Friday, June 24 2022
Summer has arrived, bringing with it time for gatherings with family and friends. It offers a time to relax and appreciate the beauty of the world God has created for our pleasure and safekeeping. Perhaps this summer, as we continue to live into a world with Covid-19, we will have the courage and confidence to travel – to take that long awaited vacation, to visit relatives in far away places, to cruise to ports unknown or to simply enjoy the many parks on our own little island of Long.
Sunday, we begin our own journey with Jesus, here at St. John’s. If you read C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, you might remember a moment when some of the characters reassure each other with reports that Aslan, the great lion, and true ruler of oppressed Narnia, has reappeared to fight the evil witch. Aslan is on the move! In our reading from the Gospel of Luke this week, we see something similar happening with Jesus. Having spent nearly the first half of Luke teaching, preaching, and working miracles, Jesus now hears and responds to his call to turn to Jerusalem and ultimately to the cross. Jesus, like Aslan, is on the move and from this last Sunday in June until the end of October, we will join Jesus on this long, indirect, but necessary journey.
We are on the move!
Luke offers a narrative that helps us, living in the 21st century, to grasp the essence of just who Jesus is. Lukan stories reveal not only the character of Jesus, but in so doing they reveal the nature of the Father who has sent him. We begin to see the mission which Jesus has been commissioned to accomplish. The journey is long and circuitous but includes many of the stories and incidents that are important for our understanding of just who this Jesus is and challenges us to follow along with him.
“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). It is interesting to note that Luke begins and ends in the temple in Jerusalem. Forty days after his birth, Jesus's parents made the journey to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord at the temple. It is the location of his death, resurrection, and ascension. This is an intentional journey that Jesus is on. His face is “set” with a penetrating resolve to accomplish the mission set forth for him by his Father. Jesus’ commitment to embrace the cross for our sake is a clear picture of the singlemindedness of his purpose, prompted by God’s love for humanity and all the world.
In closely following God’s call and greater purpose for his life, Luke’s Jesus uses this journey, to help those who follow him better understand his mission and what it means to be a disciple. It is a teaching moment for us also.
What does it mean to be His disciple?
What does it take to be His disciple?
As we prepare for our own summer travels, let us take some time to ponder those questions. But don’t just ponder alone. Let’s spend time engaging in the summer book study with Fr. John: Island of the World, by Michael O’Brien, whose main character, Josip, is also on a journey. Join the spirituality group as they dig deeper into what it means to live out our faith and to even expand our spirituality. Join us at church on Sundays, Wednesdays at noon or for our Evensong services each third Thursday. Being in community strengthens our own faith and resolve as we too “set” our faces to join Jesus on his journey.
Journeying with you all in Christ’s love,
Friday, June 17 2022
Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:14-21).
Resurrection is the new creation that started 2000 years ago in the city of Nazareth. Jesus reads an Old Testament passage from Isaiah in his hometown synagogue. Jesus is anointed with the Holy Spirit to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. At St. John’s Episcopal Church in Huntington you are asked to join in this ministry. Our Baptismal covenant asks us to, “Strive for justice and peace among all people & respect the dignity of every human being.” We are asked to, “Engage the Spectrum of Racial and Social Justice, Participate in Criminal Justice Reform and Healing, and Stand with Immigrants and Refugees” in order to become a beloved community. This is a big challenge, but I believe that it is our calling. St. John’s has hosted three 10-week sessions of Sacred Ground. This program is part of the Episcopal Churches commitment to racial reconciliation. This fall we will offer a session for all our participants of Sacred Ground and look towards our next step in becoming beloved community.
“Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday. On June 17, 2021, it officially became a federal holiday. Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox Court House two months earlier in Virginia, but slavery had remained relatively unaffected in Texas—until U.S. General Gordon Granger stood on Texas soil and read General Orders No. 3: ‘The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free”” (History Website).
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.
– Prayer for the Human Family (Book of Common Prayer, p. 815)
In Christ’s love,
Friday, June 10 2022
Glory to you, Lord God of our fathers;
you are worthy of praise; glory to you.
Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name;
we will praise you and highly exalt you forever.
Glory to you in the splendor of your temple;
on the throne of your majesty, glory to you.
Glory to you, seated between the Cherubim;
we will praise you and highly exalt you forever.
Glory to you, beholding the depths;
in the high vault of heaven, glory to you.
Glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
we will praise you and highly exalt you forever.
Greetings from vacation! As you get to know me, you'll learn I like to know two things about liturgy: rules, and the exceptions to the rules. For example, there are rubrics (rules) for the celebration of Holy Communion on Sundays. For the Liturgy of the Word (the first half of the service) there are requirements of the lessons proclaimed: at least one reading from scripture, a psalm, and the gospel must be proclaimed. So… when the rubrics inform the clergy that for Trinity Sunday: instead of the psalm of the day, Canticle 13 may be used, this usually catches the clergy-person’s attention as this is not the norm.
