Sunday, May 26 2019
"Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity
Last Saturday I did the memorial service for Mildred Wehr. She lived 109 years and remained a faithful member of this parish until she was taken to eternal glory. One of the hardest things to deal with in our lives is the fact that we live in a temporal world. Our bodies will not last forever, those whom we love and love us will be separated from us one day, and everything we see will eventually fade away. As we age, we constantly hope to look and feel younger, but time will catch up with us. As difficult as it seems, one day we will witness the funeral of our loved ones or they will witness ours. When we see a beautiful flower on the altar, its beauty can only be captured in that moment. Two weeks later, that flower will be compost in the soil. Jesus offers us a look beyond the temporal life that we live. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. We don’t have to wait for the death of a loved one to understand that everything is passing away in this world.
A deepening relationship with Jesus Christ is the path to the eternal. We can get a glimpse of the eternal by loving as we have been loved, giving generously of ourselves, forgiving as we have been forgiven, being thankful for everything we receive, and living life with joy in our hearts. We are Easter people because we live in the hope of the resurrection. We know that Jesus died for our sins and conquered death that we might live abundantly. Abundant life is not something we have to wait for, but is offered to us right now. In his Farewell Discourse, Jesus is telling us that he will soon be ascending to our God in heaven, but that we can get a glimpse of eternal life through faith, prayer, and action. John teaches a realized eschatology. Walk with Jesus in this life and the next and you will live in Hozho (peace, balance, beauty and harmony).
This past week our vestry had a mutual ministry workshop. They realized that everything we do centers around how we bring the light of Christ into our midst. The vestry has summarized our core values at St. John’s. Maybe you can think of another core value and send it to Coral.
Welcoming, Hospitality, Diversity, Warmth, Respect, Acceptance, Incorporation, Encouragement to Participate, Nourishing the Body and Soul, and Strong Lay Leadership.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 1:12-17)
In Christ’s love,
Sunday, May 19 2019
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
St. John’s is a diverse and friendly community. I have heard many people say that it feels like one big family when you come back to the Great Hall for coffee and fellowship. There is a feeling you get when you come to events like our “Taste of the Caribbean” and the ECW Zingo Night. The feeling many people have shared with me reflects the love of Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus gave himself for our sins, we love our neighbors as he loved us. The key to this love is that it is steadfast and universal. We love everyone that walks through our door. God loves all people for all time and we are called to love each other in a similar manner. “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7).
I encourage everyone at St. John’s to join a small group. Fellowship in a small group can lead to lifelong friendships and helps our church to carry out the mission and outreach work that we are called to do. Small groups can also provide a confidential atmosphere of support, prayer, and love that helps us to get through difficult times in our lives. The ECW, Education for Ministry, St. Hilda’s Guild, bible study, the Thrifty Shop, the choir, the Prayer Shawl Ministry, the Spirituality Group, the breakfast group, laundry love, racial reconciliation and social justice, the youth group, acolytes, the nursery school steering committee, the vestry, the finance committee, and buildings and grounds are all ministries that function as a small group. Please consider joining one of these small group ministries. Community is at the heart of everything we do at St. John’s.
St. John’s has a long tradition of providing food and fellowship. Every Sunday the breakfast group offers an amazing time of food and fellowship. If you do not attend our coffee hour after the 8:00am or 10:00am services, I highly recommend that you come back to the Great Hall (through the door by the piano) after every church service. On June 19th, our ECW (Episcopal Church Women) will provide a wonderful dinner. A group of guys from the parish will cook and serve a fine meal to all the ladies. Please consider joining us for this time of food and fellowship.
This past week, our youth joined us in celebrating the love and compassion of our mothers at St. John’s. Our Youth stood at the altar, served as acolytes, distributed the wine, read the lessons, led the Prayers of the People, served as ushers, and sang the offertory anthem. My thanks to Ford, our youth group, our Sunday school teachers, and all our children for all that they do to make St. John’s such a wonderful family. Our next youth service will be June 16th. We will celebrate our fathers, our Sunday school teachers and our children that attended Sunday school this year. We will also celebrate our high school and college graduate. Please give Coral their names, so that we can include them in our program. If you would like to sing or play an instrument, please see Alex.
