St. Paul's Episcopal Church Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

"Making friends while serving God"

The Week of November 3-9, 2020

I was stuck coming up with a mediation for this week's reading and therefore have relented to copying from Carla Works.  She is a professor at Wesley Theological Seminary.  Enjoy.
Associate Professor in New Testament 
Wesley Theological Seminary 
Washington, D.C.
Nestled in what is sometimes called Jesus' eschatological discourse (Matthew 24:1-25:46), the parable of the bridesmaids follows Jesus' warnings about the end when many will fall away from the faith and the faithful will be hated by the world (24:9-13).
This week's readings

The parable teaches all would-be followers of Jesus the importance of vigilance in an uncertain time and illustrates how one is able to "endure to the end" (24:13).

The entire section of eschatological teaching is addressed to the disciples in private as they sit with Jesus on the Mount of Olives (24:3). This setting is not insignificant. In Zechariah 14:1-21, the prophet looks forward to a day when the LORD will stand on the Mount of Olives and be recognized as king over all the earth (14:9, 16-17). The coming of this day is certain, as this parable illustrates with the coming of the bridegroom.

The teaching of the wise and foolish maids builds on the previous teaching of the wise and foolish servants. Both parables illustrate the need to live in a manner that expects the return of the Lord, even when the return is delayed (24:48; 25:5).

The parable opens with a familiar phrase, "The kingdom of heaven will be like this." The kingdom is like the whole scene portrayed by this parable where some bridesmaids are prepared for the groom and enjoy the banquet and others are excluded by their own lack of preparation.

The banquet itself is symbolic imagery of the eschatological messianic banquet. The importance of a typical wedding banquet, however, would not have been lost on the first-century recipients. Wedding festivities typically lasted seven days, and the processions of the bride and groom marked the beginning of the joyous event.

In this story, it is expected that the bridesmaids would await the arrival of the bridegroom and greet him with a procession of light in the darkness. Presumably the bridesmaids are waiting either at the brides' home for the groom to come and fetch her or at the home of the groom's family where the wedding would take place. All the maids have either lamps or perhaps large torches. All are waiting with their lamps lit in eager expectation of the groom's appearance.

The bridegroom is delayed. In reality, a groom's delay was not altogether uncommon.1  For instance, there could be last minute negotiations between the groom and the bride's relatives over the gifts exchanged. The text does not bother to explain the delay. Indeed, the reason for the delay is not the bridesmaids' concern. They should have anticipated that a delay might occur. In its literary setting, the delay echoes the previous parable of the two servants (24:48), anticipates the parable of the talents (25:19), and illustrates Jesus' warning in 24:14: "Therefore, you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour."

Due to the delay of the groom and the late hour, all the bridesmaids have fallen asleep.  Their sleepiness is not the problem, since both wise and foolish alike have become drowsy. The wise brought extra oil for their lamps (verses 2-4). Both groups knew that the groom was coming and waited with their lamps burning, but only half considered that the wait in the darkness might be longer than anticipated.

When all the maids were awakened at the announcement of the groom's arrival, they all set about trimming and preparing their lamps for the procession. To the horror of the foolish, though, they discovered that they would not have enough oil to keep their lamps burning. The wise maidens refused to lend their extra oil. If they gave away their oil, they would not have enough. Then what would become of the processional?

For modern ears, the wise maids' suggestion to go to the dealers to buy more oil may seem ridiculous. The text says that it is midnight (verse 6). Where will the foolish maids buy oil in the middle of the night? This detail is unimportant, however, because apparently the maids do find a place to buy oil (verse 10).

When the foolish were away making arrangements that should have been made already, the groom arrived. The procession occurred without the foolish bridesmaids, and the banquet began.

The foolish returned, ready for the processional. They knocked on the door of the house, but their entrance to the wedding banquet was denied by the groom. They missed the grand procession.

Although these bridesmaids were chosen to accompany the bride and groom, their role as bridesmaids did not guarantee them a place at the banquet. They had initially played the part of wedding attendants. They had waited with lamps lit, for a while, but they did not plan for the long dark time of waiting. As a result, they were shut out of the banquet. The maids' plea (25:11) recalls Jesus' warning that not everyone who cries "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven (7:21-23).

The parable is summed up in verse 13. The imperative often translated as "keep awake" might best be rendered, "be vigilant." In this parable, the bridegroom's arrival was certain. The uncertainty of the timing illustrates the need for constant vigilance.

The earliest readers of this Gospel have already entered the dark days after the crucifixion and resurrection and have begun waiting for Christ's return. This parable challenges them to be vigilant and live in anticipation of the Lord's coming.

