St. Paul's Episcopal Church   Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

"Making friends while serving God"

The week of March 5-11, 2018  


Jesus came not to condemn but to save

Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 107:1-3,17-22
Ephesian 2:1-10; John 3:14-21
Readings now available online!
This week's lessons 
Our readings on Sunday reveal human behavior and God's response in a most decidedly negative light. The people were cross about their circumstances, feeling they'd been abandoned in the wilderness. They spoke against God and against Moses. God sent poisonous snakes to set them straight and the people fell into line, begging forgiveness and committing to doing better. God enhanced Moses' staff so those bitten by the snakes could be made well.
Our psalm and epistle reading both refer to our sin and out failure on our own to be restored to a state of grace. Our Gospel declares that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but it then goes on to observe that the world had already condemned itself because the people did not believe in Jesus.
This ferocious language reveals a perspective which frustrates those looking in our readings for a positive reason to live in faith.  Those reasons abound elsewhere, just not this week.
We desire to live in the light of Christ, a light which is revealed anew at the beginning of our annual Easter Vigil on March 31. We thrill to Jesus' invitation to follow him and we gladly pick up our cross to do so. We don't have to be living in the depths of sin and darkness to arrive at this decision. We are called. We hear and follow the call.  
'In Service to God & You'
This week's helpers


Server:            Maria Bell


Lectors:           Rose Marie Proctor

                        Adrian Goldson


Litanist:           Pete Bedrossian



Organist:         Maris Kristapsons


Acolytes:         Shawn Prater-Lee


Lectors:           Aleen Clarke Josephs

                        Bobbie Gordon


Litanist:           Mark Debald


Usher:             Dewy Clarke

                        Mark Debald


Altar Guild:      Hyacinth Curtis

                        Daphne Barrett


Greeters:         Cynthia Benjamin

                        Rose Marie Proctor                


Don't forgot to change your clocks!
FORMATION COMMITTEE: St. Paul's Formation Committee met in February to discuss the Lenten Supper and Meditation Series, as well as our upcoming Instructed Eucharist and the planned presentation on how our music is linked to the Scripture each week.
Which leads the committee to inquire of readers: Is there something you see in the church (Something you see, something we do) that you wonder about? We would like to know what you would like to know about. Explanations can follow if we know what you're interested in. If you have a question, or an idea, feel free to put a note in my mailbox in the Parlor (A-4) Thank You!                                    
                                                                                              --Pete Bedrossian, Chair

Here's how you can help
   Stewardship Committee wants to involve  you!
Fund raising ideas were the topic of the Stewardship Committee at its meeting Monday. Of special interest were new fundraising ideas that require input and involvement from parishioners.  
A bus trip to the new casino in Monticello was suggested for sometime later in the spring. Also a 25 week club fund raiser ending with a Parish Hall dinner was proposed for early October. In addition a fundraiser with a restaurant i.e. Panera, Outback or Texas Roadhouse was a popular idea, as was another Caribbean dinner and brunch.  
All of these activities require participation from the members of our parish in order to be successful. Are you willing to participate actively in either some or all of these events?   For example, will you buy a $25 week club ticket for yourself and sell at least another one?   Will you attend and bring friends to a dinner at a restaurant?   Will you attend and bring friends to a dinner at church?   Will you help cook or serve at a church dinner?   Do you have other ideas for fundraising? What are they?  
The Stewardship Committee needs your help. Please consider these ideas and give your input to a Stewardship Committee member: Norma, Debbie P., Janet Q., Deb W., RoseMarie, Aleen, Charlie, Cynthia, Daphne, & Bobbie.
Our next event is the Corned Beef & Cabbage Dinner on St. Patrick's Day (March 17). We'll be setting up and cooking the corned beef Friday, March 16 beginning at 2:00.   Prep and cooking of veggies will take place Saturday, March 17 beginning at 10:00.   We're asking for donations of cupcakes - any kind - for dessert.  Please use the sign up sheets in the Narthex to volunteer your help.     The dinner is at 6:00 with entertainment by the Fiddlers. Reservations are helpful.   Please call the church or use the sign up sheet in the Narthex to reserve your dinner.   Take -outs will be available after those seated in the dining room are served.                                      --Bobbie Gordon, Stewardship Chair

Mark your calendars!

