Sunday, June 30 2019
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25)
Jesus and the disciples have set their sights on Jerusalem. Jerusalem represents the self-giving love of Jesus Christ who died on a cross that we might have life and live it abundantly. I think we often set our sights too low in the church. We are happy to get a few more people in the pews and to be able to pay the bills. We look back at the times when the church was thriving or at times that were difficult instead of looking forward to the cross in Jerusalem. Jesus says that if we are to enter the Kingdom of God, we must look forward. If you are driving a car and look down to text a message or answer your phone, you cannot keep the car straight. Jesus tells us to stop texting and keep our eyes on the road ahead. If we are to give hope to the poor, living water to the thirsty, end racism in this country, and protect our environment for future generations, we need to follow Jesus Christ and to be guided by the Holy Spirit. As Jesus crosses boundaries in the Gospel of Luke, I ask every member at St. John’s to open their minds to the path that Jesus has put before us. Jesus will always bring you across new boundaries to a place where you can never return again to former times. If you are not sure if you are on the path look for the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control).
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples to commit their lives fully to God. “Do you not 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). We are called to walk in newness of life, but we have established a pattern of how we live our lives that is very hard to change. Will racism, sexism, poverty, homophobia, bullying, terrorism, domestic violence, and human trafficking end on our present path in the world today? Does the Christian Church live in the fruit of the Spirit and lead the path to a new heaven and earth? The church needs to stop tip toeing and start striding towards the Kingdom of God and put our trust and faith in God.
Today’s Gospel asks us to make a full commitment to Jesus Christ, who gave his life that we might have eternal glory. Last week in my sermon I mentioned that God is always reaching a hand out to us and we need to respond. “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 107). The power of God is working in many ways at St. John’s. Deacon Anthony is approved for ordination to the priesthood, the ECW is working with St. John’s Hospital, the mission trip to Puerto Rico was a total success, the Thrift Shop is thriving, the building repairs look great, the 275th Anniversary Capital Campaign is underway, and our relationship with St. Augustine’s, Brooklyn is being celebrated with Friendship Day today. Please give yourself fully to God and set your sights on Jerusalem.
In Christ’s love,
Sunday, June 23 2019
As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:27-29).
I am very excited about Friendship Day and Hymn Sing that will take place on June 30th. Alex met with the St. Augustine choir director and Deacon Anthony and created a wonderful event. We will host the St. Augustine’s choir at the 10:00 am service on June 30th and they will worship and sing praise to God with the St. John’s choir and congregation. At 11:30 am, St. John’s will host a potluck brunch (Please sign up to bring a dish to share). The Puerto Rico Mission Team will then present a slide show about our recent trip. At 1:00 pm we will host a Gospel Music Workshop. There will be a bible study at 1:00 pm from chapter 16 in The Path. There will also be an opportunity for our guests to shop at the Thrift Shop or stroll Huntington Village. At 4:30 pm we would like our congregation to return to St. John’s for a Hymn Sing with the choirs that attend the workshop. We will have a brief reception at 5:30 pm and finish by 6:00 pm.
Our relationship with our sister parish, St. Augustine’s, Brooklyn is a model for parishes in the Diocese of Long Island to follow. We have enjoyed worshiping in Brooklyn, exchanging rectors in the pulpit, hosting workshops and guests, and we especially appreciated the steel drum band from St. Augustine’s joining our Taste of the Caribbean Event to support our Puerto Rico Mission Trip. Your attendance is really important to our choir, Alex, your rector, and Deacon Anthony.
Paul asks us to cloth ourselves with Christ. Today we will sing (at the 10:00 service), “In Christ there is no East or West.” In the third verse the lyrics are: “Join hands, disciples of the faith, whate'er your race may be. All children of the living God are surely kin to me.” Our Racial Reconciliation and Social Justice Committee is trying to break the boundaries of racism that most of us don’t even see. But if you stop to listen to our African American brothers and sisters you will hear that we still have a long way to go to eradicate racism.
I ask each and every member of this congregation to treat all brothers and sisters in Christ with respect and to offer the hospitality that St. John’s is known for. We can be the new heaven and new earth that are promised to both rich and poor, black and white, north and south, east and west, high church and low church, and to us and them.
Last week in my sermon I said, “The world is filled with brokenness and separation. When the distinction between us and them dissipates, we enter into the peace that passes all understanding. When their hope and prayers become our hope and prayers, something amazing is about to happen.” Next Sunday something amazing is going to happen and I am asking each of you to gather together to show your support for the relationship we have developed with St. Augustine’s, Brooklyn.
In Christ’s love,
Sunday, June 16 2019
I pray that you put your slippers way under the bed tonight, so that when you wake up in the morning you have to get on your knees to reach them. And while you’re down there, say thank you for grace, thank you for mercy, thank you for understanding, thank you for wisdom, thank you for parents, thank you for love, thank you for kindness, thank you for humility, thank you for peace, thank you for prosperity. Say thank you in advance for what’s already yours. So that’s how I live my life, that’s why – [where I am today]. Say thank you in advance for what is already yours. True desire in the heart for anything good is God’s proof to you sent beforehand to indicate that it’s yours already. True desire in the heart, that itch that you have whatever it is you want to do, that thing that you want to do to help others and to grow and to make money that desire that itch, that’s God’s proof to you, sent beforehand, already to indicate that it’s yours. And anything you want good you can have, so claim it, work hard to get it. When you get it, reach back, pull someone else up, each one teach one. Don’t just aspire to make a living. Aspire to make a difference. Thank you, Denzel Washington
I remember my first day at St. John’s. Ford invited me to a Youth Group pool party at the home of Chris and Ann Wenk in 2014. The turnout was fabulous, the hospitality was wonderful, and I knew right then that St. John’s was my calling for many years to come. That fall I taught confirmation class and worked with the youth group on Sunday nights. Today, we congratulate these terrific youth that have now graduated High School (and College). I can’t tell you what an honor and privilege it has been to be your pastor these past 4 1/2 years. I know that each of our graduates will do extremely well because they have been touched by the hand of God. I need them to know that God loves them on both good days and bad days .I have shared Denzel Washington’s commencement speech because it speaks the truth that God has cleared a path in our lives and that we can make a difference in this world.
Last week a mission team from St. John’s traveled to Puerto Rico. My sincere thanks to all the members of St. John’s that supported us during our trip to help people recovering from Hurricane Maria. It was clear from the start of this trip that God was using our team to bring the hope and love of the Lord to some people that really needed it. When we become the hands and the feet of the Lord, we enter deeply into relationship with the Lord. As the Son loves the Father enough to follow his will, we enter into that bond when we follow the path set before us. The result is that the people that we served in Puerto Rico felt the blessing, love, and hope of God through our mission work.
I would also like to thank our Sunday school teachers and parents. We had another fabulous year and we thank you for helping to show that “our children are our treasure” at St. John’s.
My heartfelt thanks to the parents of our graduates, our youth leaders, our missioners, and to this wonderful parish that does God’s work in so many ways. So let us praise and worship our Lord, who died for our sins and calls us to make a difference in the world.
In Christ’s love,
Sunday, June 02 2019
God bring us into a new life of beauty and goodness in your creation.
The concept that we are all one in Christ in this community is demonstrated by the relationship in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The theology of the Trinity is mysterious and confusing. “The first person of the trinity is God the Father, creator, the unoriginated origin, source, Father of the only begotten Son, breathing out the Holy Spirit. The Son is eternally begotten of the Father, receives the divine nature, essence and substance from the Father, consubstantial with the Father, the Word, image and sacrament. Holy Spirit, proceeds, consubstantial with the Father and the Son, breathed out.”
Saint Patrick is said to have explained the Trinity to the Celts by using a shamrock, three individual leaves, yet still one plant. Augustine said the Trinity was best understood as the Lover, the Beloved, and the love which exists between them. Tertullian used the metaphor of the Trinity as a plant, with the Father as the deep root, the Son as the shoot that breaks forth into the world, and the Spirit as the force which spreads beauty and fragrance on the earth. Author, David Cunningham explained the Trinity with the Father represented as underground water, the redeemer as the spring that leads to the source, and the Holy Spirit as the water that we drink. “In some ways the Trinity is the first community, the model for how we are called to connect with one another, without prejudice, without inequality, without competition, and always with perfect love.”
Saint Augustine once told students who studied the doctrine of the Trinity, "Lest you become discouraged, know that when you love, you know more about who God is than you could ever know with your intellect." Jesus said, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Abide in God’s love by loving one and all. Love your families, love your spouse or partner, love your fellow parishioners, love your neighbor, love those who are different from you, and love those who hate you. Abide in God’s love by caring for the elderly, caring for the orphan, caring for the poor, caring for the sick, and caring for the oppressed. Strive to change the systems that perpetuate negativity, violence, racism, homophobia, and sexism. But most of all continue to draw one another into community through the self-giving love of Jesus Christ.
I am in Puerto Rico this morning with a mission team from this church trying to love some people who have not recovered from a devastating hurricane. We are trying our best to help some folks that have really struggled these past several years. The weather report calls for rain all week. We will build a cement foundation for clean water, repair and seal a roof, teach Vacation Bible School, and bring food and love to individuals who really need some help. Please pray for us.
In the love of the Holy Trinity,