St. Paul's Episcopal Church   Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

"Making friends while serving God"

The week of March 12-18, 2018  

I will be their God, and they shall be my people


Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:1-13
Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:20-33
Readings now available online!
This week's lessons 
God's new covenant with humanity is announced in our Sunday reading from the Prophet Jeremiah. After much back and forth God pronounces, "I will be their God, and they shall be my people." This assurance brings profound relief to people. It did then. It does now.
Our psalm details many of the ways in which we need God in our lives. It concludes with the verse which we are singing after Communion at each 10 am Sunday service: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence and take not your holy Spirit from me. Give me the joy of your saving help again and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit." The assurance of God's covenant is reflected in the confidence of this sung plea.
Our Epistle and our Gospel readings remind us that Jesus was commissioned for his earthly ministry by God at his baptism then reinforced in authority in our Gospel by the receipt of his message by Greeks and by the sounds of angels, or thunder, in response to his preached message. Jesus uses the metaphor of planted seed to convey to his followers the message that the seed has been planted and the harvest is near. Clearly Jesus' message is being heard and his earthly ministry nearly complete.

'In Service to God & You'
This week's helpers


Server:            Maria Bell


Lectors:           Rose Marie Proctor

                        Cora Keith


Litanist:           Pete Bedrossian



Organist:         Maris Kristapsons


Acolytes:         Shawn Prater-Lee


Lectors:           Molly Jones

                        Rena Mazzuto


Litanist:           Mark Debald


Usher:             Dewy Clarke

                        Mark Debald


Altar Guild:      Mertlyn Tomlinson

                        Norma Williams


Greeters:         Cynthia Benjamin

                        Rose Marie Proctor                


P A R I S H  N E W S

The major ministry of St. Paul's, our food pantry and thrift shop operation, is in serious need of additional volunteer help. Due to other commitments, sickness, injury, work demands, travel and any manner of other causes we find we need our congregation to entertain helping out in the food pantry and thrift shop in one way or another. The need is very pronounced, if not desperate.
Please consider if you are willing to help out, then contact Daphne Barrett. As much as possible she will lay out for you volunteer options that suit your interest and availability. Regular weekly assignments are available in many areas. Being willing to be an occasional substitute or perform on-call assignments would also help greatly.
Please take the time to ask yourself if you would be able to participate directly in this ministry of our parish. Our community knows us as a giving church, ready to help our neighbors in need. Are you ready to help?


FORMATION COMMITTEE: The Formation Committee will meet on Monday, March 19th at 6pm in the Parlor. (Evening Prayer at 6pm, followed by the meeting.)  Our agenda for the meeting is below, and everyone is welcomed to attend!
Here are our topics for discussion:
  • Evaluating this year's Lenten Series Booklet (How well was it received? etc.) 
  • Sunday School Update: How are things going?
  • Instructed Eucharist: When will we have it and what preparations are needed to be made, such as the lay leaders and the format.
  • Are the questions we want to ask as examples for the Congregations to stimulate a discussion to help as learn more about our faith. For example: "What do the liturgical colors mean?
  • Renewal Works: How do we continue/revive the works we began when we undertook the Renweal Woks Program?

There is still time to RSVP...

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

These are hard times

SERMON: 4 Lent B 3 11 18
Num21:4-9; Ps107:1-3,17-22; Eph2:1-10; Jn3:14-21
How many of you remember President Ronald Reagan? His silky voice? His perpetual cheer? His indifference to facts, in that respect kind of like the guy we've got now? He's back. At least a recognizable facsimile of his voice is back in the form of his son, Ron Reagan. Ron Reagan has been on TV lately on behalf of an organization of atheists and agnostics, fretting about the intrusion of religion into politics and, for that matter, everyday life.

Personally I agree with him. I think Ron Reagan is a smart guy. I've heard him comment on progressive topics and I have agreed with him. I share his concern that people who think they have all the answers thanks to their faith are trying to impose those answers on others. That irks me. I don't think that's the way God wants us to evangelize.

But what I love about the TV commercial I saw is that after making a pretty good case for people sending his organization money, Ron Reagan signs off with a smile and a friendly nod, "This is Ron Reagan, atheist, not afraid to burn in hell."

In a short commercial -- 30 seconds I think -- Ron Reagan demonstrates something that I think a lot of churches and other religions miss: the idea of an angry and punishing God doesn't work; we need incentives, not threats. I'm not afraid to burn in hell, either. But I believe in God and I believe in Jesus because by getting to know them I have found a way of life that provides me with everything I need. It helps me be a good person and helps me become a better person. It shows me how to live with those I love and how to treat those I encounter whom I don't even know. My faith invites and encourages me to consider my choices, preferably before I act on my decisions, so I can seek to align my schemes with what I understand to be the will of God. That is, love God and love my neighbor. It's not complicated and it's not that difficult. But when I fail to do the very best, even when I slack off completely, I don't think the prospect of hell necessarily looms larger.

Truth be told, my sense of God and God's son Jesus is that they are pleased when I or anyone else makes the right decision. It is affirming the teaching and the manner of living that Christ brought into the world, so I get a sense of holy endorsement when I choose properly. Frankly I don't think God and Jesus are that concerned about misbehavior. Maybe because, like me, they've decided to concentrate on the positive.

You wouldn't know it from today's readings. So I am not going to dwell on them. What I would like to dwell on is the Great Litany which we prayed at the beginning of today's service. And I want to tie it into an immediate problem for you and for me and for our community. Something to consider as a Lenten discipline.
I'm going to pick out a handful of the things we prayed for in the Great Litany. We prayed to be delivered from "blindness of heart, pride, vainglory, hypocrisy, envy, hatred, malice and want of charity." We prayed to be delivered from "inordinate and sinful affections and from all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil, false doctrine, heresy, and schism; from hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word and commandment, from lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and flood; from plague, pestilence, and famine, oppression, conspiracy, and rebellion; from violence, battle, and murder; and from dying suddenly and unprepared."

Should I stop here or go on?

Later in this service we will pray and commission the wardens, vestry and committee chairs of this parish. To complement that we earlier prayed that God might "rule and govern thy holy Church Universal in the right way." Later we will pray for God to guide our parish leaders in this way. We prayed that "all might hear and receive thy Word, and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit," and for God "to bring into the way of truth all such as have erred, and are deceived." I presume that includes us when we qualify as erring or deceived. We asked God to show pity on "all prisoners and captives, the homeless and the hungry, and all who are desolate and oppressed." Then we asked God "to inspire us ... to do the work which thou givest us to do with singleness of heart as thy servants, and for the common good."

Finally we prayed to God to "visit the lonely; to strengthen all who suffer in mind, body, and spirit; and to comfort with thy presence those who are failing and infirm," and "to support, help, and comfort all who are in danger, necessity, and tribulation."

Those things we prayed for remind us we want God to forgive us and to take care of some things that we think God alone can handle. Then we are reminded by our conscience, or maybe by this sermon, that we are the Body of Christ in the world at this time. If someone's going to do the work of God, it's going to be you or me or some other faithful person similarly motivated.

I mention this because when we pray for forgiveness and ask God to help others we need to be really clear about who we're talking about helping and just what we expect God to do. Do we expect God to help people in our community more than we ourselves are willing to help them? We prayed earlier to be delivered from "blindness of heart, pride, vainglory, hypocrisy, envy, hatred, malice and want of charity." Do we hope that somehow frees us from helping those who we later prayed that God would show pity on: "all prisoners and captives, the homeless and the hungry, and all who are desolate and oppressed?" Of course not.

We in fact admitted that we wanted God "to inspire us ... to do the work which thou givest us to do with singleness of heart as thy servants, and for the common good."

We already do much of this here at St. Paul's and in our other commitments and engagements in the community. However, I would like to bring to your attention today a new problem for us to face. This is not only occurring nationally, but in Dutchess County. I'm talking specifically about opioid addiction and the number of overdoses, including fatalities, which are connected with this problem. We need to help.  This epidemic does not discriminate and is affecting all members of our community.

As a community and as part of the larger community I believe we are called to be present and to offer support, encouragement, hope and, yes, even faith to those suffering from this plague. They may be addicts. They may be family members. They may be mourning a death from overdose. They may have a family member in prison because of addiction. We need to reach out to them and encourage them to permit us to help them, whether it's by listening or bowling, or prayer or sharing a meal or just sitting quietly or one of a zillion other things that community members do for one another in hard times. And these are hard times. There are tragedies happening every day when a person chooses drug-induced oblivion over community and family. These are tragedies which can be averted and can be reversed. But we need to let people know -- all the affected people--that we care and we will do what we can to help.

We also need to encourage other people of faith --Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Bahais, and others-- to do the same. We should not sit still while members of our spiritual community are hurting.

This outreach is likely to become an initiative of the Dutchess County Interfaith Council in the coming weeks. We are already working with the Dutchess County Health Department to identify congregational strategies to help us and others reach out to those who are hurting from this crisis. A community forum April 19 at the department's 230 North Road training room is scheduled to share information and plan a response and to organize interested groups in Poughkeepsie. For your information I intend to invite Narcotics Anonymous to bring their meetings back to St. Paul's so we can help in that way. This issue, this initiative, is vital, immediate and it belongs to you and to me.

This is our calling just like it is our calling to help people who are hungry. Let's organize around this as a Lenten discipline in the beginning and as a ministry to continue. And let us conclude with the prayer For the Victims of Addiction on page 831 of our Book of Common Prayer.

A sermon preached March 11, 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                 495     Hail, thou once despised Jesus! (In Babilone)
1982                 441     In the Cross of Christ I glory (Rathbun)
1982                 439     What wondrous love is this (Wondrous Love)
1982                 370     I bind unto myself today (St. Patrick's Breastplate)

HYMN INFORMATION: "Saint Patrick's Breastplate" is a prayer of protection. The words are traditionally attributed to Saint Patrick from the 5th century and in 1889 were adapted as a hymn. Each verse, except the sixth, begins with the words "I bind unto myself today," then lists divine sources of strength called on for support:
The first verse invokes the Holy Trinity.
The second verse invokes Christ's baptism, death, resurrection, ascension, and future return.
The third verse invokes the angels, patriarchs, saints, and martyrs.
The fourth verse invokes the power the natural world.
The fifth verse invokes aspects of God -- his wisdom, his eye, his ear, his hand.
The sixth verse calls for Christ's presence in all things.
The last verse reaffirms the power of the Holy Trinity.


MARCH 12-18, 2018

MON 12           7:30am AA Meeting;                     
                        6pm Evening Prayer; Worship/ Altar Guild;             
TUE 13            10am-2pm Office, Food Pantry, Small Blessings Thrift Shop;                      
                         6pm Evening Prayer, Bible Study;   
WED 14            7:30am AA Meeting;       
THUR 15         10am-2pm Office, Food Pantry, Small Blessings Thrift Shop;                             
FRI 16              7:30am AA meeting;
    5:30 pm Lenten Supper and Meditation followed by Compline

SAT 17             10am-1am S.H. Private Event  
                         6pm Corned Beef & Cabbage Dinner            
SUN 18            8am Rite I
                         8:45am Lessons' Discussion
                         9:30am Choir practice;  
           10am Rite II- Celebrating birthdays & anniversaries
           10am Sunday School;
           11:15am Coffee Hour; final "Beloved Community" meditation


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