Week of August 9, 2020

Welcome to 
The Church of St. Paul and Incarnation!

An Episcopal / Anglican Parish
in the Heart of Jersey City







“Glimpses of Heaven”

Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” —not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

(Luke 9:28-36)

If we were living in normal times, on Thursday morning a little less than a handful of parishioners would have gathered in the chapel to celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration. I sure miss those little services with our faithful weekday worshipers, but our much better attended “Church By Phone” services are a real consolation. And, I believe the story of the Transfiguration – the experience of Jesus and his three disciples on the mountain long ago – can be a consolation and hope for us in our time of much trouble.

The story of the Transfiguration (recorded in the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke) is rich with mystery and meaning. Moses and Elijah, two of the central figures of Israel’s history, appear, and we can’t help but remember Moses encountering God on Mount Sinai, an experience that left the face of Moses shining bright. We are reminded of Jesus’ baptism, when the voice from heaven announced Jesus is God’s beloved Son. And, we see the humanity of an awestruck Peter, who perfectly reasonably wants to hold on to this glimpse of heaven for as long as he can.  Peter’s impulse to stay on the mountain, to commemorate this holy encounter, is even more poignant when Jesus and his friends come down the mountain and begin the journey to Jerusalem and the cross.

I’ve never had a spiritual experience anywhere near as powerful as the Transfiguration, but I’ve glimpsed heaven from time to time. I think of sitting in the hospital with my grandmother during the last days of her life when suddenly she looked at me and said, “I know where I’ve come from and I know where I am going,” quoting Jesus (John 8:14), whether she realized it or not. I think of the day almost 13 years ago when I was ordained a priest, kneeling before Bishop Beckwith, surrounded by a church full of family and friends and parishioners, feeling the hands of other priests on my shoulders and back, feeling the gentle pressure of the bishop’s hands on my head as he called down the Holy Spirit. Like Peter, I would have liked to hold on to those moments for a little longer.

And, I think of some of the most powerful experiences that we have shared here at St. Paul and Incarnation: carrying the cross through the streets on Good Friday, blessing places stained by violence; our Pentecost picnics, usually threatened by rain but always visited by the Holy Spirit; gathering choirs from Jersey City and beyond to sing for peace each September 11 anniversary; baptizing adults and babies, celebrating a bond between God and us that can never be dissolved, no matter what; the day the wardens of St. Paul’s formally welcomed the wardens of Incarnation to their new church home, symbolically beginning our life together. So many beautiful glimpses of heaven.

And then there are the funerals. Our inability to gather and grieve in our usual way has been one of the most painful sacrifices of this time. We haven’t been able to hold each other up. We haven’t been able to say goodbye in the beauty of our sacred space, in the balm of community. We haven’t been able to share a meal together, telling stories, crying and laughing as memories pour out. I got to thinking about funerals the other day when a bookmark fell out of a book I was holding, a bookmark given out at the funeral of our beloved sister, Eden Rahming.


 More than four years ago now, Eden’s funeral was the saddest and most beautiful of them all. It was so hard to accept the sudden death of this young woman with the warmest smile and a heaven-sent voice. The church was as packed as I’ve ever seen it, filled with so many people who wanted to mourn and celebrate together, so many people sharing their musical gifts that when I’m in church and really listen I think I can still hear the glorious sound. It was truly a glimpse of heaven.

Jesus and his friends came down the mountain and would soon face much disappointment and suffering before the joy of Easter, the greatest glimpse of heaven. In the heartbreaking moments when Jesus was betrayed by one of his own and abandoned by just about everybody, in the moments when he cried out in pain and seemed to be forsaken even by God, I hope that Jesus remembered that day on the mountain with Moses and Elijah and Peter, James, and John, that day when a voice announced his holy identity and commanded us to listen to him. I hope that Jesus remembered that day on the mountain when for a few moments the veil between now and eternity was lifted, offering a glimpse of heaven.

In the same way, in our time of disappointment and suffering, I hope that we will remember our days on the mountain, our glimpses of heaven. I hope that we will remember that God has made an indissoluble bond with us, remember all the times of blessing, joy, and fellowship and, yes, even grief. As Peter learned, we can’t hold on to those moments, but they still remain ours forever, reminding us of God’s presence through it all, offering us glimpses of heaven.


Prayers and Thanksgivings:

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

Please also remember in your prayers those who have died, and those who grieve their loss:

The victims of the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon

All of those who have died as a result of Covid -19.

We give thanks for all the blessings of our lives, especially the birth of Nwaneri Allen Okere, son of Uchenna Okere and Neisha Miller-Okere, and grandson of Davidson and Beatrice Okere.

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.

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


From the Diocese:

Read The Voice Online for all the latest news, including an inspiring message from Bishop Hughes:


And, mark your calendars because Bishop Hughes will make her official visit (via Zoom) with us on Sunday, September 27 during the 10:00am Service and “Coffee Hour.” More information to come!


New Jersey Together Statewide Action, Monday 8/31

Over 400 people from across New Jersey met on Zoom to ratify an agenda for much larger action on Monday, August 31, 7:30pm-9:00pm. We are hoping fore a large turnout from St. Paul and Incarnation as we join with thousands of other people from over 140 congregations and non-profits, pressing for concrete actions and commitments from decision makers, including Governor Murphy. The focus will be on a set of specific issues related to racial equity, criminal justice, and the current pandemic.

Click here for more information and to register: https://www.njtogether.org/action2020

North Porch at Triangle Park Community Center

As many of you know, North Porch offers diapers, formula, and other assistance to families with infants and young children. Since the need continues to grow, North Porch is asking for financial donations through a GoFundMe campaign. Please consider supporting this beautiful ministry:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/north-porch-mom-amp-infant-program?utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link-tip&fbclid=IwAR2tibm9cDTU2k9BqFh-dtWMCn77qrsNaNBpNeMh7gcaW_M_reC03IdJpi4

DJ’s Free Market

Subscribe to the DJ’s Newsletter to stay informed about this exciting new ministry led by Deacon Jill:


The Arts at St. Paul & Incarnation:

The virtual opening of ASPI’s new show “UpRooted” was a big success! Many thanks to all the members of the Arts Council, especially Amy Neufeld and Sarah Ibrahim. If you missed the opening, you can visit the virtual gallery to see the beautiful art:

And, mark your calendars for our annual Choral Festival of Peace on Friday, September 11, at 7:00pm. This year’s festival will be live-streamed on our church’s Facebook page.

Help for Renters and Homeowners:

There is help available for renters and homeowners suffering because of the pandemic. One is the website for the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency: www.njhousing.gov. You can also call 1-800-NJ-HOUSE (1-800-654-6873).

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/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-liturgy-and-prayer-resources

Fr. Tom’s sermons can be found here:
http://tommurphe.blogspot.com




Week of August 2, 2020


Welcome to 
The Church of St. Paul and Incarnation!

An Episcopal / Anglican Parish
in the Heart of Jersey City







“More Than Comfort”

In this Sunday’s gospel lesson, we will hear Matthew’s report of the “Feeding of the Five Thousand,” when Jesus takes all that the disciples have to offer – what seems to be a woefully insufficient five loaves and two fish - and miraculously feeds a crowd of “about five thousand men, besides women and children.” Since this is the only one of Jesus’ miracles to appear in all four gospels, it’s obvious that the early Christians recognized this event as a most important sign of Jesus’ power, and an essential reminder of the abundance that is always on offer from God. This long-ago miracle of abundance echoes down to us today, especially each time we bring our small offering to the Lord’s Table, each time we remember Jesus taking the bread, blessing it, and sharing it with his friends.

We have missed so many and so much during these long months of pandemic and isolation. Here in our church community, we long to see the faces of beloved brothers and sisters, to sing hymns, to pass the peace, to share food and drink during coffee hour, to welcome the newly baptized, and so much more. Maybe most of all, we long to share Holy Communion.   

As I mentioned in a recent sermon, distributing Communion is both a great honor and also a wonderful pleasure. I love watching all of you approach the altar, some walking hesitantly and prayerfully while others, especially the kids, come bounding up the steps, practically sliding into the altar rail, so excited to receive what – or, better, who - is being offered. While kneeling or standing at the rail, some of you look up at me, eager for a moment of connection while others keep your eyes downcast, reverently and privately waiting for the Body of Christ. And then there are your hands, some soft and smooth, others creased and bent, hands telling stories of lives just getting started or tales of journeys that are by now many chapters long.

During these months when we have not been able to gather in person there have been debates in the wider church about Communion. Is it appropriate to continue in our usual way, even if only the priest and maybe one or two others can receive the sacrament? Or, is it more meaningful for everyone to “fast” from Communion until we are all together again? And, how about the bread and wine that some people set up at home during our Sunday services? In some way can that also be Communion? It seems to me that there is not one correct answer, but, no matter what, distance and technology and even shaky theology will surely not stop God from giving us the grace that we so desperately need. So, I decided to continue our live-streamed services as close to normal as possible, although that has meant that only Sue and I are able to receive and you have been invited to a “spiritual communion.” There hasn’t been a week when I haven’t felt some awkwardness and even guilt about that, but I’ve hoped that offering something familiar would be a comfort during these difficult days.

After all, an important blessing of Communion is comfort: the comfort of knowing that God is in our midst, no matter how tough our challenges – the comfort of participating in a ritual rooted in the birth of our faith - the comfort of knowing that, even when we are apart, together we are the Body of Christ. Especially right now, we can use all the comfort we can get. But, comfort is not the only blessing of Communion. In the words of Eucharistic Prayer C (BCP, pg. 372):

“Open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us. Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal. Let the grace of this Holy Communion make us one body, one spirit in Christ, that we may worthily serve the world in his name.” 

Communion – even when we are separated by distance - offers us not just comfort (or “solace”) but strength. Communion offers us not just pardon but renewal. Communion gives us all that we need to really be the Body of Christ in a world that is as hungry as ever for the abundance always on offer from God. We are given all the comfort and forgiveness that we need but we are also given the strength to love, to offer mercy, and to stand beside the poor and the oppressed, the people who are especially blessed in God’s downside-up kingdom.

Since God can take what seems to be a woefully insufficient amount of bread and fish and somehow manage to feed many thousands of people, I am convinced that God will have no trouble at all feeding us during our time of spiritual and physical hunger. With God’s help, we are strong enough to follow the example of the late great John Lewis and make some good trouble, doing our part right here and now to create a more just society.

As a start, I hope that all of you will attend the New Jersey Together action (via Zoom) on August 31, 7:30pm-9:00pm. This is a very real way for God to take the little that we have and multiply it into a blessing for many thousands of our sisters and brothers wounded by deep racial and economic inequities. Please register for the action here: http://www.njtogether.org/action2020

In the meantime, we will gather at a distance on Sunday, once again offering what we have, trusting that the God of abundance will give us all the good food that we need.



Prayers and Thanksgivings:

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

Please also remember in your prayers those who have died, and those who grieve their loss:

Cory Oglesby, nephew of Walter Brown
Antonio Madrinan, cousin of Virgil Madrinan
Debra Dudley Ballera, sister of Craig Dudley

All of those who have died as a result of Covid -19.

We give thanks for all the blessings of our lives, especially all those celebrating birthdays and anniversaries during August.

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.

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


First Sunday Parish Get-Together:

You are invited to our monthly parish get-together on Zoom! Join us THIS Sunday, August 2, at 1:00 for a chance to catch up with each other. Contact Fr. Tom for details.

From the Diocese:

Read The Voice Online for all the latest news, including words of encouragement from Bishop Hughes:

https://myemail.constantcontact.com/The-VOICE-Online--Encouragement-from-Bishop-Hughes--Mental-health-focus-for-summer-Regional-Zoom-meetings--Upcoming-ordinations.html?soid=1102692382496&aid=t766WZh2DlA

“Good Trouble” –
New Jersey Together Statewide Action, Monday 8/31

This past Monday evening, over 400 people from across New Jersey met on Zoom to ratify an agenda for much larger action on Monday, August 31, 7:30pm-9:00pm. We are hoping fore a large turnout from St. Paul and Incarnation as we join with thousands of other people from over 140 congregations and non-profits, pressing for concrete actions and commitments from decision makers, including Governor Murphy. The focus will be on a set of specific issues related to racial equity, criminal justice, and the current pandemic.

Click here for more information and to register: https://www.njtogether.org/action2020

Free Covid-19 Testing

New Jersey Together is co-sponsoring FREE Covid-19 testing on Sunday, August 2, from 10am to 4pm, at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church (472 Bergen Ave.).
Pre-register here: www.njtogether.org/testing

North Porch at Triangle Park Community Center

As many of you know, North Porch offers diapers, formula, and other assistance to families with infants and young children. Since the need continues to grow, North Porch is asking for financial donations through a GoFundMe campaign. Please consider supporting this beautiful ministry:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/north-porch-mom-amp-infant-program?utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link-tip&fbclid=IwAR2tibm9cDTU2k9BqFh-dtWMCn77qrsNaNBpNeMh7gcaW_M_reC03IdJpi4

DJ’s Free Market

Subscribe to the DJ’s Newsletter to stay informed about this exciting new ministry led by Deacon Jill:


The Arts at St. Paul & Incarnation

The virtual opening of ASPI’s new show “UpRooted” was a big success! Many thanks to all the members of the Arts Council, especially Amy Neufeld and Sarah Ibrahim. If you missed the opening, you can visit the virtual gallery to see the beautiful art:
http://www.aspi-jc.org

Help for Renters and Homeowners:

There is help available for renters and homeowners suffering because of the pandemic. One is the website for the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency: www.njhousing.gov. You can also call 1-800-NJ-HOUSE (1-800-654-6873).

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/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-liturgy-and-prayer-resources

Fr. Tom's sermons can be found here:
http://tommurphe.blogspot.com