Friday, May 07 2021
“I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you,
and that your joy may be complete.
This is my commandment,
that you love one another as I have loved you.”
On the second Sunday of May we honor our mothers. For those still blessed with their mother, we try to give thanks to them in person. Last week I mentioned that agape love is the unconditional, abiding love that God shows us. This is expressed in the person of Jesus Christ and demonstrated in the relationship of the Father and the Son. Yet for many of us, this is demonstrated to us by the love that we are shown from our own mother. For me, I treasure the example of Christ’s love that my mother has shown to me in my lifetime. For those who no longer have your mother, I hope you give thanks and treasure the memories that become more precious with each passing day.
This week in the church, we celebrate the lives of two wonderful saints who were both mothers. Julian of Norwich was an English mystic who taught that divine love could best be expressed with motherly love. She wrote one of the first and certainly one of the best known books in the English language written by a mystic, Revelations of Divine Love. During her lifetime, the city of Norwich suffered the devastating effects of the Black Death, which affected large parts of England in 1381. Mother Julian fell seriously ill and she thought she was on her deathbed. She received a series of visions of the Passion of Christ. Her perspective of a mother and a mystic is somewhat lacking in scripture, but we find several good examples. The prophet Isaiah asks, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you” (Isaiah 49:15).
The Catholic theologian, St. Augustine knew the love of God through his mother, Monica. We celebrated the life of Monica this week as a saint and mother on Tuesday. Augustine remembered in his book Confessions that his inner life was dominated by the love that his mother, Monica had for him. Augustine speaks of his mother as follows, “In the flesh she brought me to birth in this world: in her heart she brought me to birth in your eternal light” (Confessions). In the temporal world, his mother lived her whole life for that one moment when her son would come to the eternal life of Christianity. She stayed with him in prayer at every turn of his life. She told Saint Augustine, "There was one reason, and one alone, why I wished to remain a little longer in this life, and that was to see you a Christian before I died"(Confessions).
For me, I knew God’s love before I knew God through the love of my mother. Her constant care, prayer, and love have been consistent through my whole life. With the same unconditional love that God loves us, we can love one another. At times in my life and certainly in the life of St. Augustine, we walk in paths that are divergent to that agape love, living for ourselves and unappreciative of those who love us. By the grace of God we eventually find our way and turn back to God. This is also important to remember if some of our moms have not always lived up to our own expectations. We forgive them as they forgive us.
Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms! Thank you for everything you do. Thanks be to God whose perfect love can be seen in the Gospel through Jesus Christ. All praise and glory be to you forever and ever.
In Christ’s love,
Sunday, May 02 2021
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:9-12)
We are called to love one another as God has loved us. We need to be a reflection of God’s love to one another. I am very thankful for being in the midst of such a terrific group of people that really care about each other and those who are less fortunate in our community. If you are a new member, please call the church and set up a meeting with the rector. We are starting to get back together at St. John’s and I am always open to visits. If you are a parishioner already and would like to meet me, please set up a time with Coral in the office. We have 10 Lay Eucharistic Visitors that have just been assigned parishioners to take home communion to. If you know of anyone in need of home communion, please let me know. Please let Coral or Christine Dore know if you would like to read at one of our services. This may be done from home or in church, starting on May 23rd. We are setting up a schedule in June for acolytes, readers, MC’s, Lay Eucharistic Ministers and ushers.
Alex is back in New York and has received his first vaccination. I can’t thank Alex and our choir enough for the wonderful music that they have produced during this pandemic. He will be playing in person at Holy Eucharist Rite II services starting on May 23rd at 10:00. This service will include a zoom and a Facebook stream. The 8:00 Rite I service will also have pre-recorded music, a zoom and a Facebook stream.
Our Racial Reconciliation and Social Justice Committee met last night to discuss our next steps at St. John. We plan to run a third 10-week session of Sacred Ground in September. Last week, our facilitators met by zoom with the Presiding Bishop to hear the exciting new programs that churches are doing as their “next steps” in racial reconciliation. Please keep our committee in your prayers as we move forward
Our Thrift shop is getting ready to open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, but we need more folks to help. We are working on hanging and marking several times every week. Please contact Nancy or Coral if you are interested.
I would like to thank all the donors who have given to the 275th Anniversary Endowment and Capital Building Fund. We are starting another historic restoration project after May 15th to complete some pointing work on the bell tower and Garden of Blessing buttresses. We will also be replacing cracked bluestone on the steps and fixing the bottom of the stained glass windows. Thanks to a recent grant from Landmark Conservatory for $25,000 and a matching grant from our Bishop Provenzano and the Diocese, we will be able to get this work done very soon.
In Christ’s love,