Readers today may find themselves secretly sympathetic to the foolish maidens. Does the church really live as though the bridegroom's arrival is certain? Some have become caught up in trying to determine the day and the hour, while others have let their lamps run out. To live in vigilance means for the disciples to do the tasks that they have been appointed to do in preparation for the Master's coming. In Matthew's Gospel, those tasks include bearing witness to God's kingdom by welcoming the stranger, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and imprisoned (25:31-46), and making disciples in all the world (28:19-20).  
 --Shawn Prater-Lee
To be redirected to the Lectionary Page and get a digital copy of the readings  
Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25; Psalm 78:1-7; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13                
The Sunday sermon
Matthew 5:1-12

Some years back there was an excellent book on the best sellers' list called "Tuesdays With Morrie." The book described the weekly conversations that took place between Mitch, a successful young sports writer, and Morrie, Mitch's former college professor, dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. Despite its depressing theme, this is a very cheerful book. Toward the end of the book, as his body began to completely break down, Morrie says these words:   
               "...Well, I think that day is coming. That one bothers me. "Why?"
               asks Mitch. Because it is the ultimate sign of dependency. Some-
               one wiping your bottom. But I'm working on it. I'm trying to enjoy
               the process. "Enjoy it?" asks Mitch. Yes. After all, I get to be a
               baby one more time..."
Our culture is obsessed with happiness. Our constitution guarantees it, and each of us spends a great deal of effort trying to find it. What Morrie discovered in the process of his dying is that happiness has very little to do with material things. Happiness is not a trip to Saks Fifth Avenue. Happiness is not, to this preacher's dismay, owning a 1986 forest green Jaguar with a tan leather interior. What Morrie discovered is that happiness is an attitude; it is a way of looking at life through lenses that are permanently tinged with joy.
And joy is a particularly spiritual concept. It can't be captured in dynamic advertisements or in exciting adventures. No, joy is a deep-seated sense of wellbeing that overflows within us even when the world seems empty.
In college I had a good friend named Joy. She was one of those persons who, in those days, didn't get many dates. She was physically awkward and very uncomfortable socially. But Joy was always serene, centered, trusting and connected to a spirit and to a world bigger than herself. When you were in her presence you felt safe. Even today, many decades later, she continues to radiate that serenity, having retired from a successful career as an elementary school teacher in the borough of Queens. Also, she has been joyfully married to the same man for 54 years. Now, you have to understand that she is neither famous nor wealthy, but the children who have had her as a teacher have been made wealthy through the gifts she brought to the classroom and through her joyous attitude which, by the way, happens to match her name.
And it was with that kind of joy that Morrie lived his last days. At another point in the book, Mitch started talking about how horrible Morrie's disease must be. But the old man disagreed:   
             "It's horrible to watch my body slowly wilt away, he said. But it's also
             wonderful because of all the time, all of the opportunities I have          
             to say good-bye to those I love. He added, "Not everyone is so lucky."                     

Yes, Morrie used the word "lucky." But Jesus, in this morning's gospel uses the word "blessed." To be happy is to be blessed. It is, again, to be able to look at life through lenses permanently tinged with joy, through lenses that enable you to feel and to know God's grace. This joy, this blessedness, which Jesus proclaimed in the beatitudes, cannot be grasped or achieved or created. It does not respond to ambition or pride or self-sufficiency. This blessedness is hard pressed to find its way into our individual lives if we maintain a negative demeanor, if we are always disgruntled. This fullness of joy is an ultimate gift from God. And we can only come to know it through an open and yearning heart.
Looking at this morning's gospel, many Biblical scholars believe that the Sermon on the Mount, as it is often called, can be seen as the Ten Commandments of the New Testament. You see, just as Moses went to the mountain top to get the Ten Commandments in which God described the conduct expected of the Hebrew people, Jesus went to the top of the mount to inform the children of God through the beatitudes of just how blessed, how filled with God's grace they already were.
The beatitudes are not about doing this or not doing that. Quite the contrary, the Sermon on the Mount assures us of the abundant life that God has already given us. But wait a minute; probably most of us may have a problem identifying with the neediness expressed in the beatitudes. After all, who wants to be poor, meek or persecuted? Let me tell you something my friends, it may be possible that we may be just as needy as those frightened, persecuted people who gathered at that famous mount near the Sea of Galilee to listen to Jesus deliver the Sermon on the Mount.
A young assistant priest in charge of the youth ministry in a very affluent parish in the Deep South took his teen group to Appalachia. The teenagers in his parish were so insular in their thinking that they thought all teenagers received cars for their 16th birthday and went on cruises to the Bahamas for their senior class party. He felt they needed an important education.
Of course, their eyes were opened by tar paper shacks, barefoot children, strange foods, and people whose grammar would make their English teacher cringe. During the week the visiting teens got especially close to one of the Appalachian adolescents. During the closing worship service with tears running down their cheeks, the visitors prayed for their special friend and for, in their language, "the other poor people of Appalachia." That phrase absolutely infuriated their new friend. And immediately after the service he let them know how full his life was. "I have the woods to run around in," he said. "I have parents, grandparents, sisters and brothers that love me. I have a dog I can hunt with and a whole shed full of rabbits that I can play with whenever I feel like it." He let them know that he in no way felt poor. He further let them know that if anyone was lacking, if anyone was impoverished it was them in their inability to see the abundance that he had.
It seems that Matthew may be right when he suggests that we are poor in spirit. For although we may have money in the bank, we sometimes have a deficit of vision, of love, compassion and tolerance in our hearts. Indeed, he may be right when he suggests that we are meek, not that we are passive wimps, but that we are often victims to a world and culture that successfully overpowers who we really are and we find ourselves embracing unholy behaviors such as bigotry, indifference, and condescension. And of course, we are those who mourn. We grieve all the losses in our lives, the deaths of loved ones, the ends of marriages, the crumbling of our bodies as they age, the dreams deferred, the children who grow up and leave us and the visions of justice and truth that seem more and more unreachable with every passing day.
Yes, we can be needy people. But as we are real within ourselves and with God, as we are honest about the bruises, the brokenness and incompleteness of our lives, God will help us know, will help us experience the joys within us. Because the blessings spoken of by Jesus in this morning's gospel are already ours, right now in the midst of our anxieties, failures and yearnings. We have but to look into the quiet of our hearts to find them. That is God's promise to us, a promised echoed in the words of a celebrated, Jewish theologian named Abraham Heschel: "Just to be is a blessing; to live is holy." Such an understanding of blessings can help us to understand the teenage girl who escaped from Dachau and found refuge in a cave. Though she died alone, starving and emaciated, she scratched on the wall of the cave the following beatified words: "I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining. I believe in love, even when I don't feel it, and I believe in God, even when God is silent."
My friends we are a blessed people. And because we are so filled with God's blessings, they spill out of us, and we can graciously and generously be a blessing to others. It matters not how eloquent we are, nor how shy. What matters is that we reach out, that we extend a hand to that person in need. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. We will be doing the Lord's work; we will be sharing God's beatitudes, God's blessings.
--Fr. C. Allan Ford



Many thanks to all who bought the corned beef last Sunday. The sale brought in $400 which more than covered the cost of the corned beef. Thanks also to Maria Bell, Mark Goodwin, Shawn Prater-Lee and Collen Misner for storing the meat in their freezers for the past 7 months. Thanks also go to Dr. Manley and his "kids" for portioning and wrapping the meat for sale - all done at the CIA.
 Everyone should have received their Welcome Back letter, 2012 Pledge form and 3rd quarter statement by now. All pledges should be returned to church by Nov. 15 when they will be blessed at the altar. If you won't be able to be in church on the 15th, please send your pledge now so it can be included with all of the pledges to be blessed that day. If you need another pledge form, please either call the church or email Bobbie Gordon (
Thanks to all who have attended church these past months whether it was in person at 161 Mansion Street or whether it was on Zoom. We will continue to have in person worship on the first and third Sundays and on Zoom all other Sundays through the end of January.   
We will be in church November 15 and December 6 and 20.
We will be on Zoom the other Sundays.
Our Zoom connections remain the same and are
Meeting ID: 823 3911 5280 
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Dial by your location 
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 Hope to see you in church on Sunday and/or on Zoom.

--Shawn Prater-Lee

--The Rev. Dcn. Julett Butler
Total deposit for the past week - $3942 (including $40 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!!!



logo with pix TD2020b.png  
In a year like no other, Episcopal Charities has responded to the call of our neighbors in need to outreach programs by providing crucial assistance to the most vulnerable among us. We ask you help us in this mission by attending our Virtual Tribute Dinner on Thursday, November 19th, 2020. 
Our Virtual Tribute Dinner will be evening of remarks and performances by friends of Episcopal Charities, during which we'll come together throughout the ten counties of the Diocese of New York -- and beyond! -- to celebrate, give thanks, and reaffirm our commitment to transforming lives. 
We hope you can join us. To buy tickets -- or to make a donation in lieu of attending -- click the link below. 

Tip: Unable to attend? You can still help us respond to the call of those in need. Click the link below to make a gift.
--The Rev. Gloria Payne-Carter 


  1 Mary Ann Oughton 
  6 Judy Lovelace-Donaldson
25 Ron Harris
  5 Melody Ware  
19 Cora Keith  

     Mark Debald 
21 Rhonda Lynn Melius





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:
Rhonda, Lillian, G.J., Paul, Sasha, Matthew, Joe, AletaAnn, all Teachers, Parents, Students,  
Theodore, John, Paul, Kathy, George, Janett, Renate, and Notoe, Stephanie, Aaron; Sharon  
Greene, 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;  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; 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

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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.


November 3-8, 2020

TUE       3
10:00am   Food Pantry & Thrift Shop

WED      4
10:00am   Food Pantry & Thrift Shop

THU       5
10:00am   Food Pantry & Thrift Shop

SAT       7
10:00am   Buildings & Grounds 

SUN       8
10:00am  RITE II - Zoom




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