St. Paul's Episcopal Church   Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

"Making friends while serving God"

The Week of December 23-29, 2019

Children of God--our heritage as Christians

Receiving Jesus   
At Christmas time there is nothing easier than accepting Jesus. Who doesn't love a baby in their midst? Who doesn't marvel at the miracle of every birth? Who doesn't rejoice at the nativity of the Messiah, Emmanuel, "God is with us," Jesus?
This week's readings.
Then there's John's Gospel which tells us, "But to all who received him, who  believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God." This power is one that God intends for us to use to develop our relationship with Jesus, with his teachings and his ways and the connection he gives us with God and with each other by way of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus was destined to live as a human: "And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth." This speaks to God's delight in each of us, in every human. And we are empowered by our faith to live into our potential to fulfill God's delight in us every single day.
To be redirected to the Lectionary Page and get a digital copy of the readings 
Isaiah 61:10-62:3;  Psalm 147; Galatians 3:23-25, 4:4-7; 
John 1:1-18 


Christmas Services 

Christmas Eve services will begin at 4:30 pm with seasonal music and hymns followed by the 
Christmas Eve Communion.

Christmas morning at 10 am a Christmas Communion with hymns will be celebrated.

Please encourage family and friends and neighbors and others you encounter to join us and experience the joy of 
Christmas at St. Paul's.

The change of seasons is upon us once again, and the cooler temperatures of autumn and winter call for soups and stews. Our Food Pantry clients will appreciate going home with beef stew, chicken noodle soup, and vegetable soup, all items on our "menu" of choices. Please contribute generously! Thank you.
The grace of God
SERMON: 4 Advent A 12 22 19
On this final Sunday of Advent we find ourselves still in the state of preparation and expectation for the nativity, the birth of Jesus. It's only three days away--or two and a half if you're coming Christmas Eve Tuesday--and yet--we are still preparing.
The practical preparations for Christmas are not insignificant. But the spiritual preparations are really what this season of Advent is about. It is a season to reflect on this miracle and all the attendant miracles which so enrich our faith and provide us with purpose and, yes, delight.
We are warmed to this prospect, this delightful prospect, by our collect in which we prayed that God might purify our consciences. Consider those words. What would that involve? The short answer is that it would involve God granting us the grace to live our lives with the knowledge of our sins and, having been forgiven, not repeat them or commit others. When we pray concerning God's daily visitation we are supposedly referring to our awareness of God in our lives which we focus upon during our daily prayers. But of course God is with us 24/7; it's not like God gets a vacation or takes a coffee break.
But for our consciences to be purified we have to be at peace with our lives and we have to be doing a better job of living them.
How ready are we for God to do this for us? More to the point, if we want God to forgive us, are we ready to do our part and shape up? Are we ready to deserve a purified conscience?
Ahaz wasn't. In the Hebrew Bible reading God urged Ahaz to ask for a sign that he would prevail over his enemies. Ahaz said he wouldn't put God to the test. Now this is ordinarily a good idea, not putting God to the test. But Isaiah needed to convince Ahaz of the rightness of his cause, that God was on his side. And what sign did Isaiah declare when Ahaz declined? "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel."
Isaiah foretold the coming of Jesus--Immanuel, meaning God is with us. And also the demise of the nations with which Ahaz was about to go to war. This was part of the expectation of the coming of the Messiah.
In our Epistle Paul writes to the Romans a most flowery introduction containing his history in the faith and details of Jesus' holiness and power, concluding the reading with a simple salutation: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is this grace that we are interested in today because it is so overwhelmingly present in our lessons and in our Advent hearts.
It is in our Gospel reading that we catch the glimpse of grace that points us toward a holy Christmas. This grace, which actually does enable the purification of your conscience and mine, was visited upon Joseph in a dream.
We know that Joseph was disturbed when he learned that Mary was with child. He was a kind soul and rather than humiliate her with a public rejection he thought he should end their engagement discreetly.
This was an awful predicament in those days. The importance of lineage was very high. Joseph wanted to be kind but he saw no other way. That is, until the angel laid it out for him in a dream.
The grace that enabled Joseph to accept this version of events from an angel in a dream is the same grace which moves us to accept the same story. And not simply to accept it, but to embrace it in our hearts as a key part of the foundation of our Christian faith.
The point here is it is the grace of God, visited on Joseph, reflected in our belief, which gives this story its holiness. That our God could so transform Joseph's troubled heart and our skeptical minds into accepting angelic dreams and a virgin birth reveals to us how much of the Godly is implanted in our hearts and in our imaginations.
That is how our consciences are purified, also. By suspending our skepticism and seeking God's way, God's will, in all our relationships, in all our encounters, in all our doings.
Ask anyone who has ever raised a child, "not their own," and the lesson is likely aligned with today's Gospel: it is a grace-filled relationship, much as Joseph's relationship with Jesus was for those who choose to interpret it that way. Every child is a child of God and those called to raise children "not their own" can recognize the blessing and the potential for grace to play a part in it.
This matter of grace does require some readiness on our own part. One can't really plan for times when grace will be helpful or fitting. But we can choose to pray in our daily prayers for God to grant us grace. Of course there are occasions where we find ourselves in situations where grace seems to materialize without preparation: a generous response to a hostile question, the perfect solution of a nettlesome problem, and so on.
It all comes from God and, at least to a degree, it depends on our spiritual condition. If we are open to God's grace on a daily basis we will begin to recognize it more readily and to acknowledge it when we witness it. This provides others with a glimpse of grace which they might have missed.
There's a lot of generosity in grace and in our readiness for it. There's no such thing as cranky grace or selfish grace, I'm pretty sure. But when we consider all that God has done and is doing in our lives, when we reflect on the season of Advent and the coming of Christ, it is not surprising that our hearts are full of hope and faith and all the spiritual things we would wish for for ourselves and others.
As Paul wrote to the Romans, Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Advent blessings abound! Alleluia!
A sermon preached on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Dec. 22, 2019, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church,
Poughkeepsie NY by The Rev. Tyler Jones, Rector
3 Andre Clarke                 8 Brendan Foley       15 Jasmin Bryant                   26 Maria Bell                  
6 Jeremiah Jordon            9 Lillian Goldson      17 Felicia Santos Patterson  29 Imina Sade Santos- 
7 Casey Lynn Parisella   10 Lisa Koen              20 Ruby Smith                                 Thompson
   Jeanne Henderson       11 Marian Perkins      23 Carol Anderson                 30 George Thomas
Bruce Petito

