St. Paul's Episcopal Church   Poughkeepsie, NY 12601


MESSENGER
"Making friends while serving God"

The week of September 24-30, 2018  
Eldad and Medad
  

 Numbers 11:4-6,10-16,24-29;  Psalm 19:7-14
James 5:13-20; Mark 9:38-50
 


Truth has no owner

bible.jpg
This week's readings
Our Gospel and our Hebrew Bible reading this week have a remarkable and delightful similarity. In our Hebrew Bible reading, from the Book of Numbers, Moses is tearing his hair out because his followers are such major complainers. He is authorized to call together 70 elders who will help Moses lead his ragtag flock. He brings the leaders together and they are commissioned to join in Moses' work, but they fall far short. But Eldad and Medad, two men not among those called, start to minister to the people without obtaining a commission.
 
In the Gospel reading, the parallel story involves individuals not of Jesus' usual gaggle of followers. They are reported to be casting our demons in the name of Jesus. Perhaps we need to remember that last Sunday we read of the disciples immediately challenging one another for the title of leader, having just heard of the expected earthly end of Christ. This overreaching, this power grab tendency, seems to infect both the Hebrews following Moses and the infant Christians following Jesus.
 
When his followers complain about Eldad and Medad, Moses asks, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!" And when Jesus' followers report they tried to stop the one casting out evil spirits, Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us."
 
For two thousand years Christianity has suffered from a reputation of exclusion, not engaging with the non-Christians in the world. This has changed in the last century, but the story remains in the Bible for a reason. Jesus was all about changing the hearts of people, encouraging them to love one another. He ultimately realized he was sent to convey this message to all people, not just the Jews. Yet even today some Christians (and those of other faiths) seem to think they have a monopoly on God's truth.


P A R I S H  N E W S



TIME & TALENT PLEDGES DUE SUN 9/30

FROM THE STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEE: Be sure to fill out your Time & Talent Pledge form and return it by September 30th.   Many thanks to the several people who have already returned theirs. We're hoping to hear from 100% of the congregation!!
  

Historic Graveyard Tour Tickets Available For Sale
 
Parish Aid is organizing a group to go see the famous graveyard tour at St. James' Episcopal Church in Hyde Park. This year the tour will feature historical characters commemorating the centennial of the end of World War II, including Ogden Livingston Mills, who will start off the tour in the church with a welcome and a few words about his wartime service.
 
Molly Jones has purchased a block of tickets and has 12 remaining. Tickets are $20, and the proceeds support St. James' Church. The date is Friday evening, October 19. The tour begins at 7:30pm and lasts for an hour. Participants who want to car pool can meet at 7:00pm in St. Paul's parking lot. Please see Molly if you have a question or want to purchase a ticket.


Consecration Sunday is coming on November 18th. The 10:00am Service will be the only service that day with a luncheon following.  Mark your calendars and be sure to be there.
 
   
 
LATIN AMERICAN DINNER & CONCERT

Sundae Sunday Open House: SAVE THE DATE! October 28th from  2pm - 5pm.  More information to follow - watch The Messenger to learn more.


GREAT NEWS!
         25 WEEK CLUB TICKETS AVAILABLE NOW!
Be sure to get yours ASAP in order to get in all of the drawings. 
Here's a reminder of how it works:
  
Tickets are $25.00 each. Drawings will be held every Sunday from July 1 - December 9.   Prizes for those drawings are $10 and $20.  

Recent winners have been: Bobbie Gordon, Peggie Bedrossian,, Kevin Kelly, Molly Jones, Will Tyler, Val Stelcen, Mary Martin, Barbara Marino. Be sure to get a ticket so you have a chance to be a lucky winner too.

The final drawing will be December 15 at a party that will include dinner and perhaps musical entertainment. Prizes awarded that day will be $10, $20 plus the big prizes of $500, $250, $150, $100 & $50. 
You can win multiple times since your ticket is always returned to the pile so that it's there for the final drawing.  All parishioners are asked to buy or sell at least 2 tickets.

Tickets to sell are available from Bobbie Gordon. Tickets for purchase are available from Vestry members and Debbie Pitcher, Deb Williams, Rose Marie Proctor, Charlie Benjamin, Cynthia Benjamin, Janet Quade and Bobbie Gordon.


C O M M U N I T Y   N E W S



Sunday Sermon...
                                                
                 Who wants to be first?
 