The Daily Office has twenty-one canticles (hymns or chants taken from a biblical text). They are usually paired with different readings and used at Morning and Evening Prayer. Some of the more popular canticles are well known: the Gloria is the hymn of praise which we sing every Sunday right at the beginning of the service (except during Advent and Lent). Another hymn of praise many know is the Magnificat – or the Song of Mary. The choir chanted the Magnificat during Evensong just a few weeks ago. Sunday is one of the rare days that a canticle can replace the psalm of the day, simply because the lectionary declares this text worthy: The Song of the Three Young Men – Canticle 13 which is the text at the beginning of this article.
The background of this canticle comes from an Old Testament book of the prophet Daniel. In chapters one and two, King Nebuchadnezzar rejects the God of the Judeans, and in the third chapter, he sentences three men to death for their unwillingness to renounce their belief in God. The angel of God came down to be with the three men as they were put into a furnace – but were unharmed by the harsh flames due to the protection from the angel. As any of us would do in that situation, the three men started giving praise to God.
The bible has very Trinitarian language around this scriptural incident: “then the three with one voice praised and glorified and blessed God in the furnace.” I believe the three men crying out in one voice is symbolic of the relationship of the Trinity. There are plenty of examples of how to explain the complicated Trinity: three persons, one God. One of the classic explanations comes from St. Augustine; he explained the Trinity as “Lover, Beloved, and Love itself.” I do appreciate the analogy, but as a visual person I need something tangible to work with. As I’ve been working with the choir recently, I worked on a three-part arrangement of this canticle. Alex helped to break us up into three parts: sopranos sang the melody, altos sang a lower counter melody, and the tenors and basses sang the lowest portion of the harmony. Three different notes, working together in harmony, to accomplish the goal of a single chord.
In an article from 2011 by the British Broadcasting Company regarding the celebration of Trinity Sunday, the author proclaimed that “the Trinity expresses the way Christians should relate to God; worship God the Father, follow the example set by God the Son, and how God the Holy Spirit lives in you.” As we approach this weekend, let us think about what the Trinity means to us, let us meditate on how we work in harmony with others, and how we are called to give praise to God like the Three Young Men. Glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We will praise you and highly exalt you forever.
Your sibling in Christ,
Friday, June 03 2022
Unless the eye catch fire,
God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catch fire
God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catch fire
God will not be named.
Unless the heart catch fire,
God will not be loved.
Unless the mind catch fire,
God will not be known.
There are many places where I experience the living presence of God. I love to worship God in familiar liturgy that survives the test of time like Rite I. I love prayers that I have been saying since I was young like the Lord’s Prayer. I love holy, beautiful, and magnificent spaces like Cathedrals. I love to hear God praised through prayer, chant, and song. I love to share Eucharist in community. I love to read the bible in community and discern what the Holy Spirit is saying.
But church is not the only place where I experience the eternal. I love to watch the sun rise and watch the sun set. I love to watch wind as it blows through trees. I watch wind as it forms ripples on the water and moves across the sea, I love to see waves at the ocean and to hear the melody of the water crashing against the shore. I love to watch water flow from the top of a mountain, through a waterfall and form a river. I love to stare into a fire. I enjoy the smell of burning wood, the feeling of warmth on a cold night, and the crackling of the fire. I love to hike deep into the woods. I love to hike so far and high into the wilderness that the only sounds I hear are the birds singing, the water rushing, and wind dancing through the forest.
It is in these places that I drift off from my mortal existence to the eternal truth and presence of the One, Holy, God. Time seems to dissipate as my soul emerges from the restrictions of my conscious mind to the beauty and freedom of my sub conscious existence. I don’t know what heaven will be like, but I imagine that God gives me a taste of the eternal in these and other ways. God’s eternal presence seems very close to me.
I tell people that the first step is to have faith that Jesus Christ is Lord. Faith requires a little shift from the front lobe of your brain, and that is where the experience can be lost before it even starts. This shift only occurs when we express true love and thanksgiving to God. I wish this were easier than it is, but God asks us for nothing less than our whole self. God responds by giving us a taste of the eternal. This love eventually burns in all of our senses. Our soul becomes a conduit through all our senses of the ever living God. So what are you waiting for? Go catch the fire of God’s love and share it with everyone you meet.
This Fall, we will travel to the Holy Cross Monastery on September 27th to September 30th. We will be led into the living presence of God through worship with the monks and then out into God’s beautiful creation to experience God in the changing of the seasons and in the beauty of mountains, rivers, and lakes. It will be a guided retreat with wonderful meals, great worship, and time to relax. Please contact me if you would like to attend. Please join Fr. John Morrison on zoom on Thursday, June 9th at 4 PM for a Spirituality Group presentation, “music, music, music.” The Spirituality Group is also sponsoring a labyrinth walk on June 11th. We will meet at St. John’s at 10:00 AM and proceed to CW Post and then to Bar Frites for lunch.
In Christ’s love,