Sunday, April 26 2020
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things (Mary Oliver).
Please join us at 9:00 AM, Monday-Friday to pray the office of Morning Prayer. The discipline of praying every day draws our heart deeply to God and one another. When we share our deepest vulnerability with our family of St. John’s, God draws us together. Everyone is suffering right now in one way or another. When we watch the media, we become angry and polarized. When we pray together, we become one heart because Jesus dwells with all of us deep in our soul. It is in our pain and vulnerability that it is easiest to relate to one another. We pray in thanksgiving for the nurses and doctors that are caring for those who are sick. We pray for our police, fire fighters and every essential worker that puts their health on the line for our wellbeing. We give thanks for Coral, Claire, Alex, Jen, Fr. John and for the generosity of our parishioners through this crisis.
Please join us on Sunday morning at 10:00 am. We will be live streaming the Holy Eucharist from St. John’s. Alex will be playing our hymns on the piano in our church. I am sorry that we can’t be together, but I hope our service gives you hope that it won’t be long until we are together again. After the service we will have a time for sharing on our coffee hour. At 11:30, Alex will be playing a concert to benefit local charities helping those in need in Huntington. So far Christine and Alex have raised over $10,000. It really helps to share the link on your Facebook page.
We celebrated Earth Day this week very quietly, but maybe that is the best thing we can do for the environment. Although people are suffering all over the world, the earth is healing through the reduced carbon emission. The air, land, and sea are all on the mend because we have been forced to slow down. Please consider reducing your own carbon footprint when this crisis is over. God can heal the creation from generations of harmful pollution if we could only make this a priority. I can’t think of better stewardship than caring for the earth for our children and the generations to come.
In Christ’s love,
Sunday, April 19 2020
Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.
This Easter was different from any Easter I have ever celebrated. The Corona Virus has us locked up in our houses and apartments like the disciples were locked up in the upper room for fear that they would be punished by the ruling religious leaders. Our journey through Lent and Holy Week was possible because of the work of so many from our faith community. Thank you to Alex, the choir, Coral, Fr, John, Claire, Barb, and everyone that helped make the Holy Week and Easter Services a reality. Our church reflected who we are as a congregation.
At morning prayer this week Dr. Nina Grief shared some ways that we could all stay healthy. The first suggestion for those staying home is to stay on a schedule. The second idea is to get some fresh air even if is just for a few minutes. The third idea is to due prayer or meditation every day. For those who are essential workers, please take care of yourselves with good habits of eating, sleep and rest. If you are feeling depressed or overly anxious, please seek professional help. Each of us should try and come to terms with living in uncertainty in the coming months. I urge you to take care of yourself and one another. Be compassionate, kind and generous.
Join us for Morning Prayer, Bible Study, St. Hilda’s, EFM, Sacred Stories, or at Sunday Eucharist. This is Eastertide – the fifty days from Easter through Pentecost. Easter is not just a one-day celebration; it is a fifty-day celebration we also call the Easter Season. It is impossible to predict where we will be at the end of May, so live in the moment and focus on your physical and spiritual health.
This week Christine Dore will perform a piano concert on Facebook Live for emergency relief for food and shelter for those in need in Huntington. We have already distributed $9,200.00 through our connection with Huntington Rapid Response. Thanks to Susan, Pat and Heather for their connections in the community to insure that this money gets immediately to those in need. Thanks also to Project Hope with Dan our tenant that is preparing meals every day in our kitchen.
These fifty days hold special meaning as an entire season to intentionally celebrate new life in the resurrection of Jesus. The friends of Jesus arrived at the tomb on that Easter morning and found that his tomb was empty. The body of Jesus was not there because he had risen in victory to overcome death. That is reason to celebrate!
Through our life in Jesus Christ, we too are raised from the dead to a new life; not just raised to the victory of salvation in eternal life but raised to victory in this life in the here and now. The negative and dead ways of living and thinking no longer have control over us. We are raised to live a new life of hope. The resurrection offers us a new way to think and live in this world. The resurrection gives us the way to overcome those defeating ways of life that slowly destroy faith and hope. The First Letter of Peter says it well, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (I Peter 1:3)
Continue to experience the awe and wonder of the resurrection this Eastertide. Go for walks and take up new practices like yoga or meditation. Zoom in to the celebrations of the Holy Eucharist and Morning Prayer. Stay connected as a community of faith and look after those who are anxious, lonely, or afraid. We are Easter People at St. John’s because we choose a new life in Christ. Please stay safe and be the church to those who are vulnerable and afraid.
In Christ’s love,
Sunday, April 05 2020
First and last alike, receive your reward.
Rich and poor, rejoice together!
Conscientious and lazy, celebrate the day!
You who have kept the fast, and you who have not,
rejoice, this day, for the table is bountifully spread!
Feast royally, for the calf is fatted.
Let no one go away hungry.
Partake, all, of the banquet of faith.
Enjoy the bounty of the Lord's goodness!
Let no one lament persistent failings,
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death,
for the death of our Saviour has set us free.
This week will be very different from how we have celebrated Holy Week at St. John’s in the past. On Palm Sunday, we will have Morning Prayer at 8:00AM and we will celebrate the Palm Sunday liturgy at 10:00. Please grab a few branches from your yard so you can participate in the blessing of the palms and branches. There will be a rehearsal at 4PM on Saturday April 4th for our children, youth, and young adults that are doing the Passion of our Lord, Jesus Christ on Sunday. Alex will be playing the piano from the church. At 11:00ish, we will have a coffee hour hosted by Claire. Alex will perform at 11:30 on Facebook Live. Donations will help those who are poor and vulnerable in Huntington. Last week we collected over $3ooo. Alex will also be leading a Taizé service at 5:30 PM. Please join him for beautiful music, prayers and Taizé chants. Monday-Friday, we will have morning prayer at 9:00 AM. In fact, we will have morning prayer on Zoom from now on. Tuesday we will have bible study at 11:00 AM. We will study Mark 4:35-41. In case you have not noticed, Jesus has been present during this whole crisis and will “Still the storm.”
Palm Sunday and Easter are the core liturgical observances of the Christian year because we re-member what God has done, is doing, and will do for us. This is also the time when many people who have been away, come back to church. I urge you to call friends and parishioners that have not been joining us regularly and invite to observe Holy Week with us. Please tell them that our hope is in the Lord, nothing can separate us from the love of God and “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). This is a real comfort to those who believe.
Maundy Thursday is a simple service in the tradition of the last supper. The Gospel from John is read and we wash our hands this year as a sign of our times, our servanthood, and our love of one another. Please have a bowl with soapy water and a towel ready for the hand washing. We will also have an agape feast and we will bless wine, bread, and dried fruit, not in a sacramental way, but in a manner very similar to our seder meal. The service ends with a dramatic stripping of the altar at St. John’s and we begin a prayer vigil through the night. Please take one hour and pray for our community, your family, your friends, hospital workers, and all essential workers
Good Friday is a somber reminder of the depth of God’s love for us. We pray at the foot of the cross with Mary and John. We pray in silence and ponder the incredible love of God in the act of Jesus death on the cross for our sins. Fr. John’s will pray a series of meditations and Alex will play many Good Friday hymns as we all venerate the cross and ponder what occurred as Christ suffered on a cross for our sins. We will have stations of the cross at 7:00 PM and a Good Friday service on Zoom at 7:30 PM.
Easter Sunday is a celebration of Christ’s resurrection and the hope that Christ gives to each of us. All are welcome to share with us in his resurrection. I will celebrate the Holy Eucharist from St. John’s by myself at 10:00. Alex has prepared beautiful music with the choir. There will be a coffee hour after the service. We will proclaim the resurrection.
Alleluia! Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
These services help us to see ourselves as part of a community baptized into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I urge you to come to tune into as many Holy Week services as you are able, to invite guests, and to celebrate in a new way, the Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
In Christ’s love,
Rev. Duncan A. Burns