Week of May 3, 2020

Welcome to 
The Church of St. Paul and Incarnation!

An Episcopal / Anglican Parish
in the Heart of Jersey City

May 1, 2020

Dear Friends,

These are days of fear and suffering, weeks of heroism and hope. For many, it is also a time of deep disappointment.

Countless events and activities have been postponed or canceled. I keep thinking of high school and college seniors who have worked hard and accomplished much and right now should be enjoying a kind of victory lap, celebrating with classmates and family, anticipating their next steps, but instead are mostly at home stuck in front of computers, taking their last classes via "distance learning."

I think of people who had just embarked on ventures, who had begun new jobs or started new businesses. Each time I walk or drive past the corner of Bergen Avenue and Reed Street, I feel so bad for our friend who had opened his beautiful new Italian restaurant just a few weeks before the pandemic struck. I've talked to him a few times since he had to scale back to just offering a limited takeout menu and although he's an optimistic person by nature he can't hide his understandable disappointment and worry.

In our own church community, couples have had to postpone their weddings. Our young people and adults won't be confirmed this time around. Our dinner-dance has been pushed back to next year. Our choir has been limited to conference calls. And, as you know, each Sunday it's only Sue and me in church. We're glad to be there but it's just not the same without all of you.

And, we each have our own personal disappointments. In my case, I'm sorry that I wasn't able to go on retreat last week. A couple of months ago, I reserved a room at the Abbey of Gethsemani, a monastery in Kentucky made famous by the twentieth century monk and writer Thomas Merton. Some of you may remember that I went on retreat there two years ago, fulfilling a longtime dream. Since my friend Gary Commins was still around and had offered to lead our Sunday services, I thought I would take him up on his generosity and make a return trip to that beautiful and holy place.

The daily round of worship is at the heart of monastic life. At the Abbey of Gethsemani there are eight services every weekday, with the first one beginning at 3:15am! Before each service, I loved walking into the hushed abbey church with others making their own retreat and also some locals who seemed to be regulars. Each time, I was heartened and grateful to see the monks, these men who have left the world and devoted their lives to prayer and work, simplicity and silence. I'm pretty sure I like talking too much to have ever been a good monk, but the structure provided by the daily worship schedule appeals to me, offering regular invitations to stop what I am doing and turn my attention back to God.

To my surprise, the pandemic and the necessity to stay apart and yet somehow stick together has provided a different kind of monastery. We are following a worship schedule nowhere near as demanding as what the monks do every day but nevertheless our "Church By Phone" services are giving me and many of you much-needed structure, extending an invitation three times a day to stop, to breathe, and to remember God's presence. Instead of praying in a large abbey church, I simply walk through the door from the rectory into my quiet office, sit at my desk, gather the service sheets and the lessons of the day and our ever-lengthening prayer list. I dial in and wait for the others to call and take their places in our "chapel" and then we pray. There are no monks chanting haunting melodies and the beautiful Kentucky countryside isn't outside the window, and we're all tired and worried, but for these past few weeks I've been inspired and comforted by these simple services.

It's been a different kind of retreat in a different kind of monastery - a sign that God is very much at work, doing what God always does, calling us back home, and giving us just what we need.




Please pray for all those on our parish prayer list, especially Jean Alexander who had surgery on Thursday, and Andy.

Please also remember in your prayers these sisters and brothers who have died, and those who grieve their loss:
Gahima Kothari and her unborn child, killed at home on Christopher Columbus Drive
Man Mohan Mall
Dr. Lorna Breen
Ijahnya Christian, cousin of the Maynard-Jacobs Family
Gladys Clark, aunt of Belinda Stokes
Delia Torres, aunt of Susan Suarez

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

From the Diocese:

This week's edition of The Voice Online has much important and helpful information (including the Bishop's call for us to write and share our own prayers and an invitation to join in a Zoom call with her). Read all about it by clicking here:

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 Epscopal 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: