ask you to stay after the service today and enjoy the wonderful hospitality that we offer. We serve a breakfast of eggs, pancakes, French toast, muffins, or bagels every Sunday and we would really love to have you join us.

I ask each member of St. John’s to draw closer to our Lord in the coming year. Join us for Holy Eucharist on all four Sundays in Advent. The best way to get started is to pray to God that your heart may be kindled again. Our bishop has asked us to focus on our study, worship, and prayer. Please consider deepening your faith in Christ by loving God and one another. Join us on Tuesday mornings for Bible Study at 11:00 am in the Guild Room or join me for Morning Prayer in the church at 9:00 am on Monday or Tuesday. Enjoy the Christmas Pageant on December 22nd at 10:00 am and Christmas Eve services at 4:00 pm, 8:00 pm, and 11:00 pm.

In Christ’s love,

Fr. Duncan

Isaiah 2:1-5

Romans 13:11-14

Matthew 24:36-44

Psalm 122

Posted by: Rev. Duncan A. Burns AT 09:31 am   |  Permalink   |  Email