Week of July 5, 2020

Welcome to 
The Church of St. Paul and Incarnation!

An Episcopal / Anglican Parish
in the Heart of Jersey City

“The God of Paradox is at Work”

“God, who is preached and represented in this world by the One who was crucified and rose from the dead, is the God of paradox: what people consider wise He considers folly, what people regard as madness He considers strength, what people consider great He sees as small, and what they find small He regards as great.”

- Tomáš Halík

After months of quarantine, stay-at-home orders, closed businesses, Church By Phone and Communion on Facebook, most of us have long since grown tired of Covid-19 and are desperate to move into the “new normal,” whatever that is going to look like. After all of the suffering and loss endured by the people of our region, our local leaders have moved cautiously and sometimes, as in the case of indoor dining, changed course, despite public pressure and the significant economic impact. Elsewhere in the country, as I’m sure you know, many leaders failed to learn from our painful experience, reopening too quickly and widely with predictably devastating consequences. We may be tired of the virus, but it seems the virus is not tired of us.

While eager to welcome as many of you as possible back to church, the leadership of our congregation is choosing to be cautious, not so much out of fear but out of love for one another. So, in-person worship and other events will resume no sooner than the first week of August. I know this is disappointing to many (and maybe a relief to others), but I hope that we will continue to look for the gifts that God continues to give us during this strange and difficult time.

God is the God of paradox. God sees the world in a downside-up way, and acts accordingly. So, in God’s view – in God’s “kingdom” – it’s the poor and the mournful and the suffering people who are the blessed ones. The God of paradox comes among us as a “nobody” born in the humblest of circumstances, raised in a small town not known for producing much good, and whose life and mission seemed to end as a miserable failure. But, as the theologian James Cone writes, when all hope seemed to be lost, God took the cross, “a symbol of death and defeat” and “turned into a sign of liberation and new life.”

God is the God of paradox. Our Christian faith is built on paradox, calling us to take up our cross, insisting that we must give up our life in order to save it. In the gospel lesson we will hear this Sunday, Jesus declares that God hides the truth from those who think they are wise and reveals it to “infants.”  If church has always been part of our lives, if we think we’ve somehow “figured out” Christianity, all of this paradox may be hidden from us, fading into the background of our faith and our lives, preventing us from seeing things as they really are.

But, God does not miss an opportunity! And, I believe God is hard at work, rearranging our vision, helping us to see the world through God’s eyes, inviting us to see – and maybe even help build – a downside-up world during this time of paradox.

So, in the eyes of the world, right now the church looks awfully weak. Never in our long history has the church been closed for more than a week or two, usually due to bad weather. Now, as you know, we haven’t been able to gather in-person since March. And yet, when we might expect that our bonds of commitment would have started to weaken, we have in fact grown even stronger. Way more of us are praying “together” during the week and on Sundays, and it sure sounds to me like we are praying with more depth and fervor than when we were sitting in our pews. The God of paradox is at work in this time of paradox.

Across our country, longstanding injustices are being exposed and long-demanded changes that used to seem just too hard to tackle are falling with little resistance. Statues of Confederate leaders (usually erected decades after the Civil War in an effort to rewrite history and to intimidate Black people) have been swiftly removed and hauled away. After years of stubborn resistance, the Mississippi legislature quickly voted to remove Confederate imagery from the state flag. And, it’s not just symbols, as important as they are. More people are looking carefully at government budgets, calling for resources to be shifted from the police (who, as Jon Stewart recently said, for too long have been asked to do more than they can manage, in effect serving as a kind of border patrol between the “two Americas,” the haves and the have-nots) to people and programs with a better chance at actually fixing our deep-seated problems. And, maybe most paradoxical of all, during a time when one would expect people to be circling the wagons and only looking out for themselves and those they love, it’s like our hearts have finally been cracked open and many more of us are able to empathize with the suffering and oppressed. The God of paradox is at work in this time of paradox.

And on Monday evening, several local pastors and I took to the Internet for a frank, and sometimes uncomfortable, conversation about racism and the church. I doubt that we would have had this discussion during normal times when we all would have been caught up in our daily routines and the usual demands of leading our churches. (Or, I should just speak for myself: I would have tried to use the excuse of busyness to avoid having this discussion.) But, it was during this time when we are apart that about 1,200 people (!) came together to watch us, and more have been catching up with the recording. Why did so many tune in? I’m sure there was some curiosity and maybe a sense of obligation to support the pastors, but I suspect that many recognized that this is a different kind of time when God is rearranging our vision, helping us to see the world through God’s eyes.

So, although it’s hard to be patient during this difficult and frightening time, God is not missing an opportunity to give us some unexpected but much-needed blessings. As we wait for the reopening of our church building, the God of paradox invites us to be even closer together while we are still apart, to continue opening our hearts and our eyes, and to help build the downside-up world that God has seen and hoped for all along.




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

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

Karen Rey, the cousin of the Maynard Family

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

When We See Us:
An Interdenominational Panel Discussion About Racism, White Privilege and Power

If you missed the discussion on Monday evening, the video can be found here:


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 more information. 

Sunday at 10:00am

Join us on Facebook Live for a celebration of Holy Eucharist


From the Diocese:

Read The Voice Online for all the latest news, including information about resuming in-person worship:


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:


DJ’s Free Market

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

On July 15th, DJ's will host "Freewheeling Wednesday" at Triangle Park Community Center - a bicycle giveaway for the neighborhood children of Greenville, Jersey City. So far we have over 50 children who've signed up - and we hope to give each child who attends their own set of wheels! For some, it will be the first set of wheels they get to call their own. We will also be teaching a mini-workshop on bike safety at this fun event. Please let Fr. Tom know if you would like to donate a bike!

Attention Parents!

The Jersey City Together Education Team has created a new survey that aims to capture feedback about what learning has been like for the past three months during the COVID-19 pandemic. This survey is intended for anyone who has been helping a child with COVID-19 remote learning. Alternatively, If you know someone who may be helping a child with COVID-19 remote learning in Jersey City, please SHARE this survey!

The survey is here: https://forms.gle/x1c984ZJicAH2gYU7 and it is in both English and Spanish. The purpose of the survey is to assist Jersey City Together's listening campaign centered around the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequences of it as it relates to education including remote learning, changes in your child’s temperament, academic flow, etc. Our hope with listening is to identify common issues and concerns that parents and caregivers may be experiencing, which can then inform our advocacy going forward.

This survey is confidential and your identity will not be shared with your child’s principal or the district. The survey was created by parents and advocates who have professional experience in public education, social work, youth organization and programming, and survey/data analysis.

If you'd like to be in the loop on updates related to this survey going forward, you can subscribe to Jersey City Together's education advocacy email list (you can do that on the Education team page here ... there is a sign-up form at the bottom of that 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:

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: