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The Chalice
Friday, March 24 2023
To Set the Mind on the Spirit


To set the mind on the flesh is death,
but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 

-Romans 8:6

To the people of the Community of St. John’s Church in Huntington: grace and peace to you.

This Sunday’s biblical texts all center around the paradox of death and new life; the ending yet the beginning; the completion of one story and the creation or launch of another. The bolded quote above is from this weekend's second reading of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, which St. Paul sums up quite nicely. We as human beings have an inclination to focus on the material, immediate results, and what is right in front of us rather than imagining the future tree from seeds planted: the larger picture.

Our gospel this Sunday takes us straight to the heart of this. Jesus’ longtime friend, Lazarus, has died. Jesus knows that He divinely shares in God the Father’s majesty and power, but he still weeps at Lazarus’ grave. The last time I wrote to you, we were reminded that Jesus was fully human and fully divine. Jesus’ humanity showed when He wept for the loss of his friend, when He shared in solidarity the hurt and pain of Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha. Jesus was brought into setting His mind on the flesh - the times that were right before Him. I’m writing to you today to say that it is okay. We can take moments to cry and mourn like Jesus did for Lazarus. It is okay to be upset. What brings us to metaphorical death is the everlasting dwelling there in that space. 

Our first reading is the shortened version of the Valley of Dry Bones, which is typically read as part of the Saturday night Easter Vigil service. If you have ever attended an Easter Vigil service, the reading of this scripture from Ezekial in the twilight vesper hours by candlelight is an experience. God asking “Mortal, can these bones live?” and the response being “Oh Lord, only you know.” God commands the mortal to prophesy over the bones and make them live and they graphically get up and have life put into them again, using the power of the Holy Spirit, Sophia. This is an Old Testament reference to the resurrection that was to come, certifying and proclaiming that yes, after death, there is life. 

As I mentioned last Sunday at church, the Bishop has asked me to answer the call of Priest-in-Charge at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Patchogue. This too is easy for me to focus on the material, immediate results, and what is right in front of me. I think about the big change of where I’m living, how much I will miss this community and the sadness that accompanies this change. I am also slightly nervous about my uncertainty of what is to come. This is natural. I must accept that these things will come to mind first. After this moment passes, where I should dwell mentally is the true point of St. Paul’s message: if one’s mind is set on God’s will, that is what gives humanity life in itself, and allows God’s Holy Spirit, Sophia, into the discerning human’s heart. 

Please join us this Sunday to share in Holy Communion at St. John’s Church in Huntington. You will be all truly missed, but I hope you, with me, see the greater picture for the universal (catholic) church at large. I give thanks to God for my time here, and for the growth and the good ministry of this holy place. I continue to pray for the influence of Sophia, the Holy Spirit, to guide the ministry that is happening here at St. John’s.

It has been my pleasure to serve you all, St. John’s. Cheers to the journey; until our paths cross again. 

Your sibling in Christ,
Fr. James

Posted by: The Rev. James E. Reiss AT 01:35 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
St. John's Episcopal Church
12 Prospect St. | Huntington, NY 11743 | PH: (631) 427-1752
Sunday Services at 8 AM and 10 AM
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