St. Paul's Episcopal Church Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

"Making friends while serving God"

The Week of July 7-12, 2020
In this week's Old Testament lesson we have the juxtaposition of the two sons of Isaac;  Esau the older working man rugged favorite son of the father and Jacob the quiet thoughtful favorite son of the mother.  The twins together can be seen as the two sides of our internal struggle of body versus mind.
This week's readings

In a moment of weariness from a hard day's work Esau is willing to trade his birthright (the next in line to the lineage that ends with Jesus) to his brother for a bowl of stew.
This story is an extreme example warning us against falling to the temptation of instant gratification.
Jacob doesn't escape criticism though.  Jacob tricked his brother and lied to his father.  Jacob carries guilt from this for much of the rest of his life.  Many years later he makes a big deal of offering restitution to his brother.
Though we have evolved and have been culturally nurtured to favor the mind side of or human nature over the body side of our human nature we must realize that we need both.  Body can't function without mind and mind can't function without body.
In a weird way this relates one realization that has come out of the Covid pandemic.  Workers that were once overlooked and are minimally paid (grocery store stockers, bus drivers, meat processors) are now seen as essential workers.  They've been essential all along and now that we realize this maybe we can value them not just in spirit, but where it really matters (paying them more, passing laws that guarantee a living minimum wage, insuring health care for all). These "body" workers deserve the same life benefits as "mind" workers.

--Shawn Prater-Lee  
To be redirected to the Lectionary Page and get a digital copy of the readings  
    Genesis 25:19-34 ; Psalm 119:105-112 ; Romans 8:1-11; Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23       
The Sunday sermon
Matthew 11: 16-19, 25-30

So I was walking down a street in San Francisco, and I happened upon a friend from another parish. She told me she was feeling sad because suddenly an assistant priest who was very popular in her church was made to leave. "Why?" I asked. "Did he get caught stealing money?" Or "Was he and someone else caught in the choir loft in a compromising situation?" "No!" she said; "it was because he was seen walking down Polk Street wearing a sweatshirt." Boy! Was I stunned! But then I realized that apparently in that very conservative parish they had a pretty clear picture in their minds of what a priest was supposed to look like when out in public, and a guy walking down Polk Street wearing a sweatshirt just didn't fit the picture. So, he was let go.
In a way, that was the same kind of issue that Jesus faced. It's not that Jesus ever walked around the streets of Nazareth or Jerusalem in a sweatshirt, but it did seem that people in that day and age had a pretty clear picture in their minds of what the Messiah was supposed to look like and how he was to behave, and as far as they were concerned, Jesus wasn't what they pictured.
If we were to read the portion of the 11th chapter of Matthew, just prior to the section that we heard as today's gospel, we would find John the Baptist asking the following question: "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?" Or put another way, "Jesus, are you the one sent from God, because you are not exactly what I was expecting?"
John was looking for a fire and brimstone Messiah with sword in hand, prepared to stir up the Jewish people, to gather them into a strong force that would take on the Roman legions and push them off of their necks. When Jesus came along he was a gentle man, inviting people to come to him if they were weary and carrying heavy burdens and he would give them rest. He embraced children and brought them up on his lap. He and his followers roamed the Palestinian countryside preaching about the importance of love, talking to tax collectors and sinners telling them that God loved them. His message, his demeanor just did not match up with the picture that many had of a warrior Messiah. And also instead of spending time with the "proper" people, instead of giving direction to the Pharisees, the Sadducees and others, he spent more time hanging out with despondent folks who were doing their best to put up with the Roman government's oppression. He kept telling them how much God loved them and forgave their sins. He really didn't fit the picture.
In the face of that opposition and rejection, Jesus mentioned a short parable that we heard as part of today's gospel. He said, "To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another. 'We played the flute for you and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn." I went to the commentaries and my research indicated that Jesus is describing a bunch of kids sitting around, bored, because they cannot agree on what game to play. Apparently, some wanted to have a pretend wedding, hence the phrase "We played the flute for you but you did not dance." While others wanted to have a pretend funeral, hence the phrase "We wailed but you did not mourn." Consequently, because neither group was open to what the other group was suggesting, they all ended up just sitting there and doing nothing. Quite likely what Jesus was getting at in that parable is that sometimes we get a position stuck in our heads, and we are not about to change our thinking. Consequently, we tune out anything that anyone else might recommend because that doesn't match our way of thinking.
The movie Chocolat which was in the motion picture theatres, I believe, back in the seventies, made a lasting impression on me. I got to see it again on television perhaps six months ago. The main character is a woman named Vianne Rocher, who I recognized as a Christ figure, even though the movie encouraged us to think of her as some kind of a pagan princess. Definitely she was perceived as a threat to the local forces of morality. That is to say, she was a threat to the village mayor and the young parish priest. Vianne and her young daughter had arrived in the small village just as the holy season of Lent was beginning. Immediately she angered the mayor because she elected to work on Sundays, and she opened, of all things, a chocolate shop; a sacred time of the year when people should be avoiding such luxuries, she was selling chocolates. And somehow, mysteriously she was able to determine the particular kind of chocolate that best suited each of her customers; and it was as if by wizardry that her chocolates greatly improved the lives of those who visited her store. So, despite warnings from the mayor and the priest, customers continued to frequent her shop.
When a calloused, brutal husband of a woman in the village beat her up, Vianne took her in and refused to give her up when the mayor showed up at her shop and demanded that it was proper for the woman to return to her battering husband. Vianne did many things that helped bring about reconciliation between people who had maintained long time grudges against each other, many things that helped the disenfranchised, the weary and those who needed rest.
Sometimes we get so entrenched in our heads the way we want things to be that we just tune out anything that doesn't fit the picture we have in mind. That's what happened to the children who couldn't agree on a game to play. That's what happened with the mayor and the priest; and that's what happened with the people in Jesus' day. They had it so stuck in their minds about what the Messiah should be like, that when he stood before them in all of his gentleness, they tuned him out because he just didn't match what they expected.
I hate to say this, but there are times when the Church, you and me, we get stuck with a way of thinking; we get stuck with an image that is embedded in our minds that blinds us from seeing the Christ reaching out to us, wanting us to be his hands, his voice, his arms, wanting us to bring rest to someone who is tired, alone and despondent. All I ask is that we have courage to challenge ourselves to be open to Christ's call perhaps from places unexpected. 
--Fr. C. Allan Ford



