St. Paul's Episcopal Church   Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

"Making friends while serving God"

The Week of March 2-8, 2020
The art of unlearning    

Being open to new ideas is an acquired skill. Some embrace the notion easily;others fight against it mightily. It can be difficult to set aside old ideas to consider new ones. Jesus ran into this problem with people again an d again.
Nicodemus came to Jesus in secret, unwilling to be openly interested in what Jesus was teaching. Jesus put it to Nicodemus this way: "If I have told you about earthly things and you do not  believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?"
The quotation above from Star Wars' Yoda says much the same thing: we have to unlearn some things to learn new things. Now a quick Google check on the biography of Yoda tells us that he was 900 years old when he died in the first Star Wars movie. And since the Star Wars movies are all set in the future, it becomes clear that he did not have a direct influence on this Sunday's Gospel, in which Nicodemus poses many serious questions to Jesus. However, the quotation attributed to Yoda in the graphic suggests that he teaches a lesson Jesus is trying to convey to the sincere but stuck Nicodemus. 
This Week's Reading 
Nicodemus is interested in learning from Jesus but he is unable in Sunday's Gospel to separate the practical--about which he knows quite a bit--from the spiritual lessons Jesus is offering. He gets hung up on bring "born from above," from being "reborn," pondering whether one must subject their mother to giving birth to them again.
Perhaps Nicodemus is helping us by exhibiting such resistance. His mental inflexibility makes it easier for us to consider the actual spiritual alternatives Jesus is proffering.

To be redirected to the Lectionary Page and get a digital copy of the readings 
Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 121; Romans 4:1-5, 13 -17; John 3:1-17    

Chili still for sale
The February 22 Chili and Cornbread Take-Out was a tasty success, with over $500 raised and many parishioners and friends of St. Paul's provided with a tasty meal.
Chili is still for sale for those who would like to try some, or try some more, of the Champion Chili Chefs' great chili.
Food Pantry Wintertime Supplies

At this time of year, our clients especially appreciate filling foods such as oatmeal (instant) for breakfast, soup for lunch, and hearty meals for dinner such as spaghetti and tomato sauce, beef stew, and corned beef hash. You can help! Every Sunday there is a large basket in the narthax waiting to be filled with nourishing nonperishable food. Please bring a little something each week.

SERMON: 1 Lent A 3 1 2020
A couple of weeks ago Molly and I spent a night in New York City. We went to see a play which had been recommended by a friend, a play produced by a Christian dramatic group. It was off-Broadway, way west on 42nd street. We'd been to the theater before; it's in a building with a cluster of theaters of small to medium size. They attract plays out of the mainstream, often by unknown writers. As you can imagine a play by a Christian drama troupe might be.
The play we saw was "Paradise Lost," a dramatization of John Milton's famous epic poem of the same name, written in the seventeenth century. In a question and answer period after the performance the director told us that it would have taken 11 hours for the cast just to read the entire book aloud; they'd trimmed it so the play was only 100 minutes. It was stunning from beginning to end. It involved the scene in the Garden of Eden which was our Hebrew Bible reading from Genesis this morning.
The play opened with an unbelievable noise, loud enough to make us wonder if something was wrong, if more than the play was happening just then. But when the lights came up, we were staring at hell, complete with fiery glowing rocks and steam emanating from them. It was shadowy, creepy and scary.
Satan was on the stage, as was his sidekick Beelzebub. They were agonizing on their being thrown out of heaven, along with four hundred hundred million other fallen souls. Satan decided he would go to earth to foment unrest and aggravate God, at least, and possibly stage an uprising sufficient to gain control over heaven.
The lights dimmed and we were in the Garden of Eden. Eve entered from the wings and was lovely, smart, curious and, basically, perfect. She is figuring out things as though she had just been created. She encounters animals and birds and yearns to fly. She is wowed by creation. She represents the beginning and so she represents also, today, Andrea and Leanna, two girls being welcomed into the church in the Sacrament of Baptism. They are pure, innocent, delightful and, yes, curious. We want to give them every change to grow and thrive and to delight in the world that God has made for us. On this first Sunday in Lent we explore the perils of temptation as if it is something new, which it is for these two youngsters. But not for us. We just haven't quite figured out how --or we just haven't managed--to avoid temptation.
Back to the Garden: Adam shows up and tells her how she was formed from his rib. They are delighted to meet each other and eventually Adam relates God's prohibition concerning eating of the fruit on the tree of good and evil. Later, as you already know, Eve's curiosity leads her to taste the forbidden fruit, with a lot of urging from Satan who has made it to earth and the Garden of Eden--wearing a snake skin jacket, no less. You know what happens then. We read it in Genesis just now. Adam and Eve were ashamed. Adam is shocked Eve would disobey God's order.
But even though Satan's temptation of Eve is literally the oldest story ever and her disobedience is undeniable, we sympathize with her. We want to ask, why did God make us this way, curious enough to disobey? Was it a test? Was it God's fault, because after all we were given free will?
I suppose in another age someone might have accused Eve of not being very bright, not bright enough to follow such clear instructions. But in this production she was the smart one in the duo, make no mistake. And her yearnings and intelligence were palpable. We were on her side. We had to wonder, who was tempting her, God or Satan?
When we leapt this morning from the Genesis reading to the Gospel we recognized the power of temptation. It is very familiar in tone. It is the Garden of Eden but in the wilderness, on the pinnacle of the temple, on the mountain.
Now in the play Satan was a tall, impressive middle aged man who could persuade with his words, could raise an army of dispossessed souls. In our Gospel Satan is usually portrayed as kind of a cross between a person, a lizard and a bat. Not a fair comparison.
But Jesus, of course, knew the book of Genesis. He knew the story of Adam and Eve. He knew better. He knew better than to succumb to temptation.
I think the problem arises for us when we confuse our own curiosity with temptation. "I'm not tempted, only curious." Or, "This is really interesting. What could be wrong with trying it out?" Sometimes that kind of logic is really just evasion of the obvious, but there you have it. The common phrase these days, "What could possibly go wrong?" Stated ironically.
And though both Eve and Jesus were tempted greatly, it is often the smaller temptations with which we struggle. The temptation to have another piece of pie, or to spend too much time zoning out with television, or ignoring family and friends for video games or Facebook or other solitary pursuits.
Temptation is not only everywhere it's described in the Bible--the garden, the wilderness, the pinnacle, the mountain. It's also in the car, in the living room, in church, at work. Because temptation is in the things we know are wrong for us, whether they're doing something or not doing something. Being tempted to ignore the need to take out the garbage can result in domestic unpleasantness. The temptation to sleep in can ruin a day for us, making it impossible to meet our obligations, not to mention do other things we'd like to be doing.
This is not as significant as being banned from the Garden of Eden, or as dangerous as leaping from the pinnacle. But the results can be devastating on a more human scale.
Lent is a time to consider ideas like this and explore when it is that we succumbed to temptation.
In the version of the Lord's Prayer that we use we pray, "...and lead us not into temptation." In the other form provided in the Book of Common Prayer we can pray, " us from the time of trial." The older version presumes that God put the temptations in front of us like the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Genesis reading. The more modern version acknowledges that temptations abound, they virtually surround us. We need help.
Both versions of the Lord's Prayer ask God to deliver us from evil. I think that is like the prayer in the Baptismal Covenant, in which we pray, "whenever we fall into sin (we will) repent and return to the Lord." It is actually refreshing to openly acknowledge that we fall short not infrequently.
It helps to be clear. To determine which choices we make that then frustrate us, tempt us, harm our life in various ways. We need to figure out what we can do to avoid repeating them and we need to ask for God's help and guidance.
We ask God to help us. We ask God to help these two newly baptized Children of God. We want God to help us all. And we believe God wants to and will.            
A sermon preached on the First Sunday of Lent, March 1, 2020, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church,
Poughkeepsie NY, by The Rev. Tyler Jones, Rector.
 2 Joedan Minto 18 Shirley Pharr
25 Michael Van Pelt
11 Margaret Robinson 
20 Stacey Rosborough
26 Karen A Reid  
12 Rev. Tyler Jones
21 Linda Aleen DuBois
     Lisl Prater-Lee
29 Danya Clarke
14 Kattyann Goodwin
23 Donald S Ackert  30 Stuart Ballinger
17 Deborah Marie Williams
19 Anita Santos-Bravo
31 Rose Marie Proctor
     Peter Bedrossian 
12 Aaron Bissessar
24 Alice J Leigh

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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:           Aleen Clarke
                        Bobbie Gordon
Litanist:           Mark Debald
Altar Guild:      Norma Williams & Mertlyn Tomlinson

1982             637     How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord (Lyons)
1982             473     Lift High the cross (Crucifer)
1982             685     Rock of ages, cleft for me (Toplady)
1982             563     Go forward, Christian soldier (Lancashire)
HYMN COMMENTARY: Go forward, Christian soldier was written by English clergyman Laurence Tuttiett, and was inspired by Exodus 14:15. First published in 1851, it has since become the most widely used of the author's hymns. The text is most commonly paired with an 1835 tune titled "Lancashire" by English church musician Henry Smart, originally composed for the three hundredth anniversary of the Reformation in England. This melody is also familiar from the hymn "Lead on, O King eternal."

March 2-8, 2020

MON      2
  7:30am    AA Meeting
  5:00pm   Stewardship
  6:00pm    Evening Prayer
  6:30pm   NA Meeting - Journey to Recovery

TUE       3
10:00am   Food Pantry &Thrift Shop
     6:00pm   Evening Prayer; Spiritual Life  

WED      4
  7:30am    AA Meeting
10:00am    Food Pantry &Thrift Shop
12:15pm    Healing service & Eucharist-Imposition of Ashes
  5:30pm    Lenten Supper & Worship

THU       5
10:00am    Office, Food Pantry, Thrift Shop

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

SAT       7
  9:30am    Morning Prayer; Bldg. & Grounds Mtg.
11:00am    Block Cleanup
  1:00pm    NA Meeting 

SUN      8
  8:00am    Rite I
  8:45am    Lessons' Discussions
  9:30am    Choir practice
10:00am    RITE II; Sunday School  
11:15am    Coffee Hour
12:00 pm  Special Vestry meeting in parlor



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