"To know Christ and to make Him known . . . "
The Chalice
The Weekly Sunday Bulletin of St. John’s Episcopal Church 
Thank You God for Your Greatest Gift

I used to have a regular Sunday routine after church. Covid-19 has changed that routine drastically and my cardiologists has said “No visitations.” So now after Zoom services, it's time for the newspapers. Some sections can be discarded easily: automobiles (not interested), employment (don’t need it), business (don’t understand it), classifieds (don’t want it), store circulars (no coupons for what I buy—all that stuff about hair coloring and mascara). But the comics usually offer something, and when they don't I go to my files and last Sunday I discovered a Christmas piece that I had saved from 13 years ago. The strip is Mallard Filmore.

Mallard: “Wow! Look at this date! I think this is our traditional ‘Sunday before Christmas comic strip’”
Censor: “I hope it’s not going to be one of those ‘religious’ ones.”
Mallard: “Last time I checked Christmas was a ‘religious’ holiday.”
Censor: “But what if the cartoon makes some people uncomfortable?”
Mallard: “What’s that you always say about pornography: ‘they don’t have to read it’?”
Censor: “What if they’re just reading along and it sneaks up on them?”
Mallard (pen in hand): “WARNING! The following may offend the habitually offended: Thank you, God, for your greatest gift, and for a land in which we can worship him freely.”
Censor: “Can I open my eyes?”
Mallard: “Hey, why start now?”

Several significant elements present themselves in this exchange, the foremost of which is that the greatest gift we can receive is Jesus Christ. In the midst of the Christmas season, when our eyes are often focused elsewhere—existing in the midst of a pandemic, cleaning up the mess, surviving the pandemic, paying the bills acquired over the last fifty days, wondering about the vaccine—we are reminded by a CARTOONIST that the best present of all is Jesus. What an inspired connection this duck, this Mallard Fillmore, makes with today’s gospel from John: Jesus Christ, the eternal Word, is NOT merely an adjunct to the presents of Christmas morning, is NOT merely an appendage to often economic madness; rather, Jesus Christ is instead ultimate reality, ultimate fact, from the beginning and at the root of the universe, the one who says to each of us “Be not afraid.”

When the politically correct censor asks whether he can open his eyes, and Mallard responds, “Hey, why start now?” we are the ones who are targeted. As I sit with Susan, perhaps alone this year, sequestered, quaratined, my thoughts will turn often to the greatest gift that renders all other joys real. I open my eyes and behold, see and believe, because NOW is always the right time. The love of God, incarnate in Jesus Christ, bursts through the threat of the global pandemic and reminds me that I am a story whose chapters are being shaped and written by a God who chose to become like me, like you, so that we might become like him, by a God who says to each of us “Open your eyes and behold in my Son the greatest gift that the world has ever received.” The Christmas story of the birth of Jesus is significant part of our stories because how we respond to him shapes all else that we do and the world would like to keep that a secret; the birth of Jesus is a watershed in human history though the world would like us to see it as a “cleverly devised myth”; the birth of Jesus, God incarnate, transcends our understanding of time though the world would like us to be confined by clock and calendar.

A Christmas reminds me: “Jesus Christ was born to save…Christ was born to save.” Therein lay the entire purpose for Christmas: “God’s greatest gift” is the source of your redemption and mine. As Saint Paul wrote in the passage read from Galatians this morning: “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.”

Someone remarked once to a friend as they drove by a church that displayed a crèche outside the entrance, “O Lord! They bring religion into everything. Look—they’re even dragging it into Christmas now!” The Gospel of John reminds us that even such ignorant and cynical darkness will not quench the light of Christ; Saint Paul reminds us that we have been set free in Christ and made heirs of his kingdom; and exploding forth out of the darkness of the politically correct post-modern world, a comic strip duck reminds us that Jesus Christ is God’s greatest gift.

“Thank you, God, for your greatest gift.”

Fr. John+
Christmas Eve
Thursday, December 24th
Join us via Zoom and Facebook Live!
4:00 pm - Family Christmas Service with Pageant
9:15 pm - Christmas Service with beautiful music by St. John's Choir and special guest musicians
Join us in the Church
Face masks, social distancing, and registration are required at all in person services.
Please understand that all in person services are subject to cancellation by order of the Bishop or Governor.
8:00 pm - Rite II Christmas Service
11:00 pm - Rite I Christmas Mass

Christmas Day
Friday, December 25th
Join us via Zoom and Facebook Live
10:00 am - Christmas Day Service with beautiful music

There are no in-person services on Sunday, December 27, 2020. Please join us for one our remote services:

8:00 am - Rite II Morning Prayer

9:15 am – Rite II Morning Prayer with music 

Our next in-person, Sunday services will be on January 3, 2021. You may register for those services using the links below:

Please join us for a ZOOM coffee hour this Sunday at 10:00 am. Grab a cup of your own coffee and a snack, share some time with your friends at St. Johns. This will be an informal remote gathering where we can enjoy each other's company. Join Zoom Coffee Hour:

Enjoy the our Christmas Concert while you celebrate at home! Our annual Christmas Concert features many of St. John's talented musicians and some special guests!
We are re-broadcasting our concert via Facebook Live

Christmas Eve at 6:00 pm

Christmas Day at 11:30 am
Thank you so much for your generous spirit and continued support of the ministry of St. John’s. Please turn in your 2021 pledge card if you have not done so already. We are preparing our 2021 Budget, and pledges are vital of that process.

If you are financially able, please make sure your 2020 pledge is up to date
We have set up online giving. Using your credit card or a direct payment from your checking account, you will be able to make a one-time payment or set up recurring payments.

Or send a check made payable to "St. John's Episcopal Church" to 12 Prospect Street, Huntington, NY 11743.

To text your contribution (standard text message rates do apply):

Text SJEC1745 STEWARDSHIP $[Amount] to 73256.

Your stewardship is a commitment to sustaining St. John’s ministry today and going forward. Thank you for your continuing support!
Bible Study will not meet the week of December 27th. We will begin again on January 4th.
Morning Prayer will not meet on Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

Join us at 9:00 am for Morning Prayer, Monday - Thursday next week, via Zoom:

Meeting #: 83021762936
Please follow along with Mission St. Clare
We pray for all our doctors, nurses, and medical staff who put themselves at risk to care for us during this corona virus epidemic.

We pray for all our men and women serving in the armed services and all first responders who put themselves at risk every day, especially during this time. May God keep them safe and healthy, and return them home to their loved ones.

We pray for those who work for justice. May God give us all strength and wisdom to act for change when it is needed.

We pray for the sick: Kathy, Lynn, Fred, Ellen, Lucille, Frank and Theresa, Spencer and Sue, Tom and Stephanie, Peter, David, Nils, Margaret, Cheryl, Carol, CJ, George, Nichole, Roelie, Tom, Nelly, Marty, Irene and Jim, Debra and Carol, Bette, Justin, Hagai, Cassie, Bill, Amy, Kate, Fr. John, Amelia, Gladys, Christian, Jane, Diane, Robert Boise, Simon, May, Johanne, Katherine, Martha, Kathy and Harry, Susan, Ursula, Tyler, Allison, Al, Karen

The Perpetual Light is given this week in loving memory of Bertha Lasek by David and Nelly Lasek.

Please submit your prayers to cfreas@stjohnshuntington.org.

For pastoral care and prayer, please contact Fr. Duncan or Claire Mis, directly.
If you would like to remember a loved one or give thanks for an imporant event with altar flowers or Perpetual Light, Please complete an Altar Flower Form and return it to the Parish Office with your check made payable to "St. John's Altar Guild."