After having done Zoom church for almost four months we will resume in person worship with a 10:00 am service this Sunday.  The service will also be shown live on Zoom using the same link we have used for the last two months.

In light of the ongoing world pandemic, under the direction of the Bishop, and with great deliberation of the Vestry in person worship will resume, but with (at least for the time being) some changes.

We will have a single service on Sundays with no midweek healing service.  All congregants will be required to wear masks.  Pews will be marked off to easily facilitate social distancing between family groups.  All music will be instrumental with no singing. The Peace will be a non contact event.  At the recommendation of the Bishop we will not be observing communion.  There will be no coffee hour.

Bathrooms will be open, but please use a paper towel to touch all common surfaces: doors and sink handles.

There are other tweaks that will be made to facilitate the reopening of the Church.  Please know that these changes will be as small as possible and are done with the health and safety of our church family as top priority.

Please bring your mask and your patience to 161 Mansion Street on Sunday as we again get to worship together in the church.  Thanks be to God.
--Shawn Prater-Lee

July 2, 2020
My Brothers and Sisters,
As many of our churches prepare to resume public worship this week, or in coming weeks, there is a matter which I should have had in my letter of last week but didn't. It is this: You must make a list of everyone who attends each worship service or gathering, and date and keep the lists, so that if there is an outbreak of COVID which can be tied to your church you will be able to give this information to contact tracers who must track down the source of infections. Someone should stand at the entrance and record the names as people arrive. It is also important that you let people know that their names will be given, if requested, to contact tracers should there be a COVID outbreak connected to the church. Not everyone will be comfortable with that, but in the Diocese of New York we will fully cooperate with those in governance who are trying to control this disease. Thank you. Bless you,
The Right Reverend Andrew ML Dietsche
Bishop of New York
Total deposit for the past week - $1890 ($105 for the Food Pantry). Many thanks to all who are remembering their pledge and to those both within and outside of the church who are generously supporting the Food Pantry.  
Semi-Annual statements are ready to be distributed at church on Sunday.  If you aren't there to pick yours up, it will be mailed.  We're looking forward to seeing everyone in person on Sunday.  Don't forget to wear your mask!!!  

Dear St. Paul's Family:
The Reparations Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of New York is presenting an online retreat - Knee on My Neck: Slavery's Ghost - Slavery in the United States and Its Residual Impact on Human Life." The Reverend Masud Ibn Syedullah TSSF is the Director of Roots and Branches, a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and is our presenter. This retreat is a 'series to explore corrective thought and action towards racial healing.' We meet once each week for 90 minutes, from June 19 to July 15, 2020.
Session 1: Political, Economic, and Social Foundations of the United States of  
Session 2: Influences of Slavery in Post Reconstruction Era to the Present
Session 3: Definitions: Prejudice, Racism, Racist
Session 4: Theological/Spiritual Perspectives
Session 5: A Way Forward
The sessions and break out groups give us a chance to share and learn from each other. The retreat has over 150 online participants. At the end of the retreat I will provide a list of reading materials and online videos. Also, you can listen to a review of past sessions by using this link 
FYI:The Reparations Committee maintains a prayer blog that it started with its three-year pilgrimage of Lamentation, Apology and Reparations. We invite you to visit it during this retreat: 
Food Pantry Update
A big thank you to United Way for the Orange-Dutchess Region for donating 10, 12 oz bottles of hand sanitizers to St. Paul's on Friday June 26, 2020. I want to acknowledge these agencies and churches that have partnered with us for years and those that have recently come along side us as we serve our community:- First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Dutchess County Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Adams Fairacre Farms, Joseph's House, St. martin DePores Knights of Columbus, Christ Episcopal Church, and all our private donors, Community Transitions Center, and Dutchess County Behavioral and Community Health. Our volunteers have been a blessing....words cannot express my gratitude for their presence during the heat of the battle with COVID-19. There are lots of others behind the scenes who have been with us praying and taking care of business. To our volunteers who are home now during the pandemic, we can't wait to have you back, you are missed and loved. Until then, may our God of Love and Mercy keep you all close and safe. 
--Deacon Julett

  7 Janet Quade
11 Ginny Gates   
17 Oluinayemisi Oni

22 Ruthie A.Hodge
28 Michael Babb

13 Sharon Sherow

27 Faith Mincey



Please keep those on our parish prayer list in your minds and in your 
prayers, especially at this time of separation and isolation.

JULY 2020
Our prayers are asked for:
Daniel Mizell and family; Liz, Martha; Lourdes; Eileen; the Butler; Richards and  
Barrett families; Fr. Allan and family; St. Paul's Vestry; Darien family; Richardson  
family; Sherow family; Edna Clarke, Michelle, Phil, Kathy B.; Carola and Violet;  
Whitman, Medical Reserve Corp. of Dutchess County, Dept. of Behavioral and  
Community health of Dutchess county; Peggy;The Bedrossian family; Seth;Lori;  
The Laken family;
All parishioners; Kairos International, Catherine, Michelle,  
Yamily; G.J., Joe; Lois,
Matthew, Lillian; Lynita,Perry, Melius family, Sasha;  
Stacey, Linda, Phil, Jody; Tucker
family, Branch family, Atkinson family; Ibadan  
Diocese, All Saints Anglican Church,
Oni family; Donna; Alison, McGhan,  
Sterling, Unah, Avonel, Kim, Santos family,
Madeline, Bramble, Charlie, Cynthia,  
Gencia, Val, Joanne, Janet, Corkey, Pelaez,
Josephs-Clarke family, Dixon family,  
Paulette, Jarah, Mertlyn; Adam, Paul, Andrew
& family, Douglas family, Annie,  
Ron, Dave, Liz; Jill, Lana, Andrew, Susan;
Schneider family, all in need; Susie;  
Sherry, Claudia

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St. Paul's Episcopal Church-Poughkeepsie

'In Service to God & You'

Our food pantry volunteers are in active service at St. Paul's these days. We give thanks to them and thanks to God for their willingness to help us by helping others.


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