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


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:


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:

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: