St. Paul's Episcopal Church   Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

"Making friends while serving God"

The Week of January 6-12, 2020

What Child is This?

What Child is This?
Epiphany has a number of definitions, and this gives texture to our understanding of an unusual word. The root of the word is the Greek epiphanein meaning 'reveal." The first dictionary entry as a definition is "...the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:2-12). The dictionary even got the scripture right: this is our reading this Sunday.
Three other definitions provided by the dictionary are:
     - the festival commemorating the Epiphany on Jan. 6;
This week's readings.
     - a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being; and
     - a moment of sudden revelation or insight.
All of these definitions apply to our Gospel reading and our yearly commemoration of the Epiphany event. But the key to all this is the revealing of Jesus as the Messiah, obviously something about which the Three Wise Men (or kings or Magi) were quite clear. They showed up at the stable where Jesus and Mary and Joseph were and paid homage and brought gifts. They also departed "by another road" thanks to their knowledge that Herod sought to take Jesus' life. That evidences even further their confirmation of the Christ Child's divinity.
How do we approach Epiphany? As our Sunday School children bring the three kings to the crèche at the front of the church this Sunday, do we marvel at the story, the faith it evokes and which has sustained people for two millennia? Do we commend the mortals involved (the kings, the shepherds, Mary and Joseph) for their brave delivery of Jesus, both literally in birth, but also delivery from the environmental and political forces working against them? Do we give special thanks for the miracle of Jesus survival? And do we ask, "How we can protect and defend others who are refugees and asylum seekers, migrants and, in truth, our neighbors?"
To be redirected to the Lectionary Page and get a digital copy of the readings 
Matthew 2:1-12 

The Building and Grounds committee is planning on a major project to spruce up the basement from the Scout Hall all the way to the dishwasher room. However, we cannot do it without the help of the congregation.  
We will need help with:
  • Painting
  • Floor improvement
  • Removing obsolete electrical equipment
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Cleaning of the Electrical room.
There will be a meeting to discuss this project on Wednesday, January 15th at 6:30 in the parlor.  We hope to see YOU!     --Maria Bell, Buildings and Grounds Chair
From 10 AM to 4 PM on Saturday, December 21, volunteers greeted Food Pantry clients with Christmas cards containing a $25 gift card to use for buying food for their holiday meal at Price Chopper grocery store. More than 125 clients had signed up to receive a card, and many stayed for a glass of punch and a cookie. Extra tables were set up with free items for the clients to take home including Christmas decorations, toys, toiletries, cook books, and sheet sets. The gift cards were paid for with a grant from United Way's Holiday Helping Hand program, donations from Parish Aid, Veith Electric, and several individuals, and a special collection from the congregation. Note: These gift cards, which were ordered from Price Chopper, are special in that they cannot be used to purchase alcohol or tobacco.
Now as the New Year begins, the Pantry continues offering non-perishable basic nutrition to neighbors in need on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10 AM to 2 PM. Did you know that our Pantry is open for longer hours than any other pantry in the city except for the Family Partnership Center? Please bring a donation each Sunday to add to the basket in the narthex. Especially welcome this time of year are canned stews, soups, pork and beans, chili, and corned beef hash.  


The annual observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a special time of the year when all Christians, Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox, from every corner of the world have the opportunity to join together in prayer for the unity that Jesus wants for all those who believe in his name. 
The host for the event, St. Martin de Porres Church, invites Christians to come together on Sunday, January 26, at 3:00 pm, at 118 Cedar Valley Rd., Poughkeepsie. We will be worshiping with neighboring Christian communities, as we celebrate our desire for the unity that can overcome all historical differences and root itself in our common belief in Jesus. 
Rev. Jeffrey Koenig, pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church, will be the homilist. Refreshments and conversation will follow the one hour long service. All are invited!
Dreams of justice and peace  
SERMON: 2 Christmas A 1 5 20
Jer31:7-14;Ps84:1-8;Ephe1:3-6,15-19a; Mat2:13 -15,19 -23
We take special delight in the appearance of angels in the dreams of Joseph. This is a little different from the appearance of actual, visible angels in Mary's life or for the shepherds and others. This is the dream world. Joseph is sleeping and he receives dramatic encouragement from angels in his dreams.
We need to consider our angels. We need to pray for their inspiration. We need to imagine what that might be. And all of this because there are things going on inside and outside of us that tempt us to be fearful, unloving, skeptical, unchristian. Angels aren't just inhabitants of dreams, of course. We recognize that angels appear in the person of friends and, for that matter, strangers, people helping, showing others what to do, living their lives virtuously.
When we consider our dreams we realize they can present us with images of good things or bad. As enlightened 21st century citizens we recognize dreams as an expression of our subconscious, the collection of stimuli and motivations of which we might not be fully aware. Or--if we are--we recognize as the things that drive us. Many who have engaged in dream therapy, trying to figure out what motivates them and moves them, have learned much about themselves and responded to good effect.
Sometimes a dream might present an image that brings discomfort. It might involve something the sleeping person finds uncomfortable, unappealing or worse. There could be violence, there might be pain. A person who was engaged in dream therapy or analysis would try to figure out the meaning of these unsettling images, to resolve such images in their conscious mind. Perhaps they would become aware of changes they needed to make in their life.
It is much more pleasurable to consider dreams which bring a person happiness or delight.
But often the characters in a dream are unrecognizable to the dreamer. The dreamer usually plays a part of the dream, but it usually seems to take place in the vision of the dreamer.
The first time the angel appeared Joseph was told to accept Mary as his bride because she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit, not some other man, and that her child would be the Messiah, and Joseph should name him Jesus.
We can't tell just what aspect of Joseph's personality or subconscious presented him with that instruction in a dream. We know Joseph to be older than Mary, humble, and kind because we know he was troubled by the social expectation that he would reject her and she would be humiliated. Even before the dream he intended to handle the matter discreetly rather than bring shame on Mary.
But after the first dream Joseph did something quite countercultural: he accepted her as his wife. Was it his generosity of spirit that led to that response to the dream? Was it a belief that the angel in the dream was real, or represented a message from God? After all, that is how dreams were interpreted in those days.
Perhaps most of all, does it matter? Do we care, really, if he was motivated by generosity, or love, or religious fervor? No, not really. Because we can't know, partly, and because each explanation has its own delightful features. That Joseph could arrive at such a decision is as much about him and the kind of person he was as it is about the angelic forces he perceived in his dream.
When we encounter Joseph after his second dream --at least as far as we know--we pay close attention. In this Sunday's Gospel Joseph is hearing from an angel again. He is experiencing a frightening suggestion: that the emperor, Herod, is so troubled and fearful of the potential challenge to his rule by the Messiah that he wants to do away with the infant Jesus.
Having been through all that he has in the previous few days it is not surprising that Joseph's dream would be one of warning. After all, the reason that Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem was due to the census the emperor was demanding everyone participate in. This in itself was a huge inconvenience, not least because of the season and the difficulties of travel. But consider also covering a few hundred miles with a pregnant wife on a donkey when the wife is ready to give birth.
The angel in his dream warned Joseph and he and Mary and Jesus hastily left their stable and went to Egypt until Herod had died. Then he received another angelic visit in a dream telling him to return to Israel, but fearing the new ruler, Joseph and his family settled in Nazareth.
It would appear that the angels in Joseph's dreams gave him really good advice. That leads us to presume that Joseph was a person endowed not with an active subconscious, but also that he was an inherently good person who was committed to the safety of his family as they moved around for the census, then to avoid Herod, then to avoid Herod's son.
Now we are not unaccustomed to cruelty and brutality in the Bible. It appears so often in history--and so in the Bible--that we have to wonder what is wrong with people. We cannot conceive a reason for Herod to be afraid of an infant except that the prospect of the Messiah appearing during his reign frightened Herod. He was afraid his cruel regime would be toppled by the coming of the Messiah, so he made life as difficult as he could for Joseph and Mary and Jesus. It is conceivable that Herod dreamed of his rule being overthrown by the Messiah, even the infant Messiah.
Effectively Joseph's family became migrants and refugees, for that matter. They were forced to move and flee and relocate on the whim of the government. They were persecuted and they were threatened. It is a miracle they survived and Jesus grew to adulthood. Our response to this kind of exodus story is predictable: we ponder how it is that people could be so blind as to cause or tolerate such ugly and brutal treatment of people, especially the innocent and defenseless children.
These kinds of terrible things happen and these kinds of terrible things are done to people for a variety of reasons based on excuses and rationalization. Herod did it to protect his control over the people. His son did the same. They did terrible things which they justified with Machiavellian philosophy: the end justifies the means. Of course they did this centuries before Machiavelli lived.
But we do know the difference between right and wrong and we know when excuses--even false excuses --are used to justify immoral acts.
Just as Herod let his demons and his fears persecute the people of his realm 2000 years ago, causing suffering and dislocation and fear, so does our government today cause irreparable damage to desperate immigrants seeking safety, peace and freedom in the US. Our border debacle is based on the xenophobic and vitriolic claims of a man whose campaign announcement asserted that immigrants crossing our borders were murderers, rapists and "bad guys." Without an ounce of charity or factual basis, a border wall has been demanded and families have been separated, leaving children in detention camps without their parents or other relatives and parents frantic to be reunited with their kids. This haphazard horror has continued to this day because our government leadership lacks moral bearings. It appears our sense of charity toward our neighbor has been forgotten, our willingness to help others who are in trouble set aside and our values redefined so we treat our neighbor as a criminal. This is a crime in spirit in itself.
When we pray for our leaders during the prayers of the people we name them and their offices and we pray that there may be justice and peace on the earth. This means we need to oppose the demonizing of immigrants. We need to help those fleeing terrorism and violence. We need to stand up for the truth and resist the lies used to justify the inhumane treatment of immigrants at the border.
We need also to demand stronger laws and actions on hate crimes. The recent surge of anti-Semitic attacks and killings remind us of just how much violence and hatred have festered and then grown in our society without adequate law enforcement budgets or intentions to locate and quell the growth of hate groups in America.
As we spiral toward ever deeper hostilities with Iran and invite retribution from powerful adversaries we need also to call on our better angels and resist the temptation to solve problems by force. Violence only begets more violence; it is rarely a solution. To empower ourselves we need to consult our own angels, whether the angels of our dreams or simply the better angels in our midst. We are better, as a country, than our government makes us appear.
Our dream as a nation has been of one that welcomes immigrants, fosters families and children, treats the "other" kindly, and loves its neighbor as itself. This is not how we appear to the world at this time. Our dreams both personal and national need to be realized like Joseph's dreams were realized. He took the actions which his better angels inspired and did not fall victim to fear and suspicion. We can do likewise.
Pray for our country and pray for its soul. Pray for the families left divided at our border and denied decent treatment. Pray for those targeted in hate crimes and pray for those so deluded as to think violence is a solution to their fears. Pray for peace and for leadership which can confront these horrors and correct it. Let us dream dreams of a better world, one not simply delivered to us but one we work for, a world where nations help nations, where brutality is not justified by expediency, where faith, not fear, determines our common goals.                                                                                          Amen
A sermon preached on the second Sunday after Christmas, Jan. 5, 2020,
at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Poughkeepsie NY, by The Rev. Tyler Jones, Rector.
1 Mavis Rivera      Lilian G. Thomas
15 John Jerome Mazzuto
2 Bill Rhode  8  Abraham Joseph Foley 21 Donna Hudak 
3 Linda Santos 11 Francis McKenzie 23 Carola Madrid
   Jeffrey Francis 12 John H Filor 25 Agnes Scarlett
6 Rita Marks 13 Rena Mazzuto
7 Jacinto Xavier Santos-
14 Edna Clarke

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St. Paul's Episcopal Church-Poughkeepsie

'In Service to God & You'
Lectors:          Rose Marie Proctor
                       Cora Keith       

Litanist:           Pete Bedrossian

Server:            Maria Bell

Organist:         Maris Kristapsons
Acolytes:         Shawn Prater-Lee
Lectors:           Jeanne Henderson
                        Rose Marie Proctor
Litanist:           Mark Debald
Altar Guild:      Rose Marie Proctor

1982     127     Earth has many a noble city (Stuttgart) 
1982     119     As with gladness men of old (Dix)
1982     122     We three kings of Orient are (Three Kings of Orient) [CHILDREN'S  
1982     124     What star is this, with beams so bright (Puer nobis)
1982     117     Brightest and best of the sons of the morning (Morning Star)
HYMN COMMENTARY: The Epiphany hymn What Star is This With Beams so Bright is based on a Latin hymn written om 1736 by French theologian Charles Coffin in 1736, a Latin scholar who wrote over 100 hymn texts in that language. One hundred years later, it was translated into English by English cleric John Chandler, who is noted for the excellence of his numerous hymn translations. The words are almost always sung to the tune "Puer nobis nascitur," by German Lutheran composer Michael Praetorius (1571-1621), whose sacred music output consists of over one thousand titles. However, he is best known for his landmark 1612 collection of over 300 instrumental dances, titled "Terpsichore."

January 6-12, 2020

MON      6
  7:30am    AA Meeting
  5:00pm    Stewardship
  6:00pm    Evening Prayer
  6:30pm    NA Meeting - Journey to Recovery

TUE       7
  10:00am   Food Pantry &Thrift Shop
   6:00pm   Evening Prayer; Spiritual Life

WED      8
  7:30am    AA Meeting
10:00am    Food Pantry &Thrift Shop
12:15pm    Healing service & eucharist

THU       9
10:00am    Office, Food Pantry, Thrift Shop

FRI      10
  7:30am    AA Meeting
  6:30pm    NA Meeting 

SAT     11
  3:00pm    NA Meeting - Men Do Recover 

SUN    12
  8:00am    Rite I
  8:45am    Lessons' Discussion
  9:30am    Choir practice
10:00am    RITE II; Sunday School 
11:15am    Coffee Hour
11:30am    Youth


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