Friday, October 29 2021
“Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross
that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace:
So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love,
may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you;
for the honor of your Name” (BCP p. 101).
When we are transformed by the love of God, our heart overflows with that love. This transformation occurs both through our will and through the will of God. When you love because you are loved, there is more energy and more patience. When you love because you are loved, you are thankful for everything you have. Hospitality and generosity just become second nature to us. Helping others can become refreshing and rejuvenating because the love, mercy, and grace of God flow through us. We bring others to the love of God by allowing our hearts to overflow with that love. Bringing others to believe in the power and love of God is not about understanding theology. In fact, the details of our theology have caused us to fight with ourselves for centuries. We are not Christians because we think the right way. What really counts is the love in our hearts. Right thought without right actions to your neighbor is the problem that Jesus had with the Pharisees.
The Harvest Fair was a beautiful example of how St. John’s spreads the love of God. Many parishioners gave of their time, talent, and treasure. Chris Boccia and Fran Gorman deserve our sincere thanks for a job well done. They have worked tirelessly for months organizing and preparing for this event. I would also like to thank everyone else that helped out. We worked together like a family to help those in need in our community. The community supports St. John’s because we support the Community. The ECW will send the majority of the proceeds earned and donated at the Harvest Fair and give that money to worthy local charities. Please finish our work by attending our next ECW meeting and help us to support those most in need in our community.
Today we celebrate the second week of our Stewardship Campaign. Please place your pledge card in the offering plate or mail it to 12 Prospect St., Huntington, NY 11743. Stewardship should be a joyful celebration of giving back to God what God has already given us. We use the gifts that God has given us to do the work God is calling us to do. God will never ask you to do anything unless God provides the means for you to do it. You should give proportionately to God what God has given to you. If you have time, give of your time. If you have talent, give of your talent. If you have treasure, give of your treasure. God wants to bring you to wholeness in your life. Give from your heart and St. John’s will serve this community with generosity as we have for the past 276 years.
In gratitude for God’s gifts and yours, we ask you to prayerfully consider your annual giving pledge. The only way our Vestry can develop a responsible budget each year is by knowing how much financial income we can expect from each of our member households. Your regular contribution is vital to our ministry. If you have not already sent in your pledge card, make your pledge now using our secure online form:
In Christ’s love,
Wednesday, October 27 2021
This week, we sent out our annual pledge cards so that the vestry could plan the budget for next year. I humbly ask you to pray about your stewardship at St. John’s, fill out your pledge card, and send it to the office. Stewardship should be a joyful celebration of giving back to God what God has already given us. “God’s initiative is always to bless, and that blessing is never earned, it is freely given. This year at St. John’s you will hear witness to the joy that many people have found at St. John’s. I ask you to think about the joy that you have received and write down one word at the entrance to the church. We will have poster board and magic markers to collect your thoughts, To worship God is to offer something of value. We offer praise and thanksgiving not only with our lips but with our lives. The annual pledge campaign can be an opportunity to bless God and bless the community from the offerings of the labor of our lives. Through our commitment to proportional giving, we offer a pledge of thanksgiving for all we have received and for all we will become as we grow into the image of Christ” (Blessed to be a blessing).
This Saturday, we ask for all members of St. John’s to support our Harvest Fair. We ask you to come to church and enjoy some great baked goods, soups, chili and cheese. If you are available, stop by at 6:00PM tonight or 9:00AM on Saturday and help out. If you are a newcomer, please come down and feel the joy and family comradery that exists at St. John’s. Our ECW gives a tremendous amount to local charities each year after the fair. Help us, to help others.
Give of your time, talent and treasure to God because you truly believe that Christ died that you might have abundant life. When a heart is filled with the love of God, the desire to give a portion back comes from deep within, not from a rational sense of obligation. We use the gifts that God has given us to do the work God is calling us to do. God will never ask you to do anything unless God provides the means for you to do it. You should give proportionately to God what God has given to you. If you have time, give of your time. If you have talent, give of your talent. If you have treasure, give of your treasure. God wants to bring you to wholeness in your life. Give from your heart and St. John’s will serve this community with generosity as we have for the past 276 years. Both for the individual and for the community, stewardship is a joyful act for the sake of God's world. Please give joyfully from your heart. God is well pleased when we give in this manner and will provide everything we need to do the work that God calls us to do.
God’s abundance is a feeling that what you do matters and that your life has meaning. God’s abundance includes our worship, our music, our pastoral care and our physical buildings and property. 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.
In Christ’s love,
Friday, October 08 2021
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone. (Thomas Merton)
This past week the clergy of the Diocese of Long Island met for a clergy day. The bishop mentioned that many clergy were retiring and that several had taken ill this past week. This pandemic has taken its toll on all of us. We are weary of the threat of catching Covid and the divisions that have been amplified during the pandemic. I heard on the news that a whistleblower accused Facebook of profiting from creating division on its platform. At times like these, I love to refer to Thomas Merton’s famous quote. It reminds us that Christ is with us and it is all right to move ahead (even if our path is unclear). Bishop Provenzano reminded us to help our parishioners deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ. This is essential for our spiritual and physical health.
As Jesus is setting out for a journey, a man kneels before him and asks, “What must I do to have eternal life?” The Greek word for eternal is aionion. The definition for eternal in this week’s Gospel message is life from God. Jesus Christ who was, is, and will come again helps us to understand what a life in God means. Eternal life comes through the grace of God and not through our own effort. We are asked to believe that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. We pray to God and follow the example of Jesus Christ the best we can. We come to church to hear the Word of God and to be in communion with Jesus through a continual remembrance of his life, death, and resurrection, until his coming again. When we give of ourselves for the sake of others, we feel the peace that passes all understanding. This is a foretaste of the eternal life that we will experience in the next life.
At St. John’s our mission is to know Christ and to make him known. Our priorities are our children, hospitality, mission, outreach, stewardship, and pastoral care. Every year we have our entire congregation work together on the ECW Harvest Fair. We will raise a substantial amount of money that will be distributed by the ECW (women of the parish) to local charities. A donation will also be made for the continued ministry at St. John’s. I ask each of you to fully participate in this year’s Harvest Fair on October 23rd. I would especially encourage our newcomers to volunteer. There is a sense family at St. John’s that you will be a part of when you volunteer at the Harvest Fair. When we try and align ourselves with the purpose of God, we can experience this feeling of purpose and good will.
Our Harvest Fair gives each of us the opportunity to use everything we have to benefit the ministry of St. John’s and charities in our community. I believe that when we give a little of ourselves, our gifts, and our money to benefit those who are less fortunate than ourselves, we are following Jesus Christ. If we believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, we too will be inheritors of eternal life, both now and in the Kingdom to come.
In Christ’s love,
Friday, October 01 2021
“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
We hear the Gospel, that we might know more completely how to love, and when we fail – because we do fail – we are given the key to God’s heart, the key to the vast treasure of God’s mercy that stands ready for us to take. God offers each of us the key to a heart filled with true pleasure, true love. I have recently been counselling several marriage couples through a previous divorce. I spend a good deal of time with folks looking at God’s love and mercy and how to live in a loving relationship with your spouse. Today’s Gospel was not written to make people feel pain, but it can bring a former hurt to the surface again. God’s intention for us is to have companions and to share mutual love. When our baptized children stop going to church, when marriages fall apart, when priests use their office for their own selfish needs, or when family members and friends become estranged, we feel the pain of brokenness. Jesus wants us to see that in this broken world there is a life, a truth and a way that brings us to God’s Kingdom and to bring us the feeling of wholeness and the love that we all desire. Let’s keep that vision of God’s creation where even the least of us is loved and cared for. Jesus died that we might know that God forgives us for our past mistakes, but rose again that we might follow him to wholeness.
There is a lot of brokenness in the world today. My heart breaks for the young mother of three that died last week of Covid. Her children and friends cried with a sorrow that echoed throughout our church. Gabby captured the hearts of most of us because of a senseless loss of a beautiful young girl’s life. Most of us will feel the sting of the death of a loved one and the heart ache of a broken relationship. God sent Jesus to the temporal world where pain and sorrow are felt by all of us. Jesus walks with us through our pain and eventually back to wholeness. We pray every day for those who are hurting among us and it is by walking with each other at the most difficult of times when we feel the love and mercy of God.
The Good News of the Gospel is that Jesus came to this broken world, died, and showed us the path to resurrection. If you have been broken by the senseless acts of others or by your own mistakes, God wants to hold you in his arms and love you back to wholeness. In fact, God has a host of angels in heaven and a multitude of companions right here that want to nurse you back to the Kingdom of God. In this Kingdom, we love one another as we want to be loved. In Sacred Ground we say that we are working towards beloved community where we see all people through God’s eyes and not through any bias or hatred. Join us every weekday at 9:00 in the morning and you will join a beloved community. By praying for one another and worshiping God, we become whole by the mercy and grace of God. Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 KJV).
In Christ's love,