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The Chalice
Sunday, April 25 2021

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever (Psalm 23).

Today we are back in John’s Gospel. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Jesus is the Word of God made flesh that we might know that Jesus is our redeemer, God’s son. John uses the metaphor of the good shepherd that we might understand the relationship between us and our Lord. God came to us that we might have abundant life in him. We are called into relationship with Jesus Christ through the breaking of Bread and the scriptures. Psalm 23 tells us that when we walk through the racism, sexism, individualism, and ungodliness of this present age, Jesus, the good shepherd will walk with us. God will walk with us through this pandemic and into the higher plane of the Beloved Community, if we will stop to hear his voice.

I urge every member to develop a deep relationship through worship, prayer, and service to the Living God. Join us daily as we walk together with our Lord at 9AM through Morning Prayer. If you are going through a difficult time, we will stand beside you and pray with you until we all reach the Promised Land. Follow the path of righteousness that Jesus has laid before us and have your soul restored. We will make it through this difficult time back to green pastures because God loves us and walks with us on this perilous journey through the desert. Please do not be afraid. If we have ever walked through the shadow of death, it has been this last year. Notice the word "through"! This is not where we end up. Please know that there are green pastures and still waters ahead once we get through this pandemic.

Please walk with one another through the last of this pandemic by calling and visiting one another as you are vaccinated and are able. Join us next week on Tuesday at 6:30pm for a meeting of our Lay Eucharistic Ministers and Visitors. We will be offering another class so that you can be certified to take Holy Communion to our shut ins. Come to the church when you feel comfortable and help us recycle cloths in the Thrift Shop. We are trying to be open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, but we need more help. Nancy and our Thrift Shop team really need your assistance! You can offer one day or come every week. Please join us.

Please remember that this week we celebrated Earth Day. Plant some flowers or a tree in the coming weeks. Pick up some garbage or plastic if you see it. Commit yourself to recycling, reducing your carbon footprint and caring for this planet each and every day. St. John’s is committed to environmental stewardship! Our solar panels have given us a zero-sum electric bill in the new section of the church. We have invested wisely and the dividends are both financial and environmental. Please recycle all paper at the church and help us to reduce our consumption.

In Christ’s love, 

Fr. Duncan

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Posted by: Rev. Duncan A. Burns AT 12:06 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, April 16 2021

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.

They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.

They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!”

Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them

in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:30-36).

Jesus is on the loose! As they are telling the story about the road to Emmaus in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus appears to all of them and says, “Peace be with you.” They look at Jesus like he is a ghost. Jesus eats a piece of fish and tells them about how his death and resurrection was all part of God’s plan. Thus is it is written that the Messiah is to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance and forgiveness of sins are to be proclaimed in his name to all nations. Everyone must realize that Christ died that we might have new hope and new possibilities. Christ’s resurrection was part of God’s plan to convince us to follow Christ and change the world to God’s love. We are the marks in the hands and the sides that are the proof of Christ’s resurrection.

Church has to be more than just a place we worship on Sunday morning. We need to be a vital part of the community. As we emerge from this pandemic, lots of folks will be looking to re-establish the connections that they have lost in the past year. We have a golden opportunity to show our hospitality to newcomers and old friends. God is working in ways that we can’t even ask or imagine. Feel his presence in the breaking of the bread. Open your eyes to the presence of the Lord in our midst, not just on Sundays, but as you prepare meals for the sick, hunger for peace and justice, help the naked by serving in our thrift shop, help our community through Laundry Love, visit those who cannot be with us, care for those in prison, feed those who are hungry through our local food pantries, and most of all to show hospitality to all those who join our zoom, Facebook stream, or enter our church. This week, we will contact all Lay Eucharistic Visitors and ask you if you are ready to start visitations again in June or July. Please let Coral know if you are interested in visiting members of our parish that have been isolated by the pandemic. Nancy is looking for lots of help in the thrift shop. If you are interested in helping with any of our ministries at St. John’s, please let me know. Alex will be coming back to St. John’s on May 23rd. Please let him know if you would like to sing in person. The pandemic has done great harm to many in our community and the church needs to be the loving arms of Christ to those in pain. Christ is on the loose at St. John’s because we are loved, forgiven, and empowered by God. May your hearts burn with passion as you proclaim the Gospel and serve the community.

In Christ's love,

Fr. Duncan

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Posted by: Rev. Duncan A. Burns AT 01:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, April 09 2021

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)

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. 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 or exhausted by this pandemic, when we lose a loved one, when we have difficulties at work, when we are fighting sickness or disease, or when we 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. 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus goes to the disciples and said. “Peace be with you.” The cornerstone of every thing we believe is Jesus Christ because he came back after dying on a Christ to let us know that death has no dominion over us. In other words, God is telling us that even though things looked bad on Easter morning, “It is well.” God’s peace is that feeling that although we struggle during this pandemic, we have hope. What Mary and the disciples have seen and heard, enables us to be in fellowship with God and one another. The peace of God is relationship with Jesus Christ and one another. At St. John’s we witness our fellowship through our hospitality to others. Even though we cannot feed our visitors in the Parish Hall, we can invite others to zoom or stream our daily prayer or Sunday services with one another. We can do that by sharing our facebook live services. We can share the light of Christ to others by sharing our concerts, inviting folks to take Sacred Ground, sending a link to our morning prayer, or praying for one another every day.

                      

People come to us with their children and ask us to baptize them in Easter. Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ's Body the Church. The World Council of Churches defined Baptism as “the sign of new life through Jesus Christ” and described baptism as the “entry into the New Covenant between God and God’s people” St. John’s is the living faith that has been passed down to every generation since Mary, Peter, John and the disciples. It is our responsibility to teach the Word of God and Baptize the next generation. This is a more difficult task than it once was. We need every member of our congregation to proclaim that Christ is Risen and all will be well! 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,

Fr. Duncan

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Posted by: Rev. Duncan A. Burns AT 01:03 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, April 02 2021

“Some years ago in the last century George McLeod, returned from fighting in the First World War; a war that he came to realize was fought for no good reason. He eventually became ordained, and founded the Iona Community, and at one point he said this about this faith that we hold as followers of Jesus: I simply argue that the cross be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves, on the town garbage dump, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan that they had to write his title in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. It was the kind of place where cynics talk smut, thieves curse, soldiers gamble. That’s where he died. And that’s where we as Christians ought to be and what we as Christians ought to be about” (Presiding Bishop Curry).

It has been a full year since many of our parishioners have been at church at St. John’s. This has been very bittersweet. Some folks have been unable to connect to the virtual services and have fallen away from church. Some folks were already in the process of falling away before the pandemic. The experts say that between 20 percent and 30 percent of the members will not return to your church.

Yet at St. John’s, I get the sense that our community has gotten stronger during this pandemic. Morning Prayer, Bible Study, Spirituality Group, outreach, zoom services, streaming, Prayer shawl ministry, and in person services are all trending up. In addition, many parishioners have increased their giving to those in need. Our bulletin board is loaded with thank you letters and cards from grateful folks in our community. We have also worked really hard on racial reconciliation and have attracted many newcomers through our Sacred Ground program.

I attribute our success with the love we have for Jesus Christ and our willingness to share what we have with others. I see the most important trends so far at St. John’s to be increased bonds between parishioners, deeper relationships with Jesus Christ, a greater hunger and thirst for justice, and a willingness to go out into the community. As we celebrate Easter this Sunday and move towards the celebration of Pentecost on May 23rd, I ask you to ponder the words of our Presiding Bishop and look for Jesus in the poor, naked, thirsty, hungry folks in our streets.

My sincere thanks to everyone who has contributed to Holy Week services by giving your time, talent, and treasure. In the weeks and months ahead we will begin to assemble again in person as one body in Christ. Many of us have a pent up desire to be together in church and at coffee hour. Nelly mentioned the other day at Morning Prayer that Jesus is with us even in the darkest of times. Jesus will be with us as we get back together in church and he will be with us when we go out into the community. May you have a blessed Easter and meet our Lord on your journey, so that you may say, like Mary, “I have seen the Lord.”

In Christ's Love,

Rev. Duncan A. Burns, Rector

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Posted by: Rev. Duncan A. Burns AT 01:06 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email