Weeks of December 20 & 27, 2020

 Welcome to 

The Church of St. Paul and Incarnation!

An Episcopal / Anglican Parish
in the Heart of Jersey City

Celebrate Christmas With Us!


Thursday, December 24 (Christmas Eve): Holy Communion, 7:00PM

Friday, December 25 (Christmas Day): Holy Communion, 10:00AM

Sunday, December 27 (First Sunday after Christmas): Lessons & Carols, 10:00AM

Friday, January 1 (Feast of the Holy Name): Holy Communion, 10:00AM

“All the Way to Heaven is Heaven”

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Someone once said to me that he believed the Church’s mission was “to get as many souls as possible into heaven.” I didn’t reply to that, but, no surprise, I would not describe our purpose quite that way. Yes, it’s definitely true that we should never lose sight of our ultimate destination, especially during Advent when we are meant to look ahead to Christ’s return. But, salvation is God’s work, not ours. In fact, throughout history, the Church has gone off the rails when it has become too focused on the next life, turning away from the here and now, the needs and hopes of the people all around us, the flesh and blood world that matters so much to God.

And, it’s because of Christmas that we know for sure that this world really does matter to God. Those of us who grew up in the Church, who know so well the stories of Jesus’ birth, may have lost our sense of wonder at this story, no longer seeing the mind-blowing implications of the transcendent God choosing to join us here on earth, not as a blinding light or a resounding voice, not as some kind of awe-inspiring spiritual being, but as a helpless newborn, completely dependent on a man and woman who were far from home, barely able to find shelter and safety. Perhaps in that moment Mary and Joseph doubted their ability to care for a child in such a harsh world, but they were, of course, the exactly right people for this holiest responsibility. God knows what God is doing.

Although there are plenty of fanciful and charming legends about Jesus’ childhood, we know almost nothing about that long stretch of time between his birth and when he first presented himself to John to be baptized. But, although we are unaware of the details, Jesus grew up among relatives and neighbors, no doubt nurtured and challenged by all of the joys and hardships of family and community life. Maybe people recognized something different and mysterious about this boy, but probably not. After all, later on, the folks in Nazareth had such a hard time wrapping their minds around the notion that this grown-up child of Mary and Joseph could be anything other than a craftsman, never even considering that this hometown son might be the long-awaited messiah.

During his days of teaching and healing, Jesus used earthy images for the kingdom of God. He said it’s like a tiny mustard seed growing into a shrub large enough for birds to nest. The kingdom is like a father joyfully welcoming home a seemingly good for nothing son. It’s like the most unexpected person, the one who is hated and feared, offering generosity and mercy. Jesus insists that the kingdom of God is among us, here and now. 

In church this Sunday, we will hear the perhaps too-familiar story of the angel appearing to Mary, announcing the most amazing news. Mary could not possibly have known all that would unfold in the years and centuries ahead thanks to her “yes,” but she knows enough to ponder the angel’s message in her heart. Mary would have known that God’s choice of a peasant girl to bear God into the world means that a kind of revolution was about to begin. Mary would have anticipated that if God is going to cast down the mighty from their thrones and lift up the lowly and meek, it will come at a great cost for her and her flesh and blood son. The cross shadows the manger. And, sure enough, on a Friday afternoon in Jerusalem a few decades later, it seemed that the hope born in Bethlehem was dead forever. But, God brings new life out of death. And when the Risen Christ appeared to the frightened disciples, he was transformed for sure, but still embodied. He even invited a doubting apostle to touch his wounds.

The pandemic has taught us just how embodied we are as Church. Back in the “before time,” we gathered together each Sunday, often sitting beside or near people we may not have known too well. We shook hands at the peace, with the more exuberant among us offering joyful hugs. I marvel at how many hands I shook every Sunday! We received the Body of Christ in our hands and drank from a common cup. We squeezed into Carr Hall for food and fellowship. I don’t think I ever realized how much closeness and touch we experienced, always taking it all for granted. That’s why it has been hard during these many months to be a “disembodied church,” mostly limited to looking at images on a screen, hearing voices on conference call prayer services. 

Yet, with God’s help, we have continued our true mission of being the Body of Christ. We managed to provide Christmas gifts to over 40 children in need. Every week parishioners and neighbors drop off donations for the Triangle Park Community Center, our little storefront where people are fed and clothed daily, where the light of hope shines bright. We continue to reach out to each other as best as we can with calls and emails and cards, letting our fellow parishioners, our sisters and brothers, know that they are not forgotten, that we are all loved and missed. 

