Friday, February 25 2022
“Life on the surface keeps us judging the circumstances. We look at the circumstances as a picture. If it is pretty, pleasing, and shows us what we want to see then God is good and life is as it should be. When we don’t see what we want then we often look for a new picture. The restless searching, the longing for more, the desire for meaning are not, however, usually answered by changed circumstances. The answer is found in depth, intimacy, and the vulnerability of the interior journey. We do not need to see new things. We need to see the same old things with new eyes. We do not need to hear a different voice. We need to hear the same old voice with different ears. We do not need to escape the circumstances of our life. We need to be more fully present to those circumstances. When this happens life is no longer lived at the surface. These are the transfigured moments, moments when the picture of our life has becomes a window into a new world and we come face to face with the glory of God.” (Michael K. Marsh)
Our presiding bishop asks us to meditate on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. He asks us to join the Jesus Movement. If we are to listen to Jesus, what is the message that he wants us to hear? The Jesus Movement begins with an internal movement of repentance, proceeds with a change of heart, results in a peace that passes all understanding, and moves externally by our finding our place in the world. As we approach Lent, I ask you to change your habits just enough to hear that still, small voice of God. In today’s collect we pray, “O God who before the passion of your Son revealed his glory on the Holy Mount, that we may we be strengthened to bear his cross.” As the world has moved closer to a World War, we need to remember the great toll the previous wars had on humanity. We need to see these wars with new eyes and ears so that they are never repeated. Please pray with me every day for the people of Ukraine and for world peace. Please pray daily as we approach another Lenten season.
Christian discipleship consists of the discipline of self-denial and taking up the cross daily. It is refraining from the narcissistic self-indulgence and from feeding the superficial false ego to self-destruction. It is rather embracing my true self, the true image of God reflected in the depth of my soul. It’s a daily journey of self-discovery as a child of God and a daily walk toward a spiritual union with God (Bishop Allen Shin).
When Jesus came down off the mountain, he loved those who were most in need of love, healed those who were most in need of healing, gave water to those who were the most thirsty and food to the hungry. He taught us about what the Greeks called agape love and what the Jewish people call hessed. Jesus came to teach us a way of loving one another. May we gather together on Ash Wednesday at 7pm at St. John’s or on Zoom. May we attend service regularly during Lent. Please join our bible study, Morning Prayer, Lenten retreat and Tuesday night programs during Lent. May we refrain from letting our anger turn to vengeance in the world and allow the lovingkindness of our Lord to fill our hearts.
In Christ’s love,
Friday, February 18 2022
“I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:27-31)
What Jesus wants you to hear today is about the love and mercy of God. Let’s not start by thinking about who we despise, but look at ourselves. God is compassionate even when we are undeserving. God’s lovingkindness is called hessed in Hebrew. We know this way of being because we know the grace and mercy that God gives to each of us. We are loved with God’s unconditional agape love.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Love is understanding, redemptive goodwill for all people, so that you love everybody, because God loves them. You refuse to do anything that will defeat an individual, because you have agape in your soul. And here you come to the point that you love the individual who does the evil deed while hating the deed that the person does. The key to loving enemies is to resist the urge toward vengeance. When we show kindness, we provide opportunities for redemption. Love has redemptive power. It has the power to transform and to change both the lover and the beloved. This is our path into the Trinitarian life. The love between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit, and that same Spirit rests with us, giving us power to love in the face of all kinds of worldly evils.” (A Knock at Midnight p. 49)
Most of us understand the concept of unconditional love. Married couples vow to love one another unconditionally. This understanding of love leads us to the speech of prayer. We pray for those we love and those we don’t love to receive the blessing of God. God asks us to take the radical next step to literally act towards people that hate us with lovingkindness. This is very counterintuitive. Let me approach it in another direction. God’s lovingkindness begins with a deep love of Jesus Christ and the reciprocal love that God gives to us even when we are not deserving at times in our lives. Today’s lesson teaches us that even when we mess up, God loves us deeply. When we walk away, God calls us back and when we come again, God gives us a hero's welcome like the prodigal son received. God is good, all the time.
Love as you are loved by God. Forgive others as you are forgiven. Pray for those that hurt you. Love your enemies and act accordingly. The reward of lovingkindness of those who hate us is that we become the children of the most high. We begin to see the good in all people and in all things. When we love our enemies we possess the redemptive power that can restore individuals and people to the love of God. This power can overcome racism, sexism, and the problems of our day. This power can overcome our divided nation and maybe even our government. Ghandi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
In Christ’s love,
Friday, February 11 2022
“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you,
revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven;
for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. (Luke 6:20-24)
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus gives a passionate teaching to all who will listen. Most of us know this as the Sermon on the Mount, but today, Jesus is sitting on level ground teaching his disciples, all who have gathered to hear him speak, and those who are trying to touch him in order to get healed. In fact, Jesus is speaking to all people in all times. We all hear these words again and again. Some of this teaching is very difficult to understand, but one verse stands out to me as a summary of all the rest. Even my nursery school children know this verse from scripture. They know it as the “golden rule.” We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. While this is a simple rule to understand, Jesus turns the perspectives of world upside down in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus will cross boundaries, break religious rules, and cause people to be so uncomfortable that they will nail him to a cross to suffer and die. We must also push the boundaries of our own understanding, if we are ever to truly understand these radical teachings from Jesus.
