Friday, July 29 2022
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4).
In today’s Gospel story Jesus is in Galilee teaching, healing the sick and bringing about the Kingdom of God. Thousands of people have gathered and are pressing in on Jesus to hear what he is saying and to witness these alleged miracles that they have heard about. The crowd was anxious to hear him for a variety of reasons. Some came to be healed. Some came to hear the Rabbi speak. Many were not believers and had come to call him out as a phony and an imposter. Can you even imagine one political party trying to make the other party look bad in our time?
While Jesus is teaching his disciples, someone in the crowd brings a request before Jesus. What he wants is a simple settlement of an inheritance dispute with his brother. “Tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me,” he says to Jesus. He wants more than he is legally allowed and wants Jesus to get him more than he deserves. Jesus rebukes the man, saying, “Who appointed me to be a judge over you?” Then, he brings up the topic of spiritual integrity. He tries to give the crowd a new understanding of possessions and their relationship with God. The rich fool built larger barns and filled them with his crops. He is finally satisfied with what he has and on that day his life comes to an end. The question is not, “Who has stored up the most treasure.” The question is, “How were you able to use what God gave you to make the world better.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The Good Samaritan was good because he was tough minded enough to gain economic security and tender hearted enough to have compassion for wounded brother on life’s highway. The rich fool was foolish not because he wasn’t tough minded but because he wasn’t tender hearted.” The trouble with the rich fool in the parable is his relationship to his possessions. The trouble is that in storing up his possessions for himself, he has forgotten God. He has forgotten that everything that he received was from God and that he needed to give back a portion of what he had. A hard hearted person does not feel the love, mercy and compassion of God. The rich fool becomes so self-absorbed, self-centered and self-sufficient that he believes he has complete control over his possessions and his life including his soul. The rich fool has deceived himself to think that the abundance of his possessions can satisfy the hunger and thirst of his soul. But it is faith in God and the love, compassion, and mercy of God that fills our deepest desire and gives us a fulfilling life.
On Sunday July 31st, we will host the United for Ukraine Fundraiser. There will be music, art, jewelry, the St. John’s Thrift Shop, food, a silent auction, baskets, and baked goods. Everyone is asked to come and enjoy Alex in concert at 1:15 and George at 5:45 in the sanctuary. Please volunteer to help, bring baked goods or just stay and enjoy the afternoon of music and fun.
In Christ’s love,
Friday, July 22 2022
Lord, Teach us to Pray.
This week, as we continue to journey towards Jerusalem with Jesus, one of his disciples, who must have been deeply schooled in prayer from his Jewish roots, now asks Jesus to teach all of the disciples how to pray. Such an intriguing question. One can easily assume that this disciple would have attended services in the synagogue and Temple from childhood. As such, he would have prayed three times each day, morning, afternoon, and evening and would also have been familiar with the spontaneous prayer of blessings. Moses had often reminded the Israelites not to forget the Lord their God in Deuteronomy 8: 10-11: “When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God…”Always remember to give thanks to God who is the source of every good thing.
What does this disciple see in Jesus that begs the question: Lord teach us to pray?
The Gospel of Luke has more references to prayer than any of the other Gospels. In fact, in a commentary by Alfred Plummer, it is referenced as “the Gospel of Prayer.” As he makes his way to Jerusalem, teaching, and preaching, it becomes quite obvious just how often Jesus takes time for prayer. The disciples finally notice and have now realized that perhaps Jesus might have something unique to teach them about prayer and its importance in their lives going forward. In fact, Luke helps to pave the way for a foundation of constant communion with God in prayer, which may not have been intuitive for the disciples.
Every Sunday, we come together to pray as a community of believers. Corporate prayer is so powerful! But many of us, like the disciples, feel a certain inadequacy when it comes to our own prayer life. “What are the words I need to say?” or “What if I ask God for something and I do not receive it? Is my faith weak?” or “I’m not sure that I am hearing God.”
