Sunday, July 29 2018
I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 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 3:16-19)
Last Sunday, Deacon Anthony preached about the love that Jesus has for all of us. We all sang the children’s song, “Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.” It was wonderful that when Deacon Anthony entered the parish hall after the service, he received a warm ovation. After church Deacon Anthony joined me for a Christening party at Dawn and Jennifer’s house for Harry. Everyone at the reception had wonderful things to say about our Sunday Baptismal service and the hospitality they felt. When we realize that we are loved deeply by God, we are able to love one another deeply. “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
In today’s reading from Ephesians, Paul prays to the good people of Ephesus that their inner being will be strengthened by the love of God in Jesus Christ. We can all pray for the good folks at St. John’s that we will comprehend this love, that Christ will dwell in our hearts, and that we may reflect that love to all the people we meet in our lives.
In Christ’s love,
Rev. Duncan Burns
Sunday, July 22 2018
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Perhaps you will recognize these words as the refrain of the song "Jesus Loves Me." These simple words and simple tune are often taught to children. It is easy to learn and easy to teach. But, these few simple words say so much about Jesus. When did you last stop and think, yes, Jesus loves me? It is easy to get caught up in all that is going on in day-to-day living and not stop to remember that Jesus loves each one of us.
We hear in the reading this week from the Gospel according to Mark that, when the apostles gathered around Jesus to tell him all they had been doing, he suggested they go to a deserted place and rest a while. It must have been a busy place because it says that many were coming and going and didn't even have time to eat. Have you ever had one of those days or even a season where you were so busy that you didn't even have time to stop and eat? I suspect we can all relate!
They got in a boat to go to the place to rest. However, when they moored the boat and got out, they found that a crowd had gathered because the people recognized that it was Jesus and the apostles. It says that as Jesus went ashore, he saw the crowd and he had compassion for them.
Compassion. I keep coming back to this word as I read and re-read this Gospel. Jesus had compassion. He had compassion on them and he has compassion on us today. His compassion was evidenced in the paragraphs that follow in Mark. Jesus was moved to feed and heal those who came to him. That was compassion in action. You see, compassion is more than just feeling sympathy. Compassion involves allowing ourselves to see distress and to be moved to action to alleviate it. It was in the midst of crowds, it was in the midst of the coming and going, it was in a place where the people didn't even have time to eat that Jesus showed compassion. Jesus showed love. Through compassion and love, lives and circumstances were changed.
It is in and through Christ-like compassion that we at St. John's are seeking to change the world - Compassion lived out in feeding the hungry, helping immigrants and refugees, being intentional about racial reconciliation and formation, loving those around us, being serious about discipleship. Yes, Jesus loves each one of us and with that love we love others. With his compassion we share compassion. In Jesus, the world can be transformed. The Bible tells me so.
Sunday, July 15 2018
“It was in the conversation with Nicodemus that Nicodemus said, “You know Lord, I want to know more about your teaching.” And Jesus said to him, “Nicodemus don’t give me that jive. We’re not on Oprah Winfrey.” He said Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” In the Greek it can be translated, born again, born anew, or born from above. And the point, I think, the only reason to be born is so that you can live! God wants you to live! God wants us to have life, and God wants all of his children to have life! I could go on but I won’t. It goes on in John’s gospel, he says, “I am resurrection and I am life”. He says in the fourteenth chapter, “I am the way, and the truth and the life”. In the tenth chapter, “I have come that you might have life.” And then at the end of the gospel, I’ve written all these things so that you might believe and have life! The whole point is life! Life abundant meant for each. Life for rich folk and life for poor folk. Life for Democrats and life for Republicans. Life for Independents! Life for Deputies! Life for Bishops! Life for everybody! Life! Life! Life! Life. Life. And the truth is it’s so easy to be deceived about what makes for real life. My brothers, my sisters, my siblings, we have work to do… To stand for Christianity, a way of being Christian that looks like Jesus of Nazareth. A way of being Christian that is grounded and based on love. A way of being Christian that is not ashamed to be called people of love. So go from this place and be people of the way. Go from this place as people of Jesus. Go from this place as people of love! Go from this place and heal our lands! Go from this place and heal our world! Go from this place until justice rolls down! Go from this place until the nightmare is over! Go from this place until God’s dream is realized! Go from this place and help us live! God love ya! God bless ya!” (Presiding Bishop Curry)
Please go from St. John’s in abundant life. As you enjoy some rest, relaxation, and vacation this summer, please be part of the Jesus Movement by loving one another. Bring life to the poor, oppressed, and sight to the blind through the ministries of St. John’s.
Please join us next Sunday July 22nd for Baptism and a special sermon from Deacon Anthony Jones.
In Christ’s love,
Sunday, July 08 2018
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
Jesus sends the disciples out into the world this week to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. Ministry does not have to be complicated. We are called to be followers of the Jesus Movement. “Jesus ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.” (Mark 6:8-9)
There are just a few basic expectations that God has for us. In a world where many seem to be looking out for themselves, God asks us to look out for the weak and the powerless. In a world where people are being mean to one another, God asks us to love our neighbor. In a world where people are very self-centered, God asks us to be self-giving. The prophet Micah tells us all we need to know about what God wants from us.
In our humility, we worry that we are not good enough to represent God. But Paul tells us that God’s grace is sufficient, for power is made perfect in weakness. This means that God made you just as you are and loves you. I mentioned last week what St. Augustine said, “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us. Therefore, there is no one on this planet that God loves more than you and no one that he loves less.” I love this way of looking at the world? If we can love “the least of these” as we love ourselves, we will do amazing ministry. Please discern where you are called to do ministry at St. John’s. Perhaps it is to help out in our thriving Thrift Shop, to pitch in once in a while with our breakfast group, or to join Hilda’s Group on Tuesday afternoon. Can we open our hearts to do justice, love kindness, and humbly walk with our God?
In Christ’s love,
Sunday, July 01 2018
Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)
The news this week has been very difficult for most of us. There was a young African American boy on Long Island that was bullied online. They sent him images of the KKK and super-imposed his image on a gorilla and other disturbing photographs. There was a news story that a Trump supporter was not being served because he was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. A judge ruled that it is legal to deny Trump supporters service at a business. I heard many people on the internet who have increased their mental temperament from anger to rage over the immigration issue. What are we to do?
My first reaction is to be upset at all the news that is coming out this week. My defense mechanism is to avoid all forms of media and not encourage those who are sharing their political anger on Facebook. My next instinct is to pray about all the tension in America and try to bring people together through the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. In our Baptismal Covenant last Sunday, we all promised to proclaim by WORD AND EXAMPLE the Good News of God in Christ, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and strive for justice and peace, and to respect the dignity of every human being. Racism is completely unacceptable. Children are our treasure and should not be separated from their parents. Hatred toward the other political party is not Christian behavior. If we want to change America for the better, we need to have compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Please vote your conscience and get your people into office, but please treat your neighbors (and especially fellow St. John’s parishioners) with dignity and respect regardless of their political views. We are a divided nation that is starting to have a mob mentality. Make a difference by standing up against injustice, helping the poor, feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked. Use your energy to do good and to make a difference.
In Christ's love,