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St. Paul's Episcopal Church-Poughkeepsie

'In Service to God & You'
Lectors:          Rose Marie Proctor
                       Adrian Goldson       

Litanist:           Pete Bedrossian

Server:            Maria Bell

Organist:         Maris Kristapsons
Acolytes:         Shawn Prater-Lee
Lectors:           Molly Jones
                        Shawn Prater-Lee                
Litanist:           Mark Debald
Altar Guild:      Hyacinth Curtis & Daphne (Alice)

1982         102     Once in royal David's city (Irby)
1982         107     Good Christian friends, rejoice (In dulci jublio)
1982         101     Away in  manger (Cradle Song)
1982         105     God rest you merry, gentlemen (God rest You Merry)
THE SERVICE OF LESSONS AND CAROLS: Originally written as a poem by Cecil Frances Alexander, Once in royal David's city was first published in 1848. The following year, English organist Henry John Gauntlett discovered it and set it to music as a hymn. Originally inspired by a phrase from the Apostles' Creed, "He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary," each stanza contrasts Jesus' divinity and humanity. The first stanza contrasts the grandeur of "royal David's city" with the lowliness of a cattle-shed. The second, the glory of heaven with the poverty of earth. The concluding stanza reminds us that Christ has ascended once again to glory, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:3). For the past one hundred years, King's College Chapel, Cambridge, has begun its Christmas Eve service every year with this hymn. 

December 23-29, 2019

MON    23
  7:30am    AA Meeting
  6:30pm    NA Meeting - Journey to Recovery

TUE     24
  4:30pm    Christmas Eve Concert & Service

WED    25
10:00am    Christmas Day Service

THU     26
10:00am    Office, Food Pantry, Thrift Shop

FRI      27
  7:30am    AA Meeting
  6:30pm    NA Meeting 

SAT     28
  3:00pm    NA Meeting - Men Do Recover  

SUN    29
  8:00am    Rite I
  8:45am    Lessons' Discussion
  9:30am    Choir practice
10:00am    RITE II, Sunday School 
11:15am    Coffee Hour


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