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The Chalice
Friday, September 13 2019

‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height. (Browning)

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass, So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear, Till a’ the seas gang dry. (Burns)

But we loved with a love that was more than love—I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven, Laughed loud at her and me. (Poe)

And the sunlight clasps the earth And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth If thou kiss not me? (Shelly)

Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; (Shakespeare)

The great poets describe love in ways that bend our minds into a deeper understanding of this human emotion that we experience in different ways. Jesus tries to explain to the crowd the steadfast love of God. He begins by turning the Pharisees world upside down. He eats with and preaches to tax collectors and sinners  The Pharisees see themselves as better than the common person and look down on anyone who does not live up to their lofty religious standards. But Jesus teaches the crowd that they may be despised by the religious leaders, but they are loved so deeply by God that there is no sin that they can’t be forgiven for. Jesus teaches that life is about relationship with God and our neighbor and not about the cultural standards of our time. So many people are told that they are not pretty enough, smart enough, or rich enough. We are told again and again that we do not live up to the unrealistic expectations of others. Jesus came to tell us that God’s mercy, love, and hope for each and every one of us is unbounded. “I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19).

Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin. In both metaphors, God is searching for you and me when we drift off the path. God is always reaching out to those who feel they are not perfect. Jesus comes to us with a message that God created us just as we are and we are loved by God so deeply that not even the greatest bards can describe the breadth and length and height and depth of that love.

I give thanks each and every day because God created this beautiful world and teaches us how to love one another. Last Sunday at St. John’s it was so nice to see people back from their summer vacations and worshiping together. I feel so blessed to serve the Lord with such a fine group of people. In both parables, when people return to the Lord, the natural reaction is to rejoice! We rejoice in the ordination of our Deacon, Anthony Jones to the priesthood. We rejoice in our prayers and in singing praise to God on Sundays. We rejoice in coming to the altar to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We rejoice by sharing a meal during the coffee hour and again at our parish picnic this Sunday at noon at the Centerport Senior Center.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.  Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:4-9).

In exceeding thankfulness,

Fr. Duncan

Posted by: Rev. Duncan A. Burns AT 08:34 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
St. John's Episcopal Church
12 Prospect St. | Huntington, NY 11743 | PH: (631) 427-1752
Sunday Services at 8 AM and 10 AM
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