Week of May 24, 2020


Welcome to 
The Church of St. Paul and Incarnation!

An Episcopal / Anglican Parish
in the Heart of Jersey City







May 22, 2020
"The Blessing of In-Between Time"


Dear Friends,

Some of you know that Holy Saturday morning is perhaps my favorite moment of the entire church year. It is the ultimate in-between time, a space separating Good Friday and Easter, estrangement and reconciliation, despair and hope, death and life. I love the in-between time of Holy Saturday morning, when we can take stock of all that happened in the heartbreaking days leading up to the cross and prepare ourselves as best we can for Easter joy.

We are in a similar in-between time right now.

On the church calendar we are in a moment between the absence after the Ascension that we commemorated yesterday and the presence of the Holy Spirit that we will celebrate next Sunday. We are in the midst of a ten-day stretch of in-between time, the last days of the Easter Season, an opportunity to reflect on the best news of all time - Alleluia! Christ is risen! - and also a chance to recognize that we are never abandoned. The Holy Spirit continues to guide us, strengthen us, and protect us, no matter what.

And, this is also in-between time for all of us in the New York-New Jersey region. Thanks to social distancing and the incredible skill and dedication of healthcare workers, the rates of infection and the number of hospitalizations and deaths have all been steadily falling. At least for now, we are "flattening the curve." Hospitals are beginning to once again expand their range of services. The governors are allowing certain businesses to open. Traffic is getting heavier and, maybe it's my imagination but the air doesn't seem quite as clean as it was a couple of weeks ago. Many of us are eagerly and anxiously looking ahead to the future and the "new normal." But, when it comes to the virus and our life together, there are still many more questions than answers. Although there have been some promising studies, we don't know if a safe and effective vaccine will be available anytime soon. We don't know if the virus will flare up again in the fall, or even sooner. We're not even sure if people who have been infected are immune from reinfection. And, we have little idea when and how we will be able to safely gather once again in our beautiful church.

So, we mourn all that we've lost - so many lives, countless expectations and hopes, and our sense of security and normalcy. And, we look ahead with an uneven mix of uncertainty, fear, and hope. But, we've also been given the blessing of in-between time - a kind of Holy Saturday - a chance to reflect on what this crisis has revealed about our society, about our church, and about ourselves. We've been given this in-between time to look at how God might be at work in our time of trouble, how God is doing what God always does, transforming death into new life.

The pandemic has taught us lessons we should have already known:

The essential workers are the people who grow, slaughter, prepare, and serve our food; the people who scan our groceries and stock and clean our stores; the people who care for people in hospitals and nursing homes and the people who mop the floors and clean the bathrooms; the people who drive the buses and trains; the people who pick up our trash; the people whose job it is to run toward the dangers of crime and fire.

If one part of our society is sick then all of us are at risk. So, setting aside justice for a moment, it is dangerous when the people who serve us in stores and restaurants don't have health insurance and aren't able to take sick days. It's dangerous when our jails are packed with so many people. It's dangerous when corners of the media cynically spew out misinformation, questioning the risk of the virus while taking every precaution for themselves. And, it's dangerous when leaders ignore science and are concerned only with their political fortunes.

This pandemic has also taught us that people are good, generous, and resilient. The pandemic has revealed that our church is stronger than we may have thought. Thanks to the guidance, strength, and protection of the Holy Spirit, we continue to stick together, looking out for one another, and, yes, praying and worshiping with even more faithfulness than when we could sit beside each other in church.

So, here we are, beautiful St. Paul and Incarnation. We have been given the blessing of in-between time - like Holy Saturday or the stretch between Ascension and Pentecost - in-between time when we can look back on all we have lost and endured and look ahead to life, the new life always offered by God, the transformed world that God always invites us to help build.

With much love,

Tom

Our beautiful new banner designed by Amy Neufeld.

Prayers:

Please pray for all those on our parish prayer list, especially Jean, Andy, Roderick, and Angelo.

Please also remember in your prayers these sisters and brothers who have died, and those who grieve their loss:
Premanjali Rao, mother of Vijay Rao
John Doyle

Supporting Our Church:

We are aware that, unfortunately, some parishioners have been laid off or furloughed and others are in danger of losing their jobs. Please know that you are in our prayers and we are here to help any way we can. In these extremely challenging economic times, we are especially grateful to those of you who have been able to keep up with your pledges. You can still mail checks to the church or you can use online giving. Visit stpaulsjc.org and click on "Online Giving." We also have a Venmo account. Call the office or email me for more information about that.

Worship Schedule:

Monday through Friday: "Church By Phone"

Morning Prayer, 7:30
Noonday Prayer, 12:00
Evening Prayer, 5:30


Contact Fr. Tom for call-in information.

Sunday at 10:00am

Join us on Facebook Live for a celebration of Holy Eucharist


Pentecost Party

Pentecost is NEXT Sunday, May 31. Unfortunately, we can't have our annual parish picnic this year but you are all invited to a Pentecost Party on Zoom! We'll gather (virtually) at noon for a chance to see one another and catch up!

Contact Fr. Tom for log-in information.

Calling All Graduates!

As always, we would like to recognize and honor all of our graduates, from preschool to graduate school! Please fill out the attached sheet and drop it in the mail or email the information to Susan Den Herder: susan@stpaulsjc.org.

From the Diocese:

Be sure to read this week's edition of "The Voice Online" for the Bishop's weekly video and other important information. (Also, remember that Bishop Hughes will host a Zoom conversation with those of us in this part of the diocese on June 2 at 6:00pm. More information to follow.)

https://myemail.constantcontact.com/The-VOICE-Online-Weekly--Yes--we-re-in-the-wilderness---but-we-do-not-walk-alone.html?soid=1102692382496&aid=Jo_TQXyP5xc

And, if you haven't read it yet, don't miss the excellent Pastoral Letter written by the Bishops of Newark and New Jersey:


Helpful Resources:

State of New Jersey Covid-19 Information Hub:

The Diocese of Newark posts Covid-19 resources here:


You can subscribe to diocesan newsletters here:

The Episcopal Church has collected Covid-19 resources here:

"Habits of Grace," weekly reflections from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry:

The Church of England has some wonderful prayers and other materials here:

My sermons can be found here:

Week of May 17, 2020


Welcome to 
The Church of St. Paul and Incarnation!

An Episcopal / Anglican Parish
in the Heart of Jersey City










May 15, 2020

"Sidney's Legacy"

Dear Friends,

I am still absorbing the shock of Sidney King's death. Maybe because I just couldn't imagine our church without him, I was convinced that Sidney would pull through and that we would soon hear him again on our prayer calls and see his comments during our Sunday services on Facebook. The truth is I still have a hard time picturing our church without him, without his deep knowledge and tireless commitment, without his familiar laugh, without his support of our congregation and of me.

Although we're having a hard time accepting Sidney's death, I believe he was prepared for it. Sidney certainly loved life and wanted to live. To the end, he was working hard at his therapy, first in person and then online after the pandemic made travel impossible. In the last few weeks before we closed our doors, Sidney had returned to church and when we were separated he was still eagerly participating in Finance Committee and Vestry meetings via conference call and Zoom. At the same time, Sidney's Illness had made him even more mindful that we are given a limited number of days and also deepened his trust that the Lord was beside him, no matter what.

I'm sure like many of you, Sidney has not been far from my thoughts and prayers. And, along with his unshakeable faith, I've also been thinking about his love of ministry. As I wrote to you last week, Sidney never said "no" to ministry. I remember how eager he was to host Family Promise guests at the Parish House on Storms Avenue. I remember how disappointed he was that we weren't able to continue the Fourth Monday dinners here on Duncan Avenue. And, in a recent conversation, Deacon Jill shared how Sidney had played a large role in the Lighthouse, larger than many of us probably realized. If Jill was the mother of the Lighthouse, then Sidney was the father. He spent a lot of time with the residents - people who had fled danger to seek asylum in the United States - gaining not just their trust but also their love. Perhaps because he knew what it was like to leave a homeland and try to find a footing in a strange new land, Sidney took the time to get to know and to help each person. And, as a careful steward of God's gifts, Sidney was happy that our building was being used for such good and important ministry.

Sidney loved the church. You old-timers know that the history of the Episcopal Church in Jersey City is not always a happy story. There have been many disappointments, misunderstandings, and conflicts along the way. No one knew this painful history better than Sidney. Few people lived more of this history more deeply than Sidney. Yet, although he was sometimes frustrated, disappointed, and even hurt, he never gave up on the church. Just the opposite! He gave many hundreds of hours of his life to the often tedious work of attending meetings, both locally and on the diocesan level. While today many people have perhaps understandably soured on institutions, Sidney understood that they are necessary if we want to work together and achieve as much good as possible. Sidney recognized that institutions are needed if together we are to put our faith into action. So, all of those Garden State Episcopal CDC Board meetings helped to construct decent housing for the poor. All of those Union of Black Episcopalians meetings provided promising students with scholarships. And, all of those vestry meetings built a church that has the ability to do the kinds of ministry that Sidney loved so much.

I already miss Sidney. And I'm sure in the weeks and months ahead when we're faced with a problem or an opportunity I'll catch myself thinking. "I'll ask Sidney what he thinks." It really is hard to imagine our church without him. But, Sidney has left us a rich legacy: an unshakeable faith, a hunger for ministry, and a love for our flawed but beautiful church.

In last Sunday's gospel lesson - the lesson we usually read at funerals - Jesus tells the disciples, "I am the way the truth and the life." Sidney King knew Jesus to be the way. He followed the way. And, thanks to his example, we also know the way.

Tom

Prayers: 

Please pray for all those on our parish prayer list, especially Jean, Andy, Roderick, and Angelo. Please also remember in your prayers these sisters and brothers who have died, and those who grieve their loss:
Sidney King
Joe Hannigan
Ruth Fowler, aunt of Diane Maxon
Hector Gill, uncle of Shari Gill

Supporting Our Church:

We are aware that, unfortunately, some parishioners have been laid off or furloughed and others are in danger of losing their jobs. Please know that you are in our prayers and we are here to help any way we can. In these extremely challenging economic times, we are especially grateful to those of you who have been able to keep up with your pledges. You can still mail checks to the church or you can use online giving. Visit stpaulsjc.org and click on "Online Giving." We also have a Venmo account. Call the office or email me for more information about that.

Worship Schedule:

Monday through Friday: "Church By Phone"
Morning Prayer, 7:30
Noonday Prayer, 12:00
Evening Prayer, 5:30
Call 201-433-4922 for call-in information

Sunday at 10:00am
Join us on Facebook Live for a celebration of Holy Eucharist
www.facebook.com/StPaulsJC

Pentecost Party

Pentecost is Sunday, May 31. Unfortunately, we can't have our annual parish picnic this year but you are all invited to a Pentecost Party on Zoom! We'll gather (virtually) at noon for a chance to see one another and catch up! More details to follow!

Calling All Graduates!

As always, we would like to recognize and honor all of our graduates, from preschool to graduate school! Please fill out the attached sheet and drop it in the mail or email the information to Susan Den Herder: susan@stpaulsjc.org.

From the Diocese:

Be sure to read this week's edition of "The Voice Online" for the Bishop's weekly video and other important information. (Also, remember that Bishop Hughes will host a Zoom conversation with those of us in this part of the diocese on June 2 at 6:00pm. More information to follow.)
https://myemail.constantcontact.com/The-VOICE-Online-Weekly…

And, if you haven't read it yet, don't miss the excellent Pastoral Letter written by the Bishops of Newark and New Jersey:
https://myemail.constantcontact.com/A-Pastoral-Letter-to-th…

Helpful Resources:

State of New Jersey Covid-19 Information Hub:
https://covid19.nj.gov

The Diocese of Newark posts Covid-19 resources here:
https://dioceseofnewark.org/covid-19

You can subscribe to diocesan newsletters here:
https://dioceseofnewark.org/subscribe

The Episcopal Church has collected Covid-19 resources here:
https://episcopalchurch.org/concerning-covid19

"Habits of Grace," weekly reflections from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry:
https://episcopalchurch.org/habits-of-grace

The Church of England has some wonderful prayers and other materials here:
https://www.churchofengland.org/…/coronavirus-covid-19-litu…

My sermons can be found here:
http://tommurphe.blogspot.com/