SERMON: 18 Pentecost B 9 23 18
Pro31:10-31; Ps1;Js3:13-4:3,7-8a;Mk 9:30-37
 
I was speaking with a clergy friend this week who mentioned their parish has engaged in Renewal Works, as we did a couple of years ago. My friend observed that parish leaders and other laypeople had achieved a very high rate of response to the Spiritual Life Inventory, the survey of people's and dislikes in church. My friend said that the congregation really came out and said things that were surprising. Like how they don't believe, most of them, that the authority of the Bible directs their lives in any meaningful way.
 
We had a great chat about how useful an anonymous survey can be. It can shine a light on what people really think, even though they may not want to talk about it or, in this case, admit it in any public way.
 
What a gift! as my thought. Folks really putting it out there, even anonymously. Then the parish knows what it's dealing with. Just the issue of Biblical authority alone invites all kinds of reflection and insight. At least I think so.
This conversation fit perfectly with our readings this week. If you look at our Hebrew Bible reading from Proverbs you see what the writer thought the attributes of a capable wife should be. It goes on and on and on. Her husband, lucky fellow that he is, evidently, sits in the council of elders and praises her. That's all the reading has to say about him. But about the wife there is much: her skills are endless, her capabilities boundless, her respect in the community impeccable. It's a job description for a PhD in home economics.
 
But what I think it really is, given the times and the limitations on women's opportunities then, is a profound example of how much can be done if one is faithful to the tasks at hand and, clearly from the reading, is prayerful and ever seeking God's will as one performs mundane tasks.
 
Our Epistle reading from the Letter of James sets down a different set of markers. It reorients those who would seek advantage over others, who would let their ambition drive them, rather than their love of neighbor. In very clear language the Letter of James asserts, "Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth...(W)here there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind."
 
This is a different task list than that applied to the capable wife in the reading from Proverbs. This list reminds us that how we live our lives, how we interact with others, is the test of the state of our souls. It goes on, "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace."
Biblical authority doesn't compel us; it entices us. It offers us hope for a better life when we behave as better people. I suppose some people are waiting for the lightning bolt from above to jolt them into proper living. But the Bible doesn't promise that. At least not in this life. This life is about figuring out the right thing to do and doing it.
I think our Gospel captures exceedingly well the human dilemma in terms of this matter of getting our instructions from the Bible. Biblical authority refers to the credibility of the Bible, its capacity to represent for us what we consider the Word of God. And in the Gospel we encounter the perpetual human dilemma.
 
That dilemma is played out in many ways, but it boils down to this: can we get the information we need and can we do the right thing with it? This is the eternal question confronting us.
 
Everyone here probably knows one of my very favorite movie scenes was from "A Few Good Men," in which Jack Nicholson plays a morally bankrupt Marine colonel and Tom Cruise plays a naïve young Navy lawyer. After a series of deflected questions the lawyer demands from the colonel, "I just want the truth." The colonel, who has rationalized his orders which led to a marine's death almost lunges out of the courtroom witness box and yells, "You can't handle the truth!"
 
From this profound theological source I draw two things: first, the truth is sometimes difficult, unpleasant, uncomfortable. Second, humans are capable of seeing in others misdeeds and characteristics they themselves possess.
 
This came to mind when I was reading the Gospel. Jesus has brought his disciples together to spell out what lies ahead for him. It is grim, it is unpleasant, it will rock the world. How do they respond? Well, at first they were silent. Then they admitted they were arguing about who was the greatest, that is, who would be in charge when Jesus was gone.
 
Look at this story. Here's Jesus explaining the very sad and very important details of what is about to happen to him. And how do his disciples deal with it?
 
First let's ask how should they deal with it? Should they ask why? Should they ask for details? Should they inquire if this is actually God's plan? Should they express dismay at the potential loss of their friend and guide? Should they tell Jesus they'll miss him and try to do the best they can to live in his image when he's gone?
Those all seem like pretty good ideas to me. Not so much the arguing about who was the greatest.
What Jesus realized was that his followers, the men who had been with him for three years and knew more about him than anyone else on earth, well, they hadn't been paying attention. They immediately started scheming and positioning themselves for his position, as if, as if, AS IF one of them could fill Jesus' shoes.
Jesus must have just shaken his head. "There they go again," he would have thought. Those disciples started in on their self-serving squabbles once they heard a whisper of Jesus' fate. They didn't wait until he was gone. They just went at it.
 
Jesus realized what he had to do. It wasn't a matter of what he had to say. It was a matter of how he presented it. He had to treat them like children.
 
Our reading continues, "He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."
 
To get his point across Jesus had to get down to their level. He had to be in a more conversational mode, not like the tutor or teacher. Then he had to tell them that the greatest serve, they don't get served.
 
Now this message was probably not the best news to the disciples. They had managed to miss the very nature of Jesus' earthly ministry, in which he helped and healed and just sat with folks who needed his healing grace. He didn't demand payment or praise or even a soft cushion.
 
Jesus took a child in his arms and told the disciples "whoever welcomes a child in my name ... welcomes the one who sent me," meaning God.
 
It's safe to say that the disciples had not been thinking about serving God and serving others. They had been thinking of themselves. Jesus turned the tables on them by clarifying in the most graphic way how we turn ourselves into servants as we love our neighbor. We do not lord it --our position, our generosity, our prestige--over them.
 
This is Biblical authority in big type. This is the rulemaker clarifying the rules so we can understand. We know this is a difficult truth, at least at first. But when we experience the joy of service to others, when we are able to be of aid with no credit or glory and feel wonderful about it, then we know God has moved us to appreciate that which Jesus called us to do.
 
Love one another.
Amen
 
A sermon preached Sept. 23, 2018 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Poughkeepsie NY by The Rev. Tyler Jones, Rector

 

 
                                                  SEPTEMBER
 
 1     Notoe Hodge                                                14      Clifford DuBois Jr.
        Brandon Clarke                                                      Jack Porter
4      Brian McCarthy                                             21      Aleen Josephs Clarke
7      Florence Greenway                                      22      Shamara Wethington Mizell
        Rebecca Lynn Brown                                              Douglas Robinson
9      Janet Woods                                                 23      Benjamin Porter
        Judith Mizell                                                  24      Gladys Morais
11    Louise Evans                                                28      Adrian Goldson
12    Marjorie Marks                                              29      Daphne Barrett
        Colleen Misner                                              30      Tom Walker

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St. Paul's Episcopal Church-Poughkeepsie
 
 

'In Service to God & You'  
  
SUNDAY 8AM
Server:            Maria Bell
  
Lectors:           Rose Marie Proctor
                        Tom Walker
  
Litanist:           Pete Bedrossian
  
SUNDAY 10AM
Organist:         Maris Kristapsons
  
Acolytes:         Shawn Prater-Lee                 
  
Lectors:           Lisl Prater-Lee
                        Bobbie Gordon
  
Litanist:           Mark Debald
  
Usher:             Dewy Clarke
                        Mark Debald
  
Altar Guild:      Hyacinth & Daphne

Greeters:         Rose Marie Proctor
                        Alexis Plain
                        Barbara Gavin
 
 
 
 
 
 
THIS WEEK'S HYMNS

1982                 609        Where cross the crowded ways of life

LEVAS-II           178       Sweet hour of prayer

1982                 309        O Food to pilgrims given

1982                 344        Lord, dismiss us with thy blessing

 
 
HYMN INFORMATION: The melody for Lord, Dismiss Us With Thy Blessing originated as a Roman Catholic hymn in Latin. Titled "O Sanctissima" (O most holy), it was sung on the feast days of the Virgin Mary. The earliest known publication was in London in 1785, as "The Prayer of the Sicilian Mariners," where it was presented as a traditional song from Sicily, though no source has ever been provided to support that origin. The name refers to seafarers' nightly prayer to Mary as their protector. The tune is also well known as a German Christmas carol with the title "O du fröhliche" (O, how joyful), and in 1835 was published in America with the present text, "Lord, Dismiss Us With Thy Blessing." There are also striking melodic similarities to the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome."



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
THIS WEEK'S CALENDAR
September 24-30, 2018

MON 24                    7:30am "Good Morning" AA Meeting;  
                                 6pm Evening Prayer, Vestry;  
                                 6:30pm NA Meeting "Journey to Recovery";                                             
                                                                                                                                                
TUE 25                      10am-2pm Office, Food Pantry, Small Blessings Thrift Shop; 
                                  6pm Evening Prayer, Bible Study;
                                                                                                                                                                           
WED 26                     7:30am "Good Morning" AA Meeting;  
                                 10am-2pm Office, Food Pantry, Small Blessings Thrift Shop;   
                                 12:15pm Healing Service & Eucharist;    
                                                                                                                                                                 
THUR 27                  10am-2pm Office, Food Pantry, Thrift Shop;                                 
                                                                                                                                
FRI 28                       7:30am "Good Morning" AA meeting;                                                       
                       
SAT  29                      3pm NA Meeting "Journey to Recovery" 
                                  5pm PH Private Event;                                                          
                                                                                                                                                                             
SUN 30                     8am Rite I;
                                  8:45am Lesson's Discussion;
                                  9:30am Choir Practice;
                                 10am Sunday School;
                                 10am Rite II- Time & Talent Pledges DUE
                                 11:15am Coffee Hour;                           

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