11     Margaret Robinson                    23     Donald S. Ackert
12     Tyler Jones                                24     Alice J. Leigh
14     Kattyann Goodwin                     25     Michael Van Pelt
17     Deb Williams                             26     Karen Reid  
         George Williams                        29     Danya Clarke
         Whitman Williams                      30     Stuart Ballinger
         Bryanna Winkler                        31     Rose Marie Proctor
18     Shirley Pharr                                       Pete Bedrossian
20     Stacey Rosborough
21     Linda Aleen Dubois
         Lisl Prater-Lee



The Sunday Sermon.....
              Getting acquainted
SERMON: 3 Lent B 3 4 18
We have been conducting an accidental and modest survey here at St. Paul's recently. Or so I have concluded. For two Sundays our sign on the corner of Mansion and Hamilton has read:
It was obvious to me that no one unknown to us came through our doors last Sunday or the week before or the week since. From that I conclude that the message did not resonate with folks. Or didn't resonate sufficiently to inspire their entry into our church.
That is not to say that some didn't look at the sign and say to themselves, "Gee, I think I'll check that out at my own church or temple or mosque." That could well have happened. Although the Jews and the Muslims likely wouldn't have been looking to get to know Jesus. They'd be looking for a better connection with the God of their understanding. Or...
It also has occurred to me that people already part of this congregation may have looked at that sign and wondered how that was going to play out in our Episcopal liturgy.
When I put that question and that suggestion on the sign I truly wondered if anyone would notice. I am still wondering because no one, not one person, has volunteered to me that they saw it or reacted to it without my first inquiring. I asked a few before I put it up if they thought using letters and numbers for the words 'are' and 'you' and 'for' and 'to' would attract attention. All thought it would, though it was pointed out to me that people might just wonder who was putting up the sign this week, in place of the stuffy pastor who's always quoting the Bible.
I had a good time with it, doing something different, seeing if it would get noticed or commented on, if it would spark conversation, thought or audible reaction. As you can tell, since I'm giving this sermon about it, I'm still working on it, considering it, trying to start something.
Maybe it sounds a little condescending for me to suggest that there's a possibility that someone who attends church with us regularly hasn't already come to know Jesus. Who could I be speaking of here? Do you know who I have in mind?
I am speaking of myself and I am speaking of you and I am referring to the entire congregation. Our relationship with Jesus, like any relationship only more so, is constantly changing. Our relationship with Jesus grows when we engage and confess and ask for guidance and forgiveness, and it shrinks when we ignore it and keep to ourselves our struggles and strains. The more we seek to let Jesus know us the better we get to know him. We come to know him as our companion in the way, the one who will hear all and love us despite our shortcomings, every single time.
And since we are not done until we're dead with discovering our shortcomings and confessing them to Jesus, we are equally not done with learning how generous and gracious and merciful Jesus can be with us. And in that regard we are continually getting to know Jesus. Or, as the sign says, Getting (number) 2 know Jesus.
Our connection with Jesus is often biblical based. We learn about him from the Gospels, which portray his life, from the epistles, which translate and interpret his earthly ministry, and from the Hebrew Bible, which was his point of reference as a faithful Jew. It is no coincidence, for example, that we are given the Ten Commandments from the Hebrew Bible on the same day that Jesus destroys the Temple because it has been profaned. The former leads to the latter. Jesus, as I just said, was a faithful Jew.
We see also this Lenten season examples of Jesus insisting on conformance with God's will. Last Sunday he chastised Peter for attempting to deny Jesus' cruel fate. This Sunday he overturns the money changers' tables and scatters the other vendors' tables in the Temple, he is so outraged by the profaning of God's house.
The advice Jesus gives us in both of the Gospel readings is that our basic objective needs to be the fulfillment of God's will, not the fulfillment of our own. That means sublimating our personal and selfish perspective and seeking instead to conform to the will of God. Jesus knows all too well this is not an easy task for mortals.
Last week Jesus made the point that we might as well face it and accept his direction. "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me," he said. This directive was a not-so-gentle suggestion that we need to identify and pick up that cross of ours and not get distracted or waylaid by other causes.
This is how we get to know Jesus. This is how we work on the relationship with him that we have and which we hope to improve. We face the challenges of our faith, fulfilling our role as Christians, and we commit to it. That means we're on board.
There are other ways to get to know Jesus. One is to become acquainted with those who know him well. Last week, for example, we got a good look at Absalom Jones and his ministry in the eighteenth and nineteenth century through the lens of Mother Gloria's expansive and riveting sermon. We heard of his birth into slavery, how he was recognized and advanced as a youth and then as an adult interested in learning and improving himself. We heard how he saved and borrowed to buy his wife's freedom before he purchased his own. We learned of his founding the black church in this country with Richard Allen, and how they would not be relegated to the gallery of the church they helped build, so they built another.
His life is a testament, the Absalom Jones Testament, in the larger Bible, the story of people of intense and immense faith. When we start to think about picking up that heavy cross that's always available to us we need to consider the cross of Absalom Jones and his belief in Jesus and his faith. In so doing we see what Jesus inspired in him and so we, you and I, thereby better know Jesus.
When we look at our leaders, when we consider our bishops, when we reflect on the saints, when we work closely together in the name of Jesus we see Jesus in each other and in those who, like us, seek and sought to do good in Jesus' name. This is another way to get to know Jesus.
Paying close attention to our hymns and what they say about Jesus is still another way to get to know Jesus better. When we recognize our own reactions to some of the language in the hymns we can sense what it is about Jesus that registers with us as important and meaningful to us. And what moves me might not move you, and vice versa.
Fortunately, Jesus is so broadly known that there is an endless variety of examples of his nature, his love, his work in the world and his heavenly residence. We just have to pay attention to what we sing and what we read and how it moves us.
Getting to know Jesus can be a lifelong process if we're lucky. If we continually find ourselves recognizing Jesus' work in the world, if we emulate his love of all, especially the downtrodden and the marginalized, if we communicate with him in prayer and we regularly encourage others to do the same we will find ourselves filled with the promise of faith. That promise is in the Hebrew name for Jesus, Emmanuel, a word which means God is with us.
He certainly is!                        Amen
A sermon preached March 4, 2018 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Poughkeepsie NY by The Rev. Tyler Jones, Rector