So, this Sunday, Jesus has offered us a model for prayer as he teaches the famous prayer that has, over time, been labeled The Lord’s Prayer. He invites each of us into a deeply personal relationship with God and urges us to call upon God – even using the more familiar and intimate name for God: Abba - Daddy. We have been called, as God’s children, to trust that we belong to God and God wants what is good and life giving for each of us – even if we are not able to fully understand or recognize what that is.
Most of all, when we bring our need to God’s love in faith, that is indeed prayer.
Friday, July 15 2022
This Sunday's Epistle should warm us up for a full-throated, full-hearted, praying of the Nicene Creed. Paul opens his letter to the Colossians with a hymn to God's only-begotten, through whom and for whom all things were made, in whom all things hang together. This vision of the Cosmic Christ, who fills and sustains all things, should open the eyes of our hearts to the sanctity of the whole Creation, to the dignity of all that lives, human and non-human alike.
Then Paul goes on to affirm that this exalted being, having become incarnate from the Virgin Mary, suffered on the Cross to reconcile all things to God. But notice how Paul takes it one step further than the Creed does (or maybe he's just more explicit). The Creed says that Christ came down from heaven for us (human beings) and for our salvation. Paul says that through the blood of Christ's cross God reconciles all things to God. The one through whom all things were made suffers and dies for the reconciliation of all things, and continues to suffer with us when we suffer, indeed to suffer with all creatures when they suffer. We are created, and redeemed, and sustained by Christ along with all Creation.
In the letter to the Romans, Paul says that the whole Creation groans in labor pains, waiting for the day when it will be set free from its bondage to decay, and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. So we can just sit back and let God do all the work, right? Not at all! For the earth also groans under the weight of our careless exploitation of the natural world. And Christ has given us the ministry of reconciliation. As ministers of reconciliation, and as repentant abusers of the world God commended to our care, we must now do our part in the healing of the earth.
Father Matthew Moore+
Missioner for Environmental Justice, Episcopal Diocese of Long Island
All are warmly invited to join Father Matthew following the 8 am and 10 am services during coffee hour in the Great Hall for a discussion of the environmental crisis and the work of our diocesan Creation Care Community. He is looking forward to hearing from the people of St. John’s about your parish’s involvement in Creation Care.
Sunday, July 10 2022
Timothy Keller suggests that if “the meaning of life in the United States is the pursuit of pleasure and personal freedom” then suffering will be devastating for many people. “When pain and suffering come upon us, we finally see not only that we are not in control of our lives but that we never were.” Putting our trust in God and living a life of purpose and meaning can actually make suffering an opportunity for growth and draw us to a deeper relationship with God. Purpose is what brings meaning to our lives. When our purpose is about our own needs, pride, and control we are headed for disaster. Life can become more fulfilling and wonderful when we align our lives with the purpose of God.
In his book, “The Word is Very Near You,” Martin Smith defines prayer as attentiveness to God’s disclosure to us and the heart’s response to that disclosure. Paul prayed that God might dwell in our hearts. In today’s Gospel a person asked Jesus how we find purpose and meaning in our lives. Jesus asks them, "what is written in the law." They reply, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus tells the person if they can do this, they will inherit the Kingdom of God. They ask Jesus, “who is my neighbor?”
Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan who takes care of the man who was beaten and robbed on the road, and who was passed by the religious leader and a priest. The grace in the passage is the compassion and mercy that the Samaritan showed for the injured man. He took care of his wounds, let him ride on his own animal, brought him to an inn, paid in advance for his care and promised to come back and make sure his account was settled. The point of the passage is that Christ calls us to deepen our relationship with God so that we might understand what it means to love our neighbor. This story is not just about helping others, but about the mercy and compassion that can only come from God above. God sent God’s only son to suffer and die on the cross that your sins may be forgiven. This is a crucial understanding because when you realize how much God loves all of us, you can begin to see your neighbor in this light and practice a radical hospitality like the Good Samaritan. This idea of unearned grace turned everything upside down. This event changed the way people saw the world forever. The question is, “Can you accept the love of Christ in your heart and allow that love, mercy and compassion to spill out into the world?”
