The Week of September 15-20, 2020
"But many who are first will be last, and the last first."
To be redirected to the Lectionary Page and get a digital copy of the readings
A simple counter cultural verse. Counter intuitive verse. Goes against the way we are wired in our flesh to think. We are wired to think, and we live in a world that promotes this kind of thinking. Be first. Get ahead. Work to get ahead. Promote yourself. Do whatever it takes to be out front. Yet Jesus turns that totally on its head and says many who are first will be last and the last first. He's just finished a conversation with a rich young man who had everything this world has to offer. Riches and all that goes with that.
Jesus makes clear that there is coming a major reversal. This man who was unwilling to let go of his possessions to follow Jesus would one day realize that he had missed the entire point. He had lived for what did not matter. He had lived to be first in this world and he would be last in eternity. We see this all over the Bible, that the way this world works will one day be turned on its head and so we find exhortations all throughout scripture, don't be deceived. Don't buy into the ways of this world. Live differently. Lay down your possessions. Lay down your life. Lay down your pride. Lay down the pursuits of this world and live differently. Live with humility. Give away possessions. Don't live for your advancement. Live for the glory of God. Don't live to promote yourself. Live to promote Jesus
Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16
The Sunday sermon
Some people can forgive the Nazis for the atrocities they brought against the Jews during the Second World War, and some cannot. I took some education courses while I was in college. In concert with the courses I had to do field work at a Jewish community center. I will never forget the time one of the administrators bought a Volkswagen automobile. Things did not go to well for him. From the very first day he drove that car to work, many of his colleagues elected not to speak to him. Some people can forgive their parents for what they did or didn't do during their childhood, and some cannot; for the most part it is generally because of too many emotional scars. Who can forgive 9/11? Two thousand, seven hundred and fifty-three lives were lost. As Roosevelt said about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, many of us feel that September 11 is also a day that has been recorded in infamy. Offering forgiveness to a person or persons who have hurt us in some significant way, involves shifting into a gear that feels very uncomfortable; consequently; so many of us find it nigh on to impossible to get into that gear. Nonetheless, when Jesus taught the disciples how to pray he was very clear, he taught them to pray that their trespasses be forgiven and that they forgive those who have trespassed against them. I would dare to add one more item to the list, and I hope Jesus won't mind. I think it very important that we also must forgive ourselves for things we have done that have hurt ourselves. Looking back in our histories, there may be events or incidents that we may have participated in for which we have been unable to forgive ourselves. Think about that concept.
I never thought of Jesus Christ as a psychotherapist, but the older I get the more I am beginning to think that he could have given Sigmund Freud a formidable run for his money. In this morning's gospel, Jesus is telling us we must forgive seventy times seven, and forgiving requires unloading a whole lot of psychic energy that has had the job of keeping that hatred alive. It requires unloading energy that could be used in a positive way.
Decades ago, I was acquainted with a woman named Anna whose husband was part of the administrative staff at Greer School. Anna was a Polish Jew who told me the story of how she escaped death during the Second World War. On a memorable day in her life, she was with a large group of Jews being marched to a clearing in a forest and made to dig their own graves. She was twelve at the time and at one point the poor girl needed to go to the bathroom. She told me that she must not have grasped the seriousness of the situation; because she approached one of the guards and asked if she might be able to relieve herself in private. He directed her to go into the woods. And then he whispered something strange to her. "When you are out of sight," he said, "start running as fast as you can and don't stop." So she followed his directive and started running as fast as her twelve year old legs would carry her; and was successful in getting away. Through the years she carried in her heart unrelenting hatred towards the soldier that helped her escape. Now one might have thought that she should have felt grateful towards him. After all he saved her life. But what she could not remove from her mind was the sound of rifle shots as she ran, as her family and friends were being executed. And that soldier participated in the murdering of her loved ones. All through her teens and into early adulthood she was preoccupied with images of her beloved parents and siblings being lined up and killed. It took years of analysis for her to resolve deep inside the anger she felt toward the soldier and the guilt she felt for leaving family and friends to die, a guilt she finally came to experience as not being able to forgive herself for abandoning her loved ones. When she finally got to a place of forgiving herself for leaving, it was as if a huge weight had been lifted from her heart. Several years later she tried to find that soldier to thank him, but her search was not successful.
Guess what, I would like to have gotten into Peter's head after he denied Christ three times. I suspect he and the Holy Spirit had to do a lot of work to get him to a place of forgiving himself for abandoning Christ during his passion. So again I say, forgive not only those who trespass against us, not only our trespasses, but help us Lord to forgive ourselves for those dark events that we harbor deep within our souls.
The parable presented in this morning's gospel with its glorious image of the king's mercy and forgiveness, invites us to imagine life in the Kingdom of God where forgiveness of all kinds flow naturally; and we see ourselves and each other, not in terms of who has wronged whom, but in our realizing that we all fall woefully short of what God calls us to be. We all need to ask forgiveness for our trespasses against others as well as against ourselves, and we must be willing to forgive those who have trespassed against us.
We have to remember when it comes to forgiveness that we are an extension of Christ, his kingdom and his love. Peter learned that quite dramatically. In a post resurrection narrative Jesus asked Peter if he loved him three times. And I can't help but equate the question being asked three times with the three times Peter denied Christ. That exchange taught me that love is a catalyst for forgiveness.
I want to close with something that occurred in my life that I will never forget. Fifty-five years ago, I joined the rest of my class of deacons to go on a weeklong retreat at Holy Cross monastery. It was the retreat just before our ordination to the priesthood. Near the end of the retreat we all made a confession. As I finished my confession, the Fr. Confessor told me he was not going to give me absolution because my sins were too grave. In fact he recommended that I seek an immediate audience with the Bishop and withdraw my request to be ordained. He followed that by suggesting that I seek out as a spiritual director, a priest he recommended in New York City.
I left the monastery and went directly to the suggested spiritual director. We sat in the nave of the church and I shared with him what I shared with the confessor. He looked at me and he loved me, the same way that Christ loved Peter after he had denied him three times. God's love and God's forgiveness work hand in hand. It worked for Peter. It worked for me that day as a huge weight was lifted from my heart. "Yes, I love you Jesus," I said to myself. "Thank you for letting me feed your sheep."
--Fr. C. Allan Ford
LETTER FROM BISHOP DIETSCHE
To the Clergy and Parish leadership of the Diocese of New York,
Today I write to ask for your parish's participation in the special collection for the feeding programs supported by Episcopal Charities, which is scheduled for Sunday, September 20, 2020
. Food insecurity is a dire issue for the working poor and undocumented across our Diocese in normal times. With the widespread unemployment that has impacted so many as a result of the pandemic, this has been further compounded.
Last Thursday you received an email from the staff at Episcopal Charities requesting that you participate in this collection by placing a blurb in your weekly newsletter and bulletin announcing
the collection. And they requested you play a short video appeal from their Board President during the announcements of your virtual service
on September 20th.
Please take action on both of these requests.
If we are to act as our brother's keeper, this is no better way to demonstrate our love for them than through supporting the feeding ministries that are so needed at this time.
The Right Reverend Andrew ML Dietsche
The Bishop of New York
This Sunday there will be a second plate put out in the isle for donations to Episcopal Charities.
SEPTEMBER WORSHIP SCHEDULE
Thanks to all who have attended church these past few weeks whether it was in person at 161 Mansion Street or whether it was on Zoom. As announced several weeks ago we'll have in person worship on the first and third Sundays of the month. Otherwise we'll be on Zoom.
Our schedule for September will be:
In Person Worship this Sunday.
Zoom church on September 27.
Hope to see you in church on Sunday and/or on Zoom.
A NOTE FROM THE TREASURY TEAM
Total deposit for the past week - $330 (no money 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.
We're looking forward to seeing you in person the first and third Sundays of the month when we'll be in church with communion. The other Sundays will be on Zoom. Don't forget to wear your mask!!!
MID-HUDSON REGIONAL COUNCIL
Dear Good People of the Mid-Hudson Region,
Our Mid-Hudson Regional Council, scheduled for Saturday, October 3rd, has been cancelled. We had a very "light" response to the survey that was sent out asking for input about holding the event in a virtual format and possible content if we were to go ahead with it. In light of that, I had conversation with Bishop Dietsche, followed by consultation with the Chair (The Rev. Chuck Kramer) and Vice-Chair (The Rev. Richard Datos-Robyn) of the Mid-Hudson Executive Committee and the decision was made to cancel and revisit the possibility of having the event at a later date. Please advise any in your congregations who may have had the event on their calendars.
In light of this decision, we are left with one task and that is the election of representatives to the Mid-Hudson Executive Committee. There are five slots to be filled for 2021 - two clergy and three lay. Please give this some serious thought and let me know if you or a member of your congregation would be willing to serve. This is not an onerous task and the Committee does important work in the life of the Region. It is a good group and I have always found the meetings enjoyable and productive. Once we have enough names to fill the roster, I will put it out to the Region for a vote via email. Again, please give this serious consideration and let me know if you have any questions.
I hope this message finds you all well and safe in these difficult days.
Valentina K. Stelcen
Executive Assistant to the Bishop
for the Mid-Hudson Region
REGISTER TO VOTE
Are you registered to vote in the 2020 Presidential Election on November 3rd?
If you have recently changed your name or your address, you currently may not be eligible to vote. To check on your current registration, call the Dutchess County Board of Elections (845-486-2473). They are open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday and after Labor Day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They will check on your current registration and, if you are not registered, they will mail you a registration form. You can also get a form online at elections.dutchessny.gov. Or you can call the church at 845-452-8440, and we will get one to you. If you want to vote in the 2020 Presidential Election, you MUST register to vote by October 9th.
First Lutheran and St. Paul's Episcopal Church are cooperating on a joint voter registration project. First of all, we want to be sure that our congregations are registered to vote. We have received a number of forms from the Dutchess County Board of Elections. They are available for you, your family and friends by calling me at 845-454-8440. Second, we will also be registering folks through the thrift shop and food pantry. If you have questions or want to help, please call Shawn at 845-464-2007.
1 Richmond Hodge (Noto)
|14 Clifford Robert Dubois Jr.|
|30 Thomas A. Walker|
||21 Aleen Josephs-Clarke||
7 Rebecca Lynn Brown
|22 Douglas Robinson|
Shamara Wethington Mizell
| 9 Janet woods|
|23 Benjamin Porter|
11 Louise Evans
28 Adrian Joseph Goldson
|12 Marjorie Marks|
|29 Daphne Barett|
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:
Owen, Agnes, Norma; McLauren family; Graham family; Wood family; Braxton family; Lori,
Steven, Elyse, Jim, Seth; Phil; All essential workers; Beryl & Glen, Vincent family; 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, 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; 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
Please "Like" our page to stay up to date with all services and events.
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.
THIS WEEK'S CALENDAR
|TUE 15||10:00am Food Pantry & Thrift Shop|
10:00am Food Pantry & Thrift Shop
10:00am Food Pantry & Thrift Shop
10:00am RITE II - In Church