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St. Paul's Episcopal Church-Poughkeepsie

1982                 691     My faith looks up to thee (Olivet)
1982                 530     Spread, O spread, thou mighty word (Gott sei Dank)
1982                 620     Jerusalem, my happy home (Land of Rest)
1982                 473     Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim (Crucifer) 


The hymn Lift High the Cross was written in 1887 by Anglican cleric George Kitchin for a festival service at Winchester Cathedral, while he was Dean there. Revised in 1916, it was then set to the familiar tune by Sydney Nicholson which we use today. Remarkably, it has only appeared in America in the mid-1970s, when a number of denominations adopted it for their worship and it quickly achieved great popularity. The cross in the hymn is considered a symbol of the love of Jesus, culminating in Jesus' Passion, and then a becoming a sign of resurrection at Easter.


MARCH 5-11, 2018

MON 5            7:30am AA Meeting;                     
                        6pm Evening Prayer; Stewardship;              
TUE 6              10am-2pm Office, Food Pantry, Small Blessings Thrift Shop;                      
WED 7             7:30am AA Meeting;  
THUR 8            10am-2pm Office, Food Pantry, Small Blessings Thrift Shop;      
                         6pm Evening Prayer, Relatives as Parents, Pastoral care;           
FRI 9                7:30am AA meeting;

SAT 10             10am Morning Prayer, Buildings & grounds Mtg;                 
SUN 11            8am Rite I
                         8:45am Lessons' Discussion
                         9:30am Choir practice;  
           10am Rite II
           10am Sunday School;
           11:15am Coffee Hour


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