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


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:


“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:


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:

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:

Fr. Tom's sermons can be found here: