Friday, July 31 2020
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 55:10-13).
In today’s Gospel lesson, thousands of people follow Jesus to a rural location. The disciples tell Jesus that the crowds need to be sent back into town to get some food to eat. Jesus tells them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” It seems a popular thing in this day not to be satisfied with what you have and to complain about it with one another. Isaiah and Jesus tell us in the scripture readings for this Sunday that God has the power to complete God’s purpose through us. The people in today’s Gospel from Matthew had an abundance of food and were satisfied. God provides all that we need when we follow the path of loving our Creator and one another.
This combination of the Corona 19 pandemic and the upcoming election has made this a very difficult time in our country. God has given us everything we need in Huntington and we are called to share that abundance with everyone in our community. I give thanks for our benefit concerts, food donations, laundry love, thrift shop yard sales, and all we have done to help one another through this crisis. I am especially thankful for the love and care that you have shown one another. Please continue to join us for Morning Prayer, Bible Study, Hilda’s Group, EFM, Sunday service in the Garden of Blessings, 8AM Morning Prayer on Sundays on zoom, 10AM Sunday Holy Eucharist on zoom, Coffee Hours, Huntington Rapid Response, Racial Reconciliation and Justice Meetings, Spirituality Group, and everything we do at St. John’s. God is working God’s purpose through you. We need to be steadfast in our faith, generous in our love, and patient with one another.
In Christ’s love,
Friday, July 24 2020
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
This is one of my favorite passages in the bible because it reflects the foundation of my faith. God created every one of us and we are called to be God’s children. God loves us with unconditional love and nothing can keep that love from us. I know that businesses are hurting, people are anxious, children are struggling, our nation is in chaos, and we are in the middle of the Covid19 pandemic, which has changed the way we do church. I am hopeful that there will be a vaccine this fall or winter and that slowly and safely, we will get back together again at St. John’s. In the meantime, we must cling to the love of God in Jesus Christ. Our community has become stronger and more connected because of this pandemic. I urge all our parishioners to join us for Sunday services in the Garden of Blessing or on Zoom. Please join us for Morning Prayer at 9am each weekday and feel the love of God in our community. Join us for bible study this Tuesday at 11am as we look at the New Testament in the context of the 1st century. Join any of our groups or ministries and stay connected with the community of St. John’s. We invite anyone to join us in any of our ministries.
This week, we look at a group of parables. A parable is like a box with a lid on it. Sometimes parables are hard to understand. We come back to them again and again. One day, God reveals the truth to you in a way that changes you forever. Jesus told parables so that we might look deeper into our own lives. We might think we have it all figured out, but The Word of God challenges your world view each and every Sunday. The Gospel challenges you to make the world a better place, starting with you. The parable of the mustard seed teaches us that from small beginnings great things can happen. God’s reign spreads from a spark to a wild fire 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 will make it through this pandemic if we stay connected to God and one another.
We will soon be opening a new box. It is the future of the church. Like the parable, sometimes it is hard to understand what is coming. There will be changes in our jobs, schools, churches, and every aspect of our lives. Change is a very scary thing. But what if we needed to be shaken from our feet upside down, so that we might take a fresh look at how we treat one another and how we treat this creation in which we live? Maybe God can work with this horrible situation and reveal a truth that will change us forever. Let us pray,
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
In Christ’s love,
Friday, July 17 2020
A fifteen-year-old Amish girl and her middle-aged mother were in a shopping mall for the first time in their lives. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny, silver walls that could move apart and then slide back together again. The girl asked, “What is this, Mother?” The mother (never having seen an elevator) responded, “Sweetie, I have never seen anything like this in my life, I don’t know what it is.” While the girl and her mother were watching with amazement, a heavy set middle aged, balding man in a dirty tee shirt moved up to the moving walls and pressed a button. The walls opened, and the man walked between them into a small room. The walls closed and the girl and her mother watched the small numbers above the walls light up sequentially. They continued to watch until it reached the last number, and then the numbers began to light in the reverse order. Finally, the walls opened up again, and a good looking 30-year-old guy in great shape with tight jeans walked out. The mother, not taking her eyes off the young man, said quietly to her daughter, “Quickly, go get your Father.”
I am afraid that there is no magic elevator that will get us out of this Covid19 pandemic. We have taken a survey of over a hundred in our parish and we overwhelmingly want to start having outdoor services at St. John’s. Our task force put guidelines in place, ordered the appropriate supplies, and set the church up to open. They proposed that we open for outdoor services on July 19th. The vestry voted to start outdoor services at 8AM and the wardens and Rector agreed to start this Sunday. Please register online if you would like to attend a contemplative, outdoor Morning Prayer service in the Garden of Blessings. The vestry also voted to allow the Thrift Shop to open in the Garden of Blessings on Saturdays. In both cases, you will need a mask and need to socially distance yourself from others. We ask that you bring a chair and prayer book, if you register for the 8:00AM outdoor service. If you do not have a prayer book, we will loan one to you until this pandemic is over. I would like to thank everyone who took the survey, our task force, the vestry, the wardens, and Claire. We have come to a consensus on outdoor services as the best way to open back up at St. John’s while staying safe. We have prepared the church for services when the vestry, wardens, and Rector feel it is appropriate.
Last Sunday our choir had a friendship sing along with St. Augustine’s in Brooklyn. If you missed the Zoom and Facebook Live event, you can go to stjohnshuntington.org to watch the wonderful combination of our choir, the St. Augustine’s choir, steel drum band, and some songs that we sang together. My thanks to St. John's choir, Alex and all the good folks at St. Augustine’s.
Our youth interns completed their 6th podcast that advises young people on the importance of voting. I urge you to click on the following link and listen to Jen Hebert, Jen Low, Jack Glicker, and Samantha Burns You might want to share it on your Email, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts.
In Christ’s love,
Friday, July 10 2020
Micah said, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
In today’s Gospel story, the farmer spreads seeds. “Some seeds fell on the path, some fell on rocky ground, and some seeds fell among thorns. Many seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!” It’s not at all surprising that most of the seed didn’t grow. What’s surprising is that the farmer chose to spread the seed over areas that would have a low probability of success. Why would God throw seed on a path, rocky ground, or among the thorns? God loves every one of us. God loves those who are struggling and those who have messed up. God loves orphans, widows, and the poor. God loves the blind and the deaf. Good soil can be found anywhere hearts have deep faith. God sent his only Son to bring the broken to wholeness.
In his book, “The Road to Donaguile” Herbert O’Driscoll speaks of the memories of his childhood as the passing of an age. Ireland and the world were once in a place called Christendom, when the church was the primary force in many people’s lives. Father O’Driscoll reminisces, “I think too that I was touched by what I could not then name, and even now can only grope to call mystery and transcendence…The church that I watched passing by at that time glorious and confident, even imperial in its capacity to discipline and rule... But in spite of whatever faults are now ascribed to it in a very different age, it challenged the so called real world to halt its restless activities and dare to believe in a world even more real.”
We are both led and filled with the peace that “passeth all understanding” by the mystery and transcendence of God. As churches are closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, one thing always remains constant; God always loves us and yearns for our love in return. This hessed or steadfast love is the two way bond that we share with both God and our neighbor. Giving thanks to God for all that we have been blessed with keeps us grounded.
As the church has increasingly become less relevant in people’s lives, I hope you realize that it is your faith that makes St. John’s such a special place. Our ministry remains healthy because we remain faithful to spreading God’s love. I give thanks every day to be blessed to serve at St. John’s and always strive to make your worship experience more meaningful. Our Daily Morning Prayer, Sunday Morning Prayer, Sunday Holy Eucharist, EFM, Sacred Ground, bible study, Hilda’s Group and Spirituality Group have continued to faithfully gather on zoom. This week the task force met and recommended starting outdoor services in the Garden of Blessings on July 19th at 8AM. The altar guild is setting up the flowers and filling the candles at St. John’s. We will begin outdoor services very shortly in the Garden of Blessings and we will try to add a 5PM outdoor service on Sundays. We will continue to do Morning Prayer at 8AM and Holy Eucharist at 10AM on Zoom and Facebook Live. The Thrift shop is busy preparing to have an outdoor yard sale on July 11 from 10-3 (weather permitting). Slowly and safely, we are coming back to church at St. John’s.
In Christ’s love,
Friday, July 03 2020