Salvation is God’s work, but we have our own mission here in the flesh and blood world that matters so much to God. Even during this strange, difficult, and even sad Christmas, with God’s help we can - must - continue to build the beloved community among ourselves and with the many people around us so hungry for love and light. And when we are on our mission, when we are the Body of Christ right here and now, then, in the words of Catherine of Siena, “all the way to heaven is heaven.”

Merry Christmas to you all!


Prayers and Thanksgivings:

We pray for:

All those on our parish prayer list, especially Jean A., Andy, Kit, Walter M., Anaiayah, Robert, Michael N., and Edmonia

The people of Middle Collegiate Church

Doctors, nurses, and all healthcare workers

Students and teachers, as they try to learn and teach under very difficult circumstances

All those in positions of leadership, especially Donald, our President; Joe, our President-elect; Phil, our Governor; and Steve, our Mayor

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

Niles Holmes, shot and killed at Martin Luther King Drive near Wilkinson Avenue

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

Christmas Flower Memorials:

Paul & Stella Belenke, Chester Beleneke, Moses & Mariam Naipaul, Simon Naipaul, Henry & Agnes Naipaul, and Arthur Galloway.

We give thanks for:

The birthdays of Angela Duncan, Micheline Ilboudo, Tamika James, and Diane LaBate Verlingo

Calendar Highlights:

Thursday, December 24: Christmas Eve Service, 7:00 PM

Friday, December 25: Christmas Day Service, 10:00 AM (On Zoom, streamed on Facebook)

Sunday, December 27: Service of Lessons and Carols, 10:00 AM (On Zoom, streamed on Facebook)

Friday, January 1 (The Feast of the Holy Name), Holy Communion at 10:00 AM

LAST CALL! Christmas Basket Raffle 

Many thanks to parishioners Dino and Abby Hall who have once again donated this year’s beautiful Christmas basket.

Raffle tickets will be on sale until tomorrow, Saturday December 19

The winner will be announced during our 10:00 service on Sunday, December 20th.

One chance for $5 or a book of 6 chances for $25

Payment options: Venmo, Vanco, mail or drop off a check to church office.

Order tickets: Call church office or email Susan@stpaulsjc.org

The basket will be delivered via curbside drop off.

LAST CALL! Christmas Cookies!

Calling all bakers! We would like to share homemade Christmas cookies with the young people in the Triangle Park neighborhood. Please let Fr. Tom know if you’d like to help. We’ll distribute the cookies on Monday.

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.

Pledge cards have been mailed to you. Please take some time to prayerfully reflect on what our church means to you, and return your completed card as soon as possible. 

You may also complete and return the online pledge form here:


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 at 10:00 AM for a live-streamed Service of Holy Communion on our church’s Facebook page: Facebook.com/StPaulsJC


From the Diocese:

Read The Voice Online for all the latest news, including a message from Bishop Hughes on preparing for this Christmas in a way that we’ve never prepared for Christmas before :


Upcoming Events:

Bishop’s Study Group: Pursuing Racial Reconciliation through Scripture, Film, Word, and Prayer (Tuesdays, 1/5-2/9, 6:30 PM)

Lay Conversation with the Bishop (Thursday, 1/21, 6:00 PM)

January Gathering for Learning, Renewal, and Refreshment (Friday, 1/29, 7:00 PM & Saturday, 1/30, 9:00 AM to noon)

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:

ASPI Mugs and Tote Bags

It's here! Bring the work of local artists into your home this season with a curated mug or tote bag from ASPI!


The Arts at St. Paul and Incarnation (ASPI) is delighted to introduce a line of mugs and tote bags featuring the works of some of our favorite local artists. Unlike many other fundraisers that call for donated work, all profit is split evenly between the artist and ASPI. Proceeds to ASPI will go towards supporting our programming and future improvements to Carr Hall. We hope you enjoy these works as much as we do.

Visit our brand new store on Threadless to order these beautiful items (which make great gifts!)


Visit our virtual gallery to see our latest exhibit:


New Jersey Together:

Jersey City Together is co-sponsoring free Covid-19 testing, open to all, ID requested.

Saturday, December 19 & Saturday, January 9, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Heavenly Temple Church of God in Christ

15 Martin Luther King Drive

Learn more about the work of New Jersey Together here: www.njtogether.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).

Jersey City Master Plan:

Jersey City is developing a new master plan and it’s important to get maximum public participation. Find more information 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 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: