Friday, April 29 2022
“The story of Jesus as he goes to the cross is the story we all know: the story of what happens when our vision of the world and of ourselves come crashing down. Jesus comes to the place, not where the signposts originally appear to be pointing, but where they have collapsed… we find that the God who we might have hoped would meet us in the place to which justice, love, freedom and truth had pointed has instead come to meet us in the place where justice, love, freedom and truth were denied and trampled upon. Our place. Our broken place. Our broken world” (NT Wright).
The Creator of the universe launches a new way of living (the Kingdom of God) in a tiny manger. Jesus is born as fully human and fully divine to show us the truth that God hears our cries and sends Jesus that we might have life and live it abundantly. Jesus eats with sinners, brings hope to the dispossessed, gives living water to the thirsty, feeds the hungry, and brings wholeness to those who are broken. Jesus is sentenced, tortured, and suffers a cruel and horrible death. Several women witness his resurrected body and he appears to a few folks on the road to Emmaus. Jesus appears to Doubting Thomas and the other disciples. Then he appears to several hundred others and God’s new order is launched. Later, Jesus appeared to Paul and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. We wake up this morning to a broken world to a God who still listens to our cries. God sends Jesus to us when we are hurting and to those places in the world where God’s love is needed.
When I interviewed in graduate school, the first question they asked me was, “who in the bible can you relate to and why?” I answered, “Peter.” There was a long pause. Dr. Akma opened his eyes wide, shook his head, and asked, “Why?” I stumbled and stuttered and said, “None of this makes any sense to me. My wife, three kids, and a dog are leaving great jobs, a beautiful home, good friends, and a happy life, but I feel in my heart that this is where Jesus is calling me. So here I am, even though I really don’t have a good answer for you.” Later I would learn the Gospel story of Peter. Peter was a fisherman, who lived with his wife in Capernaum. He shared a house with his mother-in-law and his brother, Andrew. They had their own boat and were friends with the Zebedee boys, James and John, Jesus called to them from the shore and said, “Would you like to change the world.” Jesus later asks Peter, "Who do YOU say that I am?” Peter said, “You’re the Christ," he said, "the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16: 15 -16). When Jesus spoke of being tortured and killed and on the third day raised again, Peter said, "God forbid, Lord. This shall never happen," and that's when Jesus said to him. "Get behind me, Satan" (Matthew 16:21-23). One day Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and tried to walk out on water, but he lost his nerve and began to sink. (Matthew 14:28-31). At their last supper, when Jesus started to wash the disciples' feet, it was Peter who protested--"You will never wash my feet!" "Listen, listen," Jesus said, "the cock won't crow till you've betrayed me three times" (John 13:36-38).
In today’s Gospel, Jesus goes to Peter’s favorite beach. He is a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, and Peter and his friends loved to cook some of their fish on a charcoal fire on the shore. Jesus stands at Peter’s happy place and calls out to him. When Peter figures out that it is his Risen Lord on the beach, he throws on his tunic, jumps off the boat, and swims to shore. Jesus asks him three times if he loves him and three times, Peter tells him that he loves him. Jesus then tells him to feed my sheep. If we are to launch the Kingdom of God here at St. John’s, let us begin with the words, “Here I am Lord” say the words, “You know that I love you, Lord” and let us end by following Jesus to the broken places in the world.
In Christ’s love,
Friday, April 22 2022
Sunday, April 17 2022
Far be it from me to not believe.
Even when my eyes can't see
And this mountain that's in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea…
So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name…
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well with me…
It is well, it is well, with my soul
(“It Is Well", Kristene DiMarco).
In this week’s bible study, Paul tells the good folks in Philippi that sometimes things go well and sometimes things don’t go well, but Jesus Christ always sustains the believer. I know that the war in Ukraine, inflation, and this ongoing pandemic are taking their toll on many of us. In the song, “It is Well” performed by Kristene DiMarco, we get a glimpse of the hope that God offers us. Despite our failings and the difficulties that we face, our relationship with Christ gets us through the toughest of times. When we are tired of this pandemic, lose a loved one, have difficulties at work, are fighting sickness or disease, or struggle with depression, it is a comfort to know that Christ came to know and feel our pain. Our faith in God’s redeeming hope gives us the strength to go on even when there are mountains in front of us. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is proof that death does not hold a grip on us. One day we will all be accountable for our lives, but what a blessing that we are forgiven of all our sins and are offered new life in Jesus Christ.
It is well with my soul when I see children in Sunday school, our confirmation class, our youth group and the first communion class hungry and thirsty for the love of Jesus Christ. It is well with my soul when we have individuals like Deacon Claire, Ford Spilsbury, Christine Dore, Laura Wickey, and Sue McInnis who are willing to proclaim their faith to our children. It is well with my soul when we invite newcomers to the coffee hour to share a meal together. It is well with my soul when our Thrift Shop is thriving.
