Friday, January 28 2022
Jeremiah 1:4-5, 7-8
The word of the Lord came to me saying,
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations."
Jeremiah’s call to preach was a job he neither asked for or desired. There he was, a young boy, from a family of priests living in a little town called Anathoth, located just three miles north of Jerusalem, where his family had been displaced years earlier by Solomon.
Simply minding his own business, God unexpectedly barged into his life calling him to be a prophet for God’s people. Has that ever happened to you? Snuggled up with a good book and all of a sudden you receive a prompting from God? Is it really you, God? You want me to do what?
That is exactly what happened to Jeremiah. Reluctant to obey, he made all kinds of excuses – too young, not experienced, not even able to speak before a crowd. “No God, I don’t think I can do that.” But God wouldn’t take any of it. No was simply not an option.
But the Lord said to me,
"Do not say, 'I am only a boy';
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you,
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
says the Lord."
This rendered Jeremiah speechless until Jeremiah remembered that the Lord had indeed provided all that he needed to go forth and do the work God called him to do.
I am always amazed at how God approaches and indeed chooses the most unwilling people to do God’s will. Why Jeremiah, so young and inexperienced? Perhaps it is because God saw other qualities in Jeremiah that could be used effectively to bring God’s message to the people of Jerusalem, which was on the brink of collapse. He provided the words and the message, and learned to trust God’s promises to be with him.
When God calls us, it can sometimes be a frightening moment. We are not able to see the big picture, but rather only see our small selves not being worthy or capable of moving in God’s direction. While we too may banter a bit with God, telling him that we are too old, or too busy, or thinking, hey, maybe it isn’t even God that’s talking to me, or well, I might be able to serve on the Altar Guild but not now, maybe next year.
If we hang in there and continue to dialogue with God, we might begin to see things from a different perspective. We too might begin to enter into a deeper trust relationship with the One who loves and treasures us so. Moving beyond our fear requires being in relationship with God who holds you in the palm of his hand. That is not to say that the task God gives you will be easy, but you will know that God has your back. How could you go wrong? And, maybe, through God’s little nudge, or push, you will discover the amazing person God created you to become!
In Christ's Love and Service,
Claire Mis, Seminarian
Friday, January 21 2022
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Isaiah proclaimed to an oppressed people that soon they would be freed. “Jesus rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to zealously preach, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing"(Luke 4:20-21).
Jesus is going out into the world to demonstrate God’s love and mercy through his ministry. Deacons are a prime example as to how this ministry should be carried out. I am so thankful that we have the example of Jesus Christ us to show us the path of truth in this misguided pandemic-ridden world. God calls us to see those who are hurting and oppressed in the world, to roll open the scroll, and to fulfill the message of loving your neighbor through your actions in the world. When we throw a pebble into a still pond, the impact creates a ripple effect. That is what evangelism is all about, sharing the love of Christ in a self-indulgent, greedy, violent, and sinful world. Evangelism is not about getting people back to church. It is developing a relationship with the living presence of the Lord and bringing love and help where and how it is needed in the world. It is about listening to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in community and aligning our lives to the will of God. It is about understanding that we all have our own set of cultural beliefs, yet being able to love and serve those who may not completely agree with you. It is about the invitation, hospitality, and incorporation of others into the faith and love of Christ and the ministry of St. John’s. My hope is that you will have a belly burning thirst for helping others and that others will wonder, what inspires you to do good? When they do, I hope you will invite them to come and see the love and mercy that God offers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When they come back, I hope you will invite them to work in the Thrift Shop, to bring in a coat for the homeless, to help the St. Hilda’s Guild on Tuesdays on zoom, help out with ECW fair, sing in the choir, help read the lessons on Sunday, serve at the altar, or if you like, just join us each week at worship on Sunday.
Next Saturday, Clair Mis will be ordained to the deaconate. Claire has been such a blessing to St. John’s! “Deacons are members of one of three distinct orders of ordained ministry (with bishops and priests). In the Episcopal Church a deacon exercises 'a special ministry of servanthood' directly under the deacon's bishop, serving all people and especially those in need (BCP, p. 543). This definition reflects the practice of the early church, in which deacons were ordained 'not to the priesthood but to the servanthood [ministry] of the bishop'... Since ancient times the liturgical functions of deacons have suggested the activity of angels. As they proclaim the gospel, lead intercessions, wait at the Eucharistic table, and direct the order of the assembly, deacons act as sacred messengers, agents, and attendants. The revival of the order of deacons in the twentieth century has emphasized social care and service. Many bishops in the Episcopal Church expect their deacons to promote care of the needy outside the church” (Episcopal Dictionary).
In Christ’s love,
Friday, January 14 2022
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
(I Cor. 12:4-11)
Epiphany is a season that manifests the divinity of Jesus. It starts with the recent birth of Christ in the coming of the Magi on the day of the Epiphany. Last Sunday, we looked at Jesus as a young boy in the temple. The Baptism of our Lord was observed on the Sunday after Epiphany. The gospels for the other Sundays of the Epiphany season describe the wedding at Cana, the reading of Isaiah in the temple by Jesus, and the opposition to Jesus in Nazareth. On February 2nd, we celebrate the Presentation of our Lord in the temple. The Last Sunday after the Epiphany is always devoted to the Transfiguration. Jesus' identity as the Son of God is dramatically revealed in the Transfiguration gospel, as well as the gospel of the Baptism of Christ. We are called to respond to Christ in faith through the showings of his divinity recorded in the gospels of the Epiphany season. The prophet Isaiah speaks of the coming of the Kingdom of God in today’s lesson. He says that you will no longer be forsaken and you will no longer be desolate. This helps bring us from despair to hope in troubled times. You will be blessed and loved by God. So God sent his only Son so that everyone would know that God rejoices over them and brings about righteousness and justice so that we all will know that we are loved and blessed by God.
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).
I ask each member of our congregation to consider your own gifts and to share them with those in need in our community and at St. John’s. Please consider joining our Altar Guild or serving as a reader at St. John’s. You might also consider serving in the Thrift Shop. There are many opportunities such as a Lay Eucharistic Minister or helping out on Buildings and Grounds.
Most of all, we need you to be connected to one another. Joining a small group at St. John’s is healthy for your spiritual life. Praying with a group of folks and walking together in good times and bad is one of the greatest benefits of joining a church community. Morning prayer is at 9am every weekday. Sunday zoom is at 8am and 10am and each service has a coffee hour after the service. Spirituality Group meets every 2nd Thursday. Thrift shop meets on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 12-3. Racial Reconciliation and Social Justice meets on the last Thursday of this month. Bible Study meets Monday night at 6:30pm and Tuesday at 11:00am. St. Hilda’s Guild meets on Tuesdays at 12pm. EfM meets on Monday nights. We have mission teams to Navajoland in Utah, Puerto Rico, and Border Ministries in Arizona. We are traveling for a spiritual pilgrimage to Iona, Scotland next year. Please use your gifts through a small group, serve on a committee, or pray with us.
In Christ’s love,
Friday, January 07 2022
“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:3-11).
I am asking our entire parish to read, study, and inwardly digest, Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Our bible study is on Monday nights at 6:30 pm and Tuesday mornings at 11 am. We are using video from N. T. Wright and the book, Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters. One of the themes of this letter is to live as a single community. Although many of us are facing immense struggles, Paul says that we can give thanksgiving and celebrate with joy. This week, we will all be reading Phil. 1:1-11. The passage speaks of “koinonia” or partnership. Living in Christ means following a path that brings together all sorts of folks. Paul had this deep love for the people of Philippi, who had become partners in God’s mission with him. They prayed for one another constantly and with one another when they could. At St. John’s we show a radical hospitality to all those who walk through our door or view our services online. Paul tells us that the one who put a good work in us will complete it on the “Day of the Lord.” We are asked to work together and pray together until Jesus returns. We are transformed by the grace of God into an image of Jesus Christ. This passage is a particular challenge because these followers were of different races, worldviews, economic means, and backgrounds. Yet they all agree to follow Christ, who fulfills the promises of the prophets by making the world right one person at a time. The followers are overflowing with the light (love) of Christ that they can now share in a dark world.
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God (Isaiah 43:1-3).
“The Lord shall give strength to his people; the Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace” (Psalm 29:11).
God is with us during all our struggles during this seemingly never-ending pandemic. In the letter to the Philippians, Paul tells his followers that despite their suffering they can receive thanksgivings and joy through the love that they share with one another.
In Christ’s love,