The truth that God loves each and every one of us and that through the transforming grace of God in heaven, through the incarnation of God coming down to us and being both fully divine and fully human, we too can go into the deep water and meet the Risen Lord. Jesus is able to kindle a fire of love in our hearts that we may shine that light to all people. Please take some time to listen carefully to the Gospel of Luke over these next six months. I truly believe that this Gospel has something to say to you that can change your life and make you a beacon of hope. We will see God’s redemptive purposes, hear about God’s saving grace offered to all, learn about the dangers of loving money and material things, feel the blessings of poverty, and learn how to be a disciple, sent out into the world to be an authentic witness of God’s truth.
I spent the week at Holy Cross Monastery to deepen my relationship with Jesus Christ. Each day we spent the majority of the day giving praise to God and praying for the world. I give thanks for Coral and Deacon Claire for covering for me at St. John’s. I give thanks to my wife for letting me have a week of obedience, humility, and silence with the Benedictine Monks.
Please take a look at all the offerings that we have at St. John’s during Lent:
Ash Wednesday - Imposition of Ashes
March 2, 2022 at 7:00 pm in church and via zoom
Monday - Friday at 9 am via Zoom
Mondays at 6:30 pm via Zoom
Tuesdays at 11 am via Zoom
Lenten Series- "Living Beyond the Borders"
Tuesdays in Lent via Zoom
March 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th, April 5th - 1:00 pm & 7:00 pm
The Rev. Canon David Ulloa Chavez, Canon for Border Ministries for the Diocese of Arizona, will lead a five-part series referencing the book The US Immigration Crisis by Miquel de la Torre. For our 2022 Lenten Series we will partner with St. Francis of the Valley. The program will be offered at 1:00 pm and 7:00 pm to accommodate our different time zones. You are welcome to join at either time. At St. John's, we will begin with Stations of the Cross at 6:00 pm, Evening Prayer at 6:30 pm. The program will be from 7:00-8:30 pm.
In person Lenten Retreat - Quiet Day with Bishop Wolf
Saturday, March 12, 2022, 9:30 am - 12:00 pm
The Rt. Rev. Geralyn Wolf, Assistant Bishop of Long Island, will lead a Lenten quiet day of reflection and prayer at St. John's. We will meet in the Great Hall, there will also be an option to Zoom in. Suggested donation $15.
In Christ’s love,
Friday, February 04 2022
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:3)
I would like to thank all our parishioners who made this year deeply spiritual for one another. The Rev. Claire Mis, Deacon has certainly been an inspiration to all of us. Thank you to everyone who attended her ordination at the cathedral or on Zoom. Our Morning Prayer group mets every weekday at 9 AM and prayed for our friends, neighbors, and for all in need. Prayer is the foundation of everything we do at St. John’s. Thank you for your leadership, your generosity, your ministry, and your continued faith in Jesus Christ. We are very blessed by your presence. I would also like to thank Coral, who has done an outstanding job as our administrator, Alex our talented musician and choir director, Jen, our St. John’s Nursery School superintendent, and our warden, Scott, who has led this parish with our vestry and committee chairs. May God continue to bless your ministries!
“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:1-2)
This week our service times on Sunday are 8:00 am and 10:00 am and we will have our annual meeting after the late service. Please join us for our annual meeting on Zoom. We will elect two wardens and three vestry members. Please let me know if you would like to be a delegate to Diocesan Convention. Our theme for this year’s Annual Meeting is from Philippians 2:1-11. I ask you to read this passage before our service and Annual Meeting on Sunday and think about the question: “What does it mean to be of one mind in Jesus Christ?” My hope for the coming year is that you will deepen your faith and love in Jesus Christ and deepen your fellowship at St. John’s. Please live out your Baptismal Covenant by coming to church, worshiping with us on Zoom, helping those in need in our community, donating to our Thrift Shop, volunteering in our Thrift Shop, striving for justice by supporting our racial reconciliation and social justice committee, and getting involved in a ministry of St. John’s such as our Altar Guild.
I ask each committee to personally invite new members to join their group. If you are a new member or would like to help out please consider joining our Altar Guild, EFM, Racial Reconciliation and Justice Committee, HiHi, Thrift Shop, ECW, Lay Eucharistic Ministers, Youth Group, Christian Education, Readers, Spirituality Group, Nursery School Steering Committee, Ushers, Lay Eucharistic Visitors, Prayer Shawl Ministry, St. Hilda’s Guild, Laundry Love, or one of our other committees. Please talk to Deacon Claire about joining our mission team as we prepare for our trip to the Arizona border on October 24-31. In 2023 we will travel to Puerto Rico in early July and to Iona Scotland in the fall for a wonderful pilgrimage with Leslie Valentine.
Our Sunday school starts again next week at 9:45am in the St. Hilda’s Guild Room. 1st Communion classes are beginning soon with Sue McGinnis on Wednesdays at 5:00 and 1st Communion will be May 1st at the 10:00 service. Confirmation classes start on Sunday February 27th at 5:30pm. Confirmation is April 30th at 10:00am at our Cathedral in Garden City.
Next Week, February 13th is the Souper Bowl of Caring and our Youth Group is collecting donations to fight hunger in the Huntington Community. Please donate for our local food pantries, bring in food for the Food Pantry, or drop off Feminine Products. If you are interested in volunteering for the Thrift shop on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Saturdays, please drop by from 12-3.
In Christ’s love,
Rev. Duncan Burns