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,