Friday, October 27 2023
Friday, October 20 2023
There are so many exciting things happening at St. John’s right now. Twenty one of our folks just returned from pilgrimage in Iona, Scotland. This weekend is our Harvest Fair! There will be concerts, vendors, great food, raffle baskets, St. Hilda’s Guild crafts, baked goods, Vermont cheese, Thrift shop clothes, lots of white elephant items, and much, much, more. Please attend the St. Augustine/St. John’s Choir concert at 4PM.
We are called to be generous in giving of our Time, Talent, and Treasure at St. John’s. Generous living is much more than what we do with our money. We are called to be kind to one another, to all living things, and to God’s earthly creation. We are called to deal with each other honestly and to be humble. Stewardship is a call to action to each of us as followers of Jesus. Jesus showed us the way to live generously: by welcoming the outcast, by overturning the tables of the money changers in the temple, by dining with the poor, by healing the sick, by teaching, by forgiving, and by ultimately giving his life so that all might have life abundant.
Each year, I am asked to preach and teach on stewardship. The fact is that if you put God first in your life, everything else will come in line. Of course we want to keep the building in good shape, hire a sexton, and give to the poor, but what is really important to me is your spiritual health. When your heart feels the redeeming love of God, you will naturally love others. When you feel the forgiving grace of God, you will naturally forgive others. When you realize that everyone is welcome in the Episcopal Church, you will want to show hospitality to everyone you meet. Stewardship is so much more than money and it is what makes St. John’s such a special place. We are like one big family and although we can be a little dysfunctional at times, our greatest gift is our hospitality. Please know that this is the greatest gift you can give to St. John’s. Before you put one dollar in the plate, please give of yourself that others might have life abundant.
We make a pledge each year to help the wardens and vestry make a budget for 2024. You will receive a pledge card in the mail this week and I ask you to prayerfully consider the gifts that you receive and ask you to make a pledge to St. John’s. If you have not received a pledge card yet, they are available on the table in the back of the church. We will collect pledge cards for the next three Sundays and bless them at the altar on November 5th on Loyalty Sunday. Each week, you will hear parishioners witness about what they love about St. John’s.
We are thankful for whatever you can pledge. In order to hire a sexton next year, we need to increase our pledges by about 5%. Please consider raising your pledge this year so that St. John’s may continue to grow and flourish. Another way you can help is to invite someone to St. John’s. Perhaps they can come to the Harvest Fair or join you on Sunday. It is a hard subject for most of us to bring up, but many people are frustrated with their own church and now is the perfect time to invite people to St. John’s.
I am so grateful for you. Your faithful membership at St. John’s and your generosity sustains our ministry and is a source of encouragement to me. I am always proud of the fantastic turn out at Harvest Fair and all the outreach and mission that we do. God bless you!
In Christ’s love,
Friday, October 13 2023
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:4-9).
I would like to thank Leslie, Rob, Sean, and every member of the team that made the pilgrimage to Iona, Scotland so amazing. We faced some obstacles, but we worked together in the beautiful space where Saint Columba spread Christianity throughout the region. We heard about and practiced Celtic Spirituality and learned about the history of the island. I found Iona to be filled with the presence of God and left with an experience of a deeply welcoming community that prioritized welcoming their guests, the care of the created world, and justice issues. They preached the love of Jesus, and they practiced what they preached. I was deeply moved by the sermon of the warden at the Sunday service and will try and share her thoughts on being gentle with one another and the land that we live in. Many of you know that we are deeply committed to the environment, outreach to those in need, to our children, and our vestry is working on ways to be even more meaningful in Huntington.
Please support our thrift shop by volunteering on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 12-3, bringing donations to the church, and shop at our thrift shop. We give a special thanks to Mary Beth who works tirelessly with her volunteers to make St. John’s Thrift Shop one of the best on Long Island. We need lots of help working in the Thrift Shop for the Harvest Fair.
St. John's Annual Harvest Fair will take place on Saturday, October 21st from 10AM to 4PM. This is an “all hands on deck” event. Join us by just coming down and lending a hand. New members are especially encouraged to join in. If you don’t know where to go, just head for the kitchen and you will work with lots of familiar faces. Please invite your friends and neighbors to attend. Our ECW will give a substantial portion of the proceeds to local charities. Help us to help others. God’s abundance is a feeling that what you do matters and that your life has meaning. God’s abundance includes our worship, our music, our community, our pastoral care and our physical buildings and property. In a time of despair and worry, God offers hope and contentment. In a time of enmity and separation, God offers love and unification. In a time of uncertainty, God offers us eternal life. By the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we know that God’s unending love for us is real and that God’s promises are true. I urge you to see your life as a precious gift from God and to give of your time, talent and treasure accordingly. Come to the Harvest Fair, and if you are able, come to the gospel concert at 4:00PM. St. Augustine’s Church will provide fabulous music and we should welcome them with open arms.
I am so grateful for you. Your faithful membership at St. John's and your generosity sustain our ministry and are a source of encouragement to me.
In Christ’s love,
Friday, October 06 2023
Something that was emphasized for me this week was the importance of seeking encounters and experiences in the world today. Travelling and music festivals are just two of the ways in which I feel my generation most popularly seeks encounters (and neither are wrong). Then again, the lax attitudes towards and legalization of marijuana and psychedelic drugs points to a need in our society to experience something “real” or mind-altering for the sake of self-improvement.
Of course, none of these things are new to the world, but their continued popularity points to the larger fact of human experience that we are always seeking out meaning, purpose, and contentment. We tend to also seek experiences that might already confirm what we think and know, hence the creation of echo chambers both in real life and on-line. Our faith in Jesus Christ presents us with an encounter with the one who made us and loved us first before anyone else. This is a very real encounter because we believe that He is still living.
This importance of encounter was talked about in the context of evangelism and the fact that we Christians have a history of evangelism through information. In this age of both mass information and needed encounters, how does a Christian get a word in edgewise? Perhaps we need to encounter Jesus Christ once again ourselves. The Gospel, while it is information as good news, is news about the encounter of God Incarnate with His people. This is life-changing news because it confronts us with an encounter that should motivate us more than any trip, abroad or in the home, can provide. It is the fullness of what is real and true and beautiful in this world offering us a very personal relationship, because it comes from the One who knows us.
Some questions to leave you with to meditate on: When was the last time you encountered Jesus Christ? What do you believe about what God has done, what He is doing, and what He will do in your life? How can I best witness to my encounter with Jesus to others?
Yours in Christ,