The Week of July 14-19, 2020
To be redirected to the Lectionary Page and get a digital copy of the readings
Prayer is like a ladder, and the arousal from below through
prayer creates an arousal
from above. The colors below are mirrored in the sky above.
The light in the sky is not from the sun or moon but from the "source of light," the
. The ladder
seems to send a current
of energy down into the physical world, infusing the objects in it with brightness and vitality.
jumps out from the frame of the picture. His presence is within the physical world while his dream spans the two worlds: physical and spiritual. The angels are traveling messengers, transmitting his prayers upwards and drawing Godliness down.
Psalm 139: 1-11, 22-23
The Sunday sermon
Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23
This parable, as Matthew presents it, is not easy for a preacher; primarily because it is so familiar to everybody. Most of us have heard it so many times; we think we know what it means before we even hear it the third or fourth time. In fact we think we know it so well that in some ways we tune out and don't really hear it that 20th or 30th time. For me, I like parables to be oblique, to be hard to understand, to be partially shrouded in mystery, hopefully showing us something new each time we hear them. But I got to tell you something. If you listen to this parable carefully, I believe you will find a lot of mystery in it each and every time.
The crowd, the people Jesus was speaking to lived in an agrarian society. They were people whose livelihoods were based on what the land produced. I remember a priest in a farming community in the northern part of Vermont, rising from his seat to say grace during a luncheon. He did the regular thing, thanking God for the food and the hands that prepared it. And he asked that the food would bring nourishment to us so that we might continue the work we were called to do in God's service. But then he added something more. He said, "And we thank you God for the precious land from which this food comes," very important words to the listeners, most of whom were farmers. I believe the people in the crowd, listening to Jesus would have prayed a similar prayer. The land was precious to them. And so were the seeds and the products brought forth from the seeds, they were precious also.
And then, in the parable, came that crazy sower. I call him crazy because the sower didn't dig a nice trench and put in some Weed-B-Gone and some plant vitamins. The sower didn't make those little holes neatly all in a row and drop the precious seeds in one by one. Oh no, this sower took the seeds by the handful and flung them all over the place; some fell on the path, some fell among rocks, some fell over the thorns, and some fell on good soil.
For years in listening to this parable, most of us have been caught up in the idea that folks came only from the good soil, because if we were from the rocky area the amount of soil that was available was not sufficient to maintain plant growth. If we were from the path, we would be trampled by the people who continually walked on us. And how could we survive if we fell among the chocking thorns? Impossible.
But here, at least for today, is my spin regarding this parable. God is not concerned about the soil! God is about sowing! He's about being this crazy, loony sower who threw the seeds all over the place. What a fool this God is that he will sow, that he will throw the seeds any old place. But that's the point. The point is that we have a crazy, wonderful, generous God; a God who does not carefully, stingily, reluctantly parcel out grace and goodness in specialized places. He just lets his grace fly!
I want to tell you another story about another priest who took over a parish in a poor inner-city area. His rectory was next to a backyard, a backyard into which the people in the surrounding tenements threw their garbage. It was a mess. The floor of the backyard was concrete, but it was old, broken up concrete which allowed small, tiny pockets of dirt to be exposed. This good priest loved flowers, and in the early spring of his first year in the parish he dared to plant flowers in some of the skimpy, exposed areas of dirt. He fertilized the heck out of it, and watered the area regularly and prayed that even though he didn't have much to work with, flowers might bloom later in the spring.
Simultaneously, he began to work with some of the youngsters in the neighborhood, kids that the community had given up on, because it was determined that they were unsalvageable. Like the flowers he planted, he nourished them. He invited them into the rectory and fed them pizzas which they greatly enjoyed. But what they liked the most was his specialty, all they could eat, banana pancakes, smothered in syrup and butter which he prepared every Friday evening in concert with a rented movie. He took them to major league baseball games. Some of them he allowed to sleep in the rectory when things were not good between them and their parents. In time, some of the young people began to give back the love they were receiving from him. Without being asked, they decided to remove the garbage out of the backyard. The tenants, seeing what was happening, stopped throwing their garbage out the windows. Some of them began to serve at the altar. And some, five or six years into their relationship with Father's support entered college.
The care and love he gave to those youngsters everybody had given up on, was similar to the care and love he put into his flowers. And every year his flowers bloomed beautifully as the backyard became a recreation spot for the old men of the neighborhood who sat on their wooden crates and played dominos all day into the evening.
God had tossed his seeds and they had fallen on a place where growth was not expected, but God's amazing grace can do wonderful things even in rocky, weed choked, road trampled places, even in concrete, garbage filled backyards, even in neighborhoods where the children don't stand a chance.
As disciples of Christ we have to keep our hearts open. If I may add a little levity, it is important that we keep pancake mix in our homes because we never know when we will be called upon to entertain angels in disguise. Amen.
--Fr. C. Allan Ford
IN CHURCH WORSHIP SERVICES ON SUNDAY
There will be 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 continue as it did last week, 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.
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
A NOTE FROM THE TREASURY TEAM
Total deposit for the past week - $2791 ($535 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!!!
Knee on My Neck: Slavery's Ghost
Some Suggested Resources for Individuals and Groups
The Rev. Masud Ibn Syedullah TSSF, Director
Roots & Branches: Programs for Spiritual Growth
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.
New York, NY: The New Press, 2010, 2012.
Barber II, The Rev. Dr. William J.
The Third Reconstruction: How A Moral Movement is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear.
Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2016.
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism.
Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2018.
Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the U.S.,
Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2019
Waking up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race.
Cambridge, MA: Elephant Room Press, 2014. Jarrett-Schell, Peter.
Seeing My Skin (A Story of Wrestling with Whiteness).
New York, NY: Church Publishing, 2019.
Kendi, Ibram X.
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.
New York, NY: Bold Type Books, 2016
These Truths: A History of the United States.
New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2018.
Meeks, Catherine & Stroupe, Nibs.
Passionate for Justice: Ida B. Wells As Prophet for Our Time.
New York, NY: Church Publishing, 2019.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.
New Yok, NY: Spiegel & Grau, 2014.
America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America.
Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2016.
New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2006.
Food Pantry Update
This past week the St. Paul's Food Pantry received a $500 for COVID Relief. Thank you, United Way of the Dutchess and Orange Region for all you are doing to support our community. Please support our United Way because your financial donations come back to help us all provide for our neighbors in Christ. "One hand washes the other."
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.
Our prayers are asked for:
Beryl & Glen, Vincent family; Rev. Susan of Christ Church; George; Stephanie,
Aaron; 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;
Kairos International, Catherine, Michelle, Yamily; G.J., Joe;
Lillian; Lynita,Perry, Melius family, Sasha; Stacey, Linda, Phil,
family, Branch family, Atkinson family; Ibadan Diocese, All Saints
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.