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The Chalice
Friday, October 30 2020

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

(Matt, 5:3-10 NRSV).

In 1980, I met a ninety year old neighbor named Old Man Stokes at our apartment complex. He used to love to listen to the Commodores and would ask me to turn up my stereo so that he could hear it from his balcony. His favorite song was “Unchained melody.” I used to talk to him about what it was like to grow up in the south at the turn of the century. He grew up doing the jobs that nobody else wanted to do to make a living. My favorite story that he used to tell was when he was a well digger as a young man. He would dig a hole about five feet in diameter and about twenty five feet deep. He would use a pick and a shovel to fill a bucket that was tied to a rope. They would use boards on each side to prevent the walls from collapsing, but that was always a danger. When the water was up to his waist, he would yell to his buddy to pull him out and they would fill the bottom of the well with small stones. Now those of us who are a little claustrophobic, ask, “How do you get out, if the walls cave in?” His answer was that, “you are completely dependent on the person holding onto the rope. Since they took turns digging, they needed to have faith in each other and to pay careful attention at all times to their buddy in the hole. If you have ever come to a situation in your life when you are looking up from the bottom of a hole, I hope you pray today’s Gospel from Matthew. Jesus offers us comfort in times of need.

The translation of the beatitudes in the Message also offers hope to all who are persecuted, sick, or in trouble that we might emerge from our experience with an even greater faith:

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom (Matt, 5:3-10).

In Christ’s love,
Fr. Duncan

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Posted by: Rev. Duncan A. Burns AT 12:43 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, October 23 2020

 “And the Second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’“ Matthew 22: 39

My child, please remember

In all whom you see

Do always your best

To see also Me.

For in every child

In every father and mother

In every girl and boy

Every sister and brother,

In each and every person

Whether young or old,

There lies a treasure

Yet often untold:

I love each one,

For each soul I did die;

So let the image of Me

Come to mind’s eye.

For if I love each one so,

I call you to love too;

As you desire to be treated,

Unto others also do.

Though they may not know Me,

Though they may be in sin,

New life in their hearts

At any time could begin.

So this is My call,

My will and My command,

To each person give love,

Reach out your hand.

As you love yourself

Love all who you meet,

Then you will feel My love,

Ever eternal and sweet.

Love one another

As I have loved you;

This, my precious child,

I call you now to do.

In serving your neighbor;

In loving one another;

You are surely My family,

My sister, my brother.

So, child please remember

In all whom you see

Open your eyes wide

To also see me.

Caroline Gavin 2013

Our call to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves is a reminder that our true mission in this world is to reach beyond the confines of the church building itself and be the church in the world. Church is indeed community, but not limited just to those who claim to be members of St. Johns. Our mission is to know Jesus and to make Him known, which requires us to reach out to those in our neighborhoods as well as the wider community to recognize the love that God has already planted in their hearts – even if they don’t know it. And by seeing that love, we can acknowledge that we all have God in common. Perhaps in that bond of love, we can, person by person, share Christ and grow His love in our world. One step…outside of our comfort zone, and God’s beautiful dream for God’s people grows and flourishes.

In Christ’s Love,
Claire Mis, Seminarian

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Friday, October 16 2020

They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

1 Timothy 6:18-19 NRSVA

This week, we sent out our annual pledge cards so that the vestry could plan the budget for next year. I humbly ask you to pray about your stewardship at St. John’s, fill out your pledge card, and send it to the office. Stewardship should be a joyful celebration of giving back to God what God has already given us. “God’s initiative is always to bless, and that blessing is never earned, it is freely given. Christians primarily know the blessing of God’s grace in the gift of our baptism. The Book of Common Prayer tells us that in our baptism the bond that is established cannot be dissolved. We share the same blessing given to Jesus in his baptism: 'This is my beloved, in you I’m well pleased.' By virtue of our baptism, we are blessed to be a blessing. We, in turn, bless God by offering praise and thanksgiving for the goodness of gifts given. To worship God is to offer something of value. We offer praise and thanksgiving not only with our lips but with our lives. The annual pledge campaign can be an opportunity to bless God and bless the community from the offerings of the labor of our lives. Through our commitment to proportional giving, we offer a pledge of thanksgiving for all we have received and for all we will become as we grow into the image of Christ” (Blessed to be a blessing). 

Give of your time, talent and treasure to God because you truly believe that Christ died that you might have abundant life. When a heart is filled with the love of God, the desire to give a portion back comes from deep within, not from a rational sense of obligation. We use the gifts that God has given us to do the work God is calling us to do. God will never ask you to do anything unless God provides the means for you to do it. You should give proportionately to God what God has given to you. If you have time, give of your time. If you have talent, give of your talent. If you have treasure, give of your treasure. God wants to bring you to wholeness in your life. Give from your heart and St. John’s will serve this community with generosity as we have for the past 275 years. Both for the individual and for the community, stewardship is a joyful act for the sake of God's world. Please give joyfully from your heart. God is well pleased when we give in this manner and will provide everything we need to do the work that God calls us to do.

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 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.

In Christ’s love,

Rev. Duncan Burns

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Friday, October 09 2020

“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” (Philippians 4:4-7).

Paul asks us to pray for one another in times of trouble. The early church had strong divisions very much like the divisions that exist today in our church and in the nation. We are asked to do everything in thankfulness. Each day I give thanks for this community and the way we support one another and the folks that live around us. While many are fighting with one another, we must press forward in the love of God. Bishop Curry tells us that, “The way of love is a commitment to seeking the good and well-being of others” (Love is the Way p.242). We all know the bible verse, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son” (John 3:16). This word love is translated from the Greek word agape. Bishop Curry defines agape love as “sacrificial love that seeks the good and well-being of others, of society, of the world” (Love is the way p. 14). He goes on to tell us that love is a verb that is meant to be fierce. Jesus told us that, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s own life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). We are starting our second session of Sacred Ground and I am thankful for all those that have continued to support this program as we continue on our journey to becoming a beloved community. This month I ask all parishioners to support our Harvest Fair any way you can. Buy your raffle tickets, donate a basket, help mark the White Elephant merchandize, buy some Vermont Cheese or St. Hilda’s handmade gifts.  

Today’s Gospel invites all of us to the heavenly banquet, but warns us to be wearing a wedding robe. A white robe represents our intention to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord, respect, and follow him by changing the way we live our life. We do this not for the church, but for our soul. Jesus offers forgiveness to all those who turn from sin. John Wesley said that all are called to glory, but we have a claim to glory only through the righteousness of Christ. Only through our faith in his redeeming grace, can we be saved from sin, made holy, and find everlasting life. We know that we are invited to the banquet, but how do we put on this wedding robe so that we will be holy in God’s sight at the heavenly banquet? We begin with the understanding that we were formed in the image of God’s love and given the whole world into our care. Unfortunately, throughout our history we have turned from God and each other. The Good News of the Gospel is 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. God has forever shown his unconditional love for us and we are invited to attend the heavenly banquet by following the way of love. Presiding Bishop Curry asks us to walk in newness of life through the love of God, through the redeeming grace of Jesus, and through the power of the Holy Spirit. “Love can help and heal when nothing else can. Love can lift up and liberate when nothing else will. May God love you and bless you" (Love is the Way p. 248).

In Christ’s love,
Fr. Duncan

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Posted by: Rev. Duncan A. Burns AT 12:05 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email