The Week of May 19-24, 2020
In our collect this Sunday we note that God has exalted Jesus"...to your kingdom in heaven." We then pray that God not leave us comfortless, but send the Holy Spirit. That is commemorated a week later, May 31, on Pentecost. But we are slowly gaining an understanding that the Holy Spirit has been and will be with us forever.
Nonetheless, we ask for the Holy Spirit that it might strengthen us and exalt us, also, to heaven, "...to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before." This sounds like we are leaving all the heavy lifting to God.
The reading from the Acts of the Apostles relates the occurrence of the Ascension which will be commemorated Thursday, May 21.Then our Gospel includes Jesus' prayer on behalf of his followers which was made to God just before Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot and
The requests being made by us in the Collect and for us by Jesus in his prayer in the Gospel suggest that we have a part in our eventual exaltation. If that is truly our intention, we are called to focus on our faith and to never lose sight of the relationships between God, Jesus and us.
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The Sunday sermon
Sermon 6 Easter a 5 17 20
Acts 17: 22-31; Psalm 66:7-18; 1 Peter 3:13-22; John 14: 15-21
Last week in our reading from the Acts of the Apostles Saul was authorizing the stoning of Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian faith. This week he is in Athens speaking as a Christian believer at the Aeropagus. A lot has transpired in between the events described last week and those of this week. How long is not as important as appreciating that the changes that this man experienced involved more than the change of his name from Saul to Paul.
Yes, he went from being known as Saul to being known as Paul. Yes we had a glimpse of his authorization of Stephen's murder and we noted the possibility that his conscience was pricked by Stephen's grace, his equanimity despite his unjust stoning. We even entertained the notion that perhaps at that time Saul's belief system had a seed of Christian faith planted within it.
But the event known as the Conversion of Paul, so beautifully depicted in the stained glass window above the choir loft in church, took place in between these readings. So did a number of other significant moments in Paul's ministry. But here we are in Athens, at the Aeropagus.
The Aeropagus literally means hillside of Athens. It was the gathering place of the City Council and the equivalent of council chambers of the day. It is where the famous (and not so famous) Greek orators would debate important issues. And while Paul was waiting for his group to be ready to continue their Mediterranean voyages to communities of believers throughout the region, he stopped by to explain a few things about Christianity to the Athenians.
He picks a brilliant beginning point. He had seen a sign that said, "To an unknown God." This would be a perfect jumping off topic for someone speaking at the Aeropagus and Paul took full advantage of it. Because what he wanted them to know, and what he wants us to know, is that we do not have an unknown God. Maybe those Athenians he was speaking to did, but we don't.
Specifically Paul was saying to the leaders of Athens that the sign he saw, which was on an altar, suggested their God was elsewhere. Paul said not so with the Christian God. God is here. God is among us. God actually walked among us in the person of Jesus Christ.
We hear and consider these words, these ideas, and we can say, "OK, but that was then, essentially a short time after Jesus literally did walk among them, the Son of God. We're here two thousand years later." But Paul erases those doubts reminding us that we are God's offspring, so we are children of God.
Those are his words: "For we too are his offspring." This mention of common parentage startles people who are engaged in and accustomed to separating themselves from others. This idea of common parentage-family-- has special traction in these days of pandemic and isolation.
The idea that we cannot exclude or abuse those we consider "other" is an old idea with new significance discovered as we realized this year-this past two months, really-that the essential people in our society are the ones society work when others cannot work or don't have to. The essential workers are not hedge fund managers or rocket scientists.
We are gaining a new understanding of the human family, our family, your family and my family, globally and right here at home. We are brothers and sisters, nothing more, nothing less.
How could we not know, how could we not acknowledge, our common Father? Paul goes on to declare to the Athenians that physical images of God should not be made because God is not a physical entity, "...formed by the art and imagination of mortals."
In the verses after today's text it is reported that many scoffed, but so did many become believers before Paul left Athens and traveled to Corinth.
In our Gospel Jesus goes even further in detailing the relationship we have with God. He starts with our relationship with himself, though, stating "those who love me will keep my commandments." The clear impression we get here is that the following of the commandments is the determinant of how much we love Jesus. If we claim to love Jesus and do things contrary to the commandments, well, we're hypocrites.
Then Jesus says he will ask God to send us the Holy Spirit, which we know comes every year on Pentecost, two weeks from today. He calls it the Advocate, Paraclete, "to be with you forever."
Jesus described the Holy Spirit further: "This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you."