In Christ’s love,
Sunday, May 12 2019
The five marks of Anglican Mission:
To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
To respond to human need by loving service
To seek to transform unjust structures of society
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and
sustain and renew the life of the earth
We are part of the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion is one of the world’s largest Christian communities. It has tens of millions of members in more than 165 countries around the globe. Anglicanism is one of the traditions or expressions of Christian faith. Others include Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran and Baptist. The Communion is organized into a series of provinces and extra-provincial areas. The provinces are subdivided into dioceses, and the dioceses into parishes. There are 40 provinces and, from March 2019, five extra-provincial areas. Some provinces are national, others are regional. All are in communion – or a reciprocal relationship – with the See of Canterbury and recognize the Archbishop of Canterbury as the Communion’s spiritual head. But there is no central authority in the Anglican Communion. All of the provinces are autonomous and free to make their own decisions in their own ways – guided by recommendations from the four Instruments: the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council.
This week we continue to look at the five marks of Anglican Mission. We are called to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We do that by sharing our faith and giving of ourselves to others in a way that the light of Christ is shown. We are called to nurture new believers. Last weekend we confirmed six of our youth and three of our members were received. Today they will receive their certificates and a bible. Last weekend St. John’s held, “A Taste of the Caribbean,” to respond to the need of the children that are still recovering from hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The event was a huge success because so many of our members worked together to provide great food, music, and fellowship. The St. Augustine’s Steel Drum Band came all the way from Brooklyn with Deacon Anthony to support our mission trip. Thank you to everyone who participated in this wonderful event.
Our Racial Reconciliation and Social Justice Ministry is working to transform unjust structures of society. I urge you to read the book “White Fragility” and participate in the workshop on accompaniment training on May 29th from 2-4pm.
The last mark of Anglican Mission is safeguarding our earth. Several years ago we installed solar panels for clean energy. That project has been a success financially and shows good environmental stewardship. We need to do a better job at recycling at St. John’s. In a recent trip to the west coast, I realized that Long Island is way behind in our environmental stewardship. I encourage every committee to consider ways to protect or natural environment.
In Christ’s love,
Sunday, May 05 2019
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).
This is a very special Sunday at St. John’s. We celebrate our children who wish to receive their First Communion. “The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament commanded by Christ for the continual remembrance of his life, death, and resurrection, until his coming again… The benefits we receive are the forgiveness of our sins, the strengthening of our union with Christ and one another, and the foretaste of the heavenly banquet which is our nourishment in eternal life”
We also celebrate our Confirmands and those Received by the bishop. They have promised with all of us at St. John’s to:
Continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread,
To persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever they fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord.
To proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.
To seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving their neighbor as themselves.
To strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity
Bishop Provenzano has asked every congregation in the Diocese of Long Island to follow Jesus by loving the ones who need our love most. This follows Jesus’ call to, “Feed my sheep.” Through the ministries of the ECW, we provide food to the Helping Hands Food Pantry, cloths through our Thrift Shop, contributions to dozens of local charities from our Harvest Fair, free loads of laundry through Laundry Love, presents for the poor through Adopt of Family, Thanksgiving baskets to victims of domestic violence, and aid to families devastated by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico through our mission trip from June 2nd to June 9th. On Saturday May 10th, the ECW and Youth Group will hold “Zingo” to provide summer camp to underprivileged children in our area. The ECW provides the means, but the congregation of St. John’s and the community support these events with their time, talent, and treasure. I want to thank every member in our parish that gives to these events from the bottom of my heart. Loving Jesus Christ and feeding his sheep are at the heart of everything we do.
Let us take a moment this Sunday to give thanks and praise to God. It is through God’s that we receive forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit to strength us on our journey, and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. “You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever (Psalm 30:11-12).
In Christ’s love,