Friday, November 24 2023
I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may perceive what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come (Ephesians 1:16-21).
St. John’s, Huntington has something that you need, your family needs, your friends need, and your neighbors need. It is the love of Christ in your heart. This love starts by realizing who Jesus is and what he did, does, and will do for anyone that believes in him. With the “eyes of our heart enlightened,” we can bring the peace “that passes all understanding” to our inner circle. Have you felt the tension that folks are feeling on social media, on the roads, and at your workplace? We are headed into an election year again and we all know this divides us as a nation. The world is divided by war and unspeakable evil. Many churches are dying. Paul tells us that there is hope in Jesus Christ. It begins with a thankful heart. Please give thanks for everything that you have been given.
This week’s Gospel asks if we have fed the hungry, given a drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, cared for the sick, and visited those in prison. We need you at St. John’s, and perhaps the love of Jesus Christ and the peace of God is just the remedy that the world could use right now. We would love for you to fill out a 2024 pledge card and catch up on your 2023 pledge. These are difficult times financially for churches. Let’s carry on the tradition of the last 278 years at St. John’s. We ask for you to volunteer or bring in some gently used winter clothing for the Thrift Shop. We ask for you to support our Adopt a Family. We need you not only to come to church, but to invite others for Advent programs, Christmas Concerts, and services. We stand at the crossroads and we need everyone to make a choice. Will we accept the love of God or will we be sucked into the division and hatred that has enveloped our world?
There will be Advent Wreath Making after the 10:00 AM service on Sunday November 26th at the coffee hour.
Join us for our Advent Series from 6-8 PM on Tuesdays, December 5th and 12th and on our Advent Retreat with Bishop Wolf from 9 AM-12:30 PM on Saturday, December 9th.
Please order your Youth Group Christmas Wreath and Flower by November 28th. Our youth will hand out your wreath and flowers on Saturday December 2nd from 10:30-1 and Sunday December 3rd until noon.
Please fill out your Altar Guild Christmas Poinsettia Memorials and Thanksgivings forms ASAP!
Please attend our concert, Peace on Earth on December 10th at 7 PM and our St. John’s Christmas Concert on December 17th at 7:30 PM with Leslie, Christine, and friends.
In Christ’s love,
Friday, November 17 2023
In the Blink of an Eye
“Time is endless but goes too fast.
Sermon preparation takes time. It is about allowing the scriptures to settle into my brain and heart – to whirl around a little – alas, in my case, a lot. I can’t even tell you how many hours it takes after I read the lectionary, do the appropriate research to be fully grounded in the intent of the passages for the whirling to stop so I can finally put pen to page.
Time is a funny thing. When we are children, time seems to go on forever: “When will I be old enough to stay up until 9:00? -- to stay out until 9:00?” Perhaps you have experienced a period in your life, or even in your career when you marked off each day on your calendar – thinking that it might help speed up time – to get to the end of something tedious. Can’t wait until this school year is over, says one teacher – me too, agrees the student. That seems rather sad. Trying to rush through a year without considering the joy in teaching – in learning – not to mention some of the fun activities school can offer both children and adults!
As we age, time sweeps by in the blink of an eye. We are reminded of the frailty and brevity of life. It isn’t comfortable to face what we cannot control and time is certainly one of those things. Have you ever noticed how our culture fights aging? More wrinkle creams or hair dyes line the shelves of our stores as we struggle with the natural signs of the passage of time. Our independence is so precious that it becomes traumatic to give up the car keys when age lessens our vision or judgment. How we struggle with letting go!
Our lectionary this week includes portions of Psalm 90 – a Psalm frequently used at funerals. It has been attributed to Moses. We are offered comfort from the very first line: “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.” God has been home to the Israelites, throughout their entire forty homeless years in the desert in search of the promised land. But alas, it is not to be for many on that journey, including Moses. He is left only to view the land of milk and honey from afar. And we learn that our time is not all there is to measure. We are being encouraged to reflect on God’s time – not just our own. “A thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes”
Most importantly, however, we are being encouraged to live each day – day by day – not dwelling on the past or fretting about the future. Moses’ prayer ends with a plea for God to teach us – help us to see and receive each of the days we are given as a gift from God. May we each strive to make each day count to the glory of God!