This foretelling of the Pentecost experience and the assurance that the Holy Spirit abides in us is one of the key animating assurances of the Christian faith. That is because we experience the Holy Spirit at times in our lives when we expect it, of course, like at church or in prayer. And like when we are among friends and when we are doing God's work with others. But we also get glimpses of the Holy Spirit when the appropriate accomplices are missing. Sometimes we find ourselves moved to acts of goodness that surprise us. Sometimes we want to to help people we do not like very much. Sometimes we just outperform our own best expectations for ourselves. Sometimes we are awed by the generosity of strangers toward us and toward others. The Holy Spirit guides us at times when we loosen our own control, sometimes even when we are trying hardest to maintain control.
The conclusion of Jesus' monologue is a poetic promise of a life in faith. He says, "I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live."
This is a promise of a life in the spirit, where we live into spiritual wholeness, carrying out Jesus' plea that we love God and love our neighbor.
The knowledge that we are actually in that life comes when we can hear and believe Jesus when he says, "I am in the Father, and you in me, and I in you." This is of course the realization we ordinarily celebrate on Sundays in the Holy Eucharist. It fulfills what Jesus promised in the conclusion of today's Gospel: "(T)hose who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them."
Jesus is revealed to us not only in the breaking of bread, as the travelers discovered in Emmaus. Jesus is revealed to us as we discover and encounter Christian behavior in ourselves and in others. It is in the sacramental life. That is no surprise. But it is also in all life. We see it all about us, in the first responders and health care workers, in their support staff and the essential workers. We see it in our neighbors, whether they are isolating at home or wearing masks in public, and we see it in our own choices to show concern for ourselves and our neighbors by wearing masks and keeping social distancing. For the time being.
There are signs aplenty that Jesus' message and Paul's from the Aeropagus two thousand years ago apply just as much now as they did two millennia ago. We need to keep watch for those moments and remember them, share them with others and share our faith and not lose hope. Together we have found and can finds ways to live through this pandemic as an act of faith, living fully into our Christian understanding after the pandemic with our entire family in mind.
Thanks be to God. Amen
A sermon preached in a Zoom gathering of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Poughkeepsie NY
on the Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 17, 2020 by The Rev. Tyler Jones, Rector
A NOTE FROM THE TREASURY TEAM
Total deposit for the past week - $1415 ($1010 from 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 pray you are all well and look forward to "seeing" you at Zoom Church.
If you're tired of cooking, we still have Super Chili that we're happy to sell for $10 per quart. You can pick up your order on Mondays from 10-12pm.
2 Barbara Gavin
3 Aiden Curtis
|11 Mary Wethington
15 Joanna Frang
|22 Shiann Tatiana Mayorga Cash
| 7 Carolyn Dewald
||17 Kataleya Anahi Mayorga
||27 Mark Goodwin
||18 Claudette Tucker
|| Ananda Payne-Carter
| Clifford Clarke
||20 George Santos Jr.
||30 Deborah Pitcher
| Christiana Prater-Lee
|| Richlina Angel Hodge
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:
Michelle, Phil, 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; Seth;Lori; 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 our by helping others.
1982 603 When Christ was lifted from the earth (St. Botolph)
1982 343 Shepherd of souls, refresh and bless (St. Agnes)
LEVAS-II 109 What a friend we have in Jesus
The readings for the Seventh Sunday of Easter
O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
The First Lesson A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles 1:6-14
When the apostles had come together, they asked Jesus, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
Psalm 68:1-10, 33-36
1 Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered; *
let those who hate him flee before him.
2 Let them vanish like smoke when the wind drives it away; *
as the wax melts at the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.
3 But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; *
let them also be merry and joyful.
4 Sing to God, sing praises to his Name;
exalt him who rides upon the heavens; *
YAHWEH is his Name, rejoice before him!
5 Father of orphans, defender of widows, *
God in his holy habitation!
6 God gives the solitary a home and brings forth prisoners into freedom; *
but the rebels shall live in dry places.
7 O God, when you went forth before your people, *
when you marched through the wilderness,
8 The earth shook, and the skies poured down rain,
at the presence of God, the God of Sinai, *
at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
9 You sent a gracious rain, O God, upon your inheritance; *
you refreshed the land when it was weary.
10 Your people found their home in it; *
in your goodness, O God, you have made provision for the poor.
33 Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; *
sing praises to the Lord.
34 He rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; *
he sends forth his voice, his mighty voice.
35 Ascribe power to God; *
his majesty is over Israel;
his strength is in the skies.
36 How wonderful is God in his holy places! *
the God of Israel giving strength and power to his people!
Blessed be God!
A reading from the First letter of Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.
The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John 17:1-11
Jesus looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed."
I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one."