As we share a meal at the Lord’s table, at coffee hour, and anytime when we get together as a congregation to share a meal, please be aware that the Risen Christ is present with us. People come to us with outstretched hands every Sunday looking for the bread that will fulfill their hunger and the drink that will quench their thirst. The bread of life is a tangible taste of God’s love for us. The bread is broken as Christ was sacrificed for our sins. We are called to have faith God comes again and again to make us whole. So celebrate the resurrection with zeal and passion. There is nothing in the world that can make you whole in troubled times like the love of God in the resurrected Christ.
My hope is that our love and relationship with Jesus Christ will open the eyes of our faith to see his redeeming work. I know that God loves us all and sent his son that we might have life and live it abundantly. Jesus Christ came to redeem us from being self-absorbed and selfish. By looking outward to others instead of inward toward ourselves, we can become the Easter people that God created us to be.
In Christ’s love,
Rev. Duncan Burns
Friday, April 08 2022
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.
We celebrate the Eucharist by remembering the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The prayer of remembrance is called the Anamnesis. This Greek word for remembrance comes from one who has lost their amnesia. Those who have lost their identity or purpose need to re-member what God has done for them and to know that they are unconditionally loved by God. I urge you to call your friends and family who have wandered from the church and invite them to re-member that “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).
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. They are also the time when many people who have been away, come back to church. This year we ask all our parishioners to join us at our Holy Week Services in the church or online. Bishop Wolf will be at our 10:00 Palm Sunday Service. We meet in the Great Hall, then process with our palms through the Garden of Blessings into the church singing Hosannah in the highest! Hosannah!
Maundy Thursday is a simple service in the tradition of the last supper. We begin our evening at 5:30pm with a zoom Christian Seder. The Gospel from John is read and we wash each other’s feet at the 7:30pm service. The service ends with a dramatic stripping of the altar and we begin a prayer vigil through the night.
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. At 7pm we have a zoom and in-person Stations of the Cross followed by a 7:30pm Good Friday service in the church, on Facebook and on zoom. We pray in silence and ponder the incredible love of God in the act of Jesus death on the cross for our sins.
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. Easter Sunday Services are in the church at 7:30am, 9:00am, and 11am or on zoom. .The children will celebrate with an Easter egg hunt. We will proclaim the resurrection. The 11:00am service will feature the steel drum band from St. Augustine’s. 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 as many Holy Week services as you are able, to invite guests and to welcome everyone with open arms.
In Christ’s love,
Friday, April 01 2022
“Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair” (John 12:1-3).
Barbara Brown Taylor, calls this display by Mary "an act so lavish that it suggests another layer to her prophecy: there will be nothing prudent or economical about the death of this man, just as there has been nothing prudent or economical about his life. In him, the extravagance of God's love is made flesh. In him, the excessiveness of God's mercy is made manifest." We heard last week about the extravagance of the father who celebrated the return of the prodigal son by giving him the finest robe, a ring, and the fatted calf. The point of last week’s Gospel is that the radical love of God is unfathomable and God’s mercy is unbounded. I love the extravagance of our faith during the next couple of weeks. Please try to be a part of it. We pray for the joy and hope of the Lord to fill our hearts. I give thanks to all of you who will work so diligently in the coming weeks. We could not do what we do at St. John’s without you.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus goes back to the place where he raised his friend Lazarus from the dead. Extravagant moves like bringing people back from the dead are bound to get noticed and Jesus is now considered dangerous and a serious threat to the status quo and the powerful men that benefit from keeping things as they are. We are six days before the Passover and just a few miles from Jerusalem. Jesus knows that his days are numbered and only hopes that his disciples can grasp the situation.
Martha cooks up a nice dinner and Jesus sits down with Lazarus. Mary does her disappearing act and comes back with a costly bottle of sweet smelling ointment that was used for burial. Mary anoints the feet of Jesus and wipes them with her hair. Mary is extravagantly showing her love of Jesus on one of his last few days.
Let us each show hospitality and grace to all those who will visit us over the holiday. On Palm Sunday, our confirmation class will read the passion. Bishop Wolf will be with us at the 10:00 service. Please gather in the Parish Hall before the service so we can process with our palms into the church. On Maundy Thursday, we will have a Seder at 5:30PM on Zoom and at 7:30PM we will have our “normal” Maundy Thursday service with footwashing and the stripping of the altar. On Good Friday, we will have Stations of the Cross at 7:00PM and Good Friday service at 7:30PM. Easter Sunday will be in in the Garden of Blessings at 7:30AM. We will light a fire and bring the light of Christ into our church. The family service is at 9:00AM with an Easter Egg hunt after the service. At 11:00AM we will celebrate Easter with the St. Augustine’s Steel Drum Band. Please join us in person or on zoom for all services except the Seder.
In Christ’s love,