Let us make each day count!
Friday, November 10 2023
I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream (Amos 5:23-24).
Today’s Gospel from Matthew asks us to keep awake. To be awake in the Lord is to love God and one another. Be generous with your love to God, to your family, and to your neighbor. Celebrate the diversity of our community with a thankful heart and a steadfast faith. Every kind act you do for one another gives praise and thanksgiving to God, whose steadfast love for us overflows from our hearts. Be aware that folks come to our church each and every week hoping to connect with our community.
“Henri Nouwen spoke about ‘hospitality of heart.’ At its core, hospitality is an opening of the heart. It really has very little to do with having friends or strangers over for dinner. Indeed, we can invite the poor into our homes for a meal three nights a week, but if our heart is not open, we have not offered hospitality. This is what makes many of us avoid hospitality as a practice. We hesitate to open our hearts to the degree that hospitality calls for. Providing a meal or shelter seems more manageable than opening our hearts. Opening our hearts means we really have to gather others in… to know the hopes that lie hidden in their souls, the joys that have taken them to heaven’s doors – all these become a part of our own heart when we engage in hospitality as a spiritual practice. The challenge of this, of course, is that the contents of our own heart merge with those of our guest. This means that what is in our heart is no longer front and center. It’s no longer all about me. It becomes, instead, all about us” (M. Renee Miller).
Love is not just treating folks well, but listening to how they feel. If we are ever to break the bonds of racial injustice, we must listen to the voices of others. What we often find out is that others are gifted in ways that we never saw before. As I listen to the joint choir between St. Augustine’s and St. John’s on our website, I feel the passion in the choirs singing. That passion penetrates our hearts and makes us overflow with love like a stream after it has rained for several days. Justice and righteousness are a gift of the Spirit when a heart is overflowing in love. Too often we are hung up on the little things that bother us and we are distracted. I ask you to awaken and arise in the love of Jesus Christ. Justice and righteousness begin to roll down when we listen to the hungry, the homeless, the sick, the oppressed, and the naked. I ask you to join our HIHI homeless ministry, give a donation for the thanksgiving baskets, knit a prayer shawl, help in the thrift shop, join the breakfast group or St. Hilda’s Guild, give a gift to our Adopt-a-Family, and pray for peace in the Middle East. God’s only hands and arms are yours.
Finally, I ask you to turn in your pledge card by Sunday, if you have not already done so. Our Stewardship Committee will be making calls and visits next week to follow up, but they would prefer if they didn’t need to make any calls. Please also check if you are up to date on your pledge for 2023. Thank you to all members of our congregation who have already pledged. Your generosity allows us to continue the faith and love that have been shared for the past 278 years and to let God’s justice and righteousness roll down from St. John’s into our community.
In Christ’s love,
Friday, November 03 2023
This Sunday, we are transferring All Saints Day from it’s traditional day of November 1 to the following Sunday, as we are allowed to do. This week has been a time to remember both the saints in our lives and our church and also those who have departed from us, with the commemoration of All Souls on November 2.
We remember both saints and souls who have gone before in church history. As we conclude St. John’s stewardship appeal, I hope we can take a moment to remember that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. It is important to remember that our church and her works and our faith are always on the move and the church temporal is not and will never be finished until that last day. This is the third iteration of St. John’s church, the Episcopal Church was once an east-coast establishment that now finds itself throughout the Western Hemisphere and beyond, and as we prepare this church for the 21st century, we are making it ready to be a spiritual beacon for Huntington and all of Long Island.
This doesn’t mean simply building and grounds, how many activities you volunteer for, or how much you give, but also how you live in light of being a Christian and worshipping as a Christian here at St. John’s. I do not mean to say we strive for perfection, but, as I touched on in a previous sermon of mine, we do strive to be saints. We are called down a path of holiness in our Christian lives. This is something I would like to touch on this Sunday, what is our stewardship of holiness? How are we stewarding our call to holiness in this place? And how does this stewarding of holiness help the future here at St. John’s?
Remember, holiness is not perfection, but it is the way in which we follow God and God in Jesus Christ closely, that can help us care for a place like St. John’s and our community so that they will be here not only for the next generation, but show right now, right here why St. John’s and her message of making Christ known is so desperately needed in the world.
Yours in Christ,