St. John’s has a wonderful reputation for radical hospitality. Every morning we pray together at 9 am. Fr. James has opened our doors to the community on Wednesdays at noon. Please join him and bring a friend. This week we start the summer book study on “Island of the World” on Monday nights at 6:30 pm. We also begin book study of “Gilead” on Mondays at noon. We are working with our neighbors at St. John’s, Cold Spring Harbor. Please join us on Sundays at 8 am and 10 pm for preaching from four different clergy in July. We know that this past two years has brought suffering and pain to many folks due to sickness, gun violence, and economic stress. God offers us a path of meaning and purpose in the midst of chaos. Please join us and I promise you will inherit the eternal life that our person in today’s Gospel was desperately seeking, but unable to find.
In Christ’s love,
Friday, July 01 2022
Lord, You Give The Great Commission:
“Heal The Sick And Preach The Word.”
Lest The Church Neglect Its Mission
And The Gospel Go Unheard,
Help Us Witness to Your Purpose
With Renewed Integrity:
With The Spirit’s Gifts Empower Us
For The Work of Ministry.
Lord, You Call Us To Your Service:
“In My Name Baptize And Teach.”
That The World May Trust Your Promise,
Life Abundant Meant For Each,
Give Us All New Fervour, Draw Us
Closer In Community:
With The Spirit’s Gifts Empower Us
For The Work of Ministry.
Lord, You Bless With Words Assuring:
“I Am With You To The End.”
Faith and Hope and Love Restoring,
May We Serve as You Intend,
And, Amid the Cares That Claim Us,
Hold In Mind Eternity:
With The Spirit’s Gifts Empower Us
For The Work Of Ministry
(Hymn 528 v. 1, 2, & 5).
The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ” (BCP p. 855). We can accomplish this by becoming a preaching, baptizing, teaching, and forgiving Eucharistic community through the Holy Spirit. The Episcopal Church Hymn, “Lord, You Give the Great Commission” works well as a hymn of mission in our liturgy. After the Eucharist, we are sent into mission every Sunday with this prayer, “Father, send us out to do the work that you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord" (BCP p. 365). This Hymn will be sung during the offertory to remind us of the mission of the Church today. We are sent forth in the name of Christ. Hymn 528 articulates the Church’s mission through the use of biblical phrases and themes. The first verse refers to a passage in Matthew. “As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt. 10:7-8). In this chapter, Jesus summons his disciples and tells them where to go and what to preach. The mission of the Church today is to become a preaching community. We are given the great commission to “go” and preach to the entire world. This preaching comes not only from the pulpit at our Sunday liturgy, but by the way we live our lives in the world as faithful Christians. We are asked to “witness to your purpose.” Mother Teresa said to “proclaim the Gospel” and use words if necessary. By the example of Christ and in the tradition of the saints, we live our lives as a living testimony of the love of God in Jesus Christ. Jesus and his disciples healed the sick and brought people to unity with God and one another. They accomplished this in a servant ministry to those in need. Mother Teresa dedicated her life to healing and caring for the sick. As the Church today, our mission is to do likewise.
In the second verse, we are called into service to baptize and teach. The great commission says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20). The theology of the Church today is a Baptismal ecclesiology. We are called to be a baptizing community. “Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church” (BCP p. 298). Our theology must focus on Baptism as an essential aspect of the Church’s mission. This is where non-Christian individuals enter the Church. We become disciples and empowered through the triune God with our gifts of ministry. The refrain in hymn 528 articulates the crucial element between every verse, “with the Spirit’s gifts empower us for the work of ministry.” This Baptismal ecclesiology is the core of the Church’s mission. Please join us every Sunday in July as we celebrate 5 Baptisms at St. John’s.
In Christ’s love,