Monday, March 15 2021
Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:4-9).
The mystery of the Cross, the redemptive death and resurrection of Christ, is at the heart of the Christian story of salvation of the world. Christ, offering himself as a sacrifice to atone for human sins on the Cross, reveals the divine mystery of the self-sacrificing love of God. The mystery of the Cross calls for the human participation in that sacred act, which is renewed and celebrated in the Eucharistic sacrifice. The corporate participation of all the faithful is the ideal and the norm of this objectively sacred act of sacrifice (Bishop Shin).
Lent is a time of preparation, when we teach the faithful to draw closer to the one we love. It is by our example of worship, study, prayer, and outreach that others will see that Jesus Christ came that we might have life and live it abundantly. Jesus Christ came that we might be transformed from a sinner to the beautiful children of God that we were created to be.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Eternal life begins today and never ends. Please use these next few weeks of Lent to draw closer to the one who loves you deeply. The most significant preacher in a congregation is not the person in the fancy vestments in the pulpit, but the people in the congregation going out into the world. Apostles have been transformed by the cross of our Lord, to do the will of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The fact of the matter is that priests come and go, but the power of the Holy Spirit to transform the lives at St. John’s goes on from generation to generation. God loves us so deeply that Christ, God’s Son, suffered on a cross that we might be forgiven of our sins.
We have the power to transform the nightmare that the world can be into the blessing of the Kingdom of God. We are transformed through the bread of life and we become the transforming power in the world. Please have hope that God can fix this mess of hatred, addiction, gun violence, racism, and sexism. God will transform us into the beautiful children of God, if we would just turn to him, who died for our sins. So if you have been hurting, frustrated, sick, or a little down, have faith that God will make all things new again. We will emerge from this pandemic as we emerged from our baptism, wet in the waters of the Holy Spirit and anointed to become the beloved community that God calls us to be.
This past week, Pat Ahmad gave a wonderful presentation on the children’s book, Same Difference by Calinda Rawles. If you were unable to attend our Lenten Program, I ask you to go on our website at stjohnshuntington.org and watch the program at your leisure. Our racial reconciliation and social justice committee is putting on a fabulous Lenten series on Tuesday nights. Please join us for the next two weeks on Wednesday nights.
In Christ's Love,
Friday, March 05 2021
“The love which he incarnated, by which we are saved, is to become the love which fills us beyond capacity and flows out to heal the world; so that the Word may become flesh once more, and dwell (not just among us, but) within us. Having beheld his glory, we must then reveal his glory, glory as of the beloved children of the father, full of grace and truth.”
(NT Wright and Michael Bird, The New Testament in its World)
Last Sunday, Alex, our choir, and the choirs and musicians of St. Augustine’s, Brooklyn put on a Gospel Concert. What made it remarkable was the deep spiritual content of the program. Gospel music can be incredibly more than just a genre of music. Claire told us that Gospel singing goes deep into our physical beings and I believe that it can go right into our souls. This way of thinking is expressed perfectly in the Gospel of John. Jesus says I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Fr. John said in Bible Study that there is one word that sums us the Gospel of John, Love. Paul said that, “The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us that are being saved it is the power of God” (1Cor. 1:18). Our mission at St. John’s is to feel deep in our hearts the love of God through Jesus Christ so strongly that the love of Jesus Christ exudes from our singing, hospitality, worship, prayer, mission outreach, and love of our neighbor.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus travels to Jerusalem early in his ministry. Jesus prepares for the Passover by going to temple in Jerusalem three times in John’s Gospel. The temple in Jerusalem was the center of attention for Jews in Jesus’ time and Passover was the time when Jews made a pilgrimage to the city. Jerusalem was the place that their God had promised to dwell with them. It was more than just the place where they worshiped; it was the center of all facets of their life. When he arrives he is angered by the money changers and the merchants. Some are trying to make a large profit by converting Greek or Roman coinage to Tyrian currency so that it may be donated to the temple. Others are controlling the sale of animals to be used in temple worship. Jesus can’t believe what is going on and he seems to totally lose control. He makes a whip and chases away the animals, turns over the tables and pours out the coins of the money changers. Jesus had the ability to see not only their actions, but also their motivation. This is a deep conviction from Jesus that the people of God have forsaken their relationship with God and reverence for God’s house for personal gain. Jesus is purging the temple of those who are taking advantage of the pilgrims.
Too often today, I see churches that are focused on being politically correct and as a result miss the truth. While taking the popular flavor of their cultural time, they miss the whole point of the Gospel. The Gospel is offensive to those who use God’s House for personal gain. The Gospel is offensive to those who pollute our environment for their personal comfort. The Gospel asks us to love God and our neighbor. Therefore, it is offensive to those who do not love God with all their heart, soul, and might. It is offensive to those who hate one another. The Gospel is offensive to those who perpetuate racism by what they say or don’t say.
“I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” (Revelation 3:15-22).
Today is a perfect day to hear the love of the Gospel of John and to give yourself fully to God. God waits patiently for a deeper relationship. Your witness in word and deed may be the only Gospel that many people will ever hear. Ring true to the love of God deep in your heart as our choirs and musicians did at our Gospel Concert!
In Christ's Love,