Sermon for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost – September 10, 2017Year A

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“Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law … Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”

There seems to be a widening chasm in our world and society that is simply becoming more evident and more insidious each passing day. We have The Law standing on the precipice of one mountain, projecting out its fear of the “other” in retribution and rejection. We have Love standing in the valley, inviting The Law to come and reason with it. The Law stands firm, imperious in its belief that it is right because it is written!

Sadly over history, this has been embraced by some as the WHOLE meaning of the Christian faith. Our purpose is to monitor and police society on its morality instead of being a companion and life bearer of Divine Love. If you have not read the  Nashville Statement produced by 150 evangelical Christian pastors, I encourage you to do so. You will read the meaning of what I am saying this day.

“What’s Love got to do with it” plaintively sang Tina Turner. Jesus says EVERYTHING! Love has EVERYTHING to do in our call to be lawfully loving.

See the entity of The Reverend Paul W. Gennett, Jr.’s Sermon for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost – September 10, 2017Year A.

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Chapter 22, Page 175 – Forward in Faith, September 2017

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“The place God calls you to be is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC by Frederick Buechner

“Then Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you … You are witnesses of these things. “ Luke 24:44, 48

We return to those routines of life after our summer rest. Vacation memories collected and stored for another season. School supplies purchased and children back to early-to-bed-to-early-to-rise school days [children say “aww” to parents … parents say “yay” to everyone]. Our 20,000+ neighbors of the University of Delaware return as does the rhythm of our campus ministry gatherings. We also return to those rhythms of worship in this place. Yet this time will be different in a few ways.

One way is the BIG celebration of our 175 years of ministry and mission to Newark on Sunday, September 24. PLEASE NOTE we will gather for ONE service this day at 9:30 a.m. We will remember our past while looking to our present and future for God’s onward call in this place, in our time, as this people of the Jesus Movement. We will bless and commission ALL ministries and ministers that serve our parish family! We will admit, bless, and pray onward our 2017-2018 Confirmation Class and their leaders, Bob Rys and Teri Quinn Gray. We will worship with a liturgy crafted especially for this day, and we will gather outside to bless our new welcoming signage at the exit of our driveway. We share our deep gratitude for the leadership of the events of our 175th anniversary year – Tom Fairchild, Laura Greene, and Nicole Cebula. We will remember … commit … bless … now and onward, together.

The other way is our coming closer to my taking leave as your companion in ministry and rector these nine years on October 31. As many have heard me say, I believe I have done, with your help and God’s help, the work and ministry I can in this time and chapter of your lives. The S.W.E.E.P.S. ministries are in place for future service. The finances are healthier for the near-term, while the work of a living stewardship is in the hands of the Vestry servant leaders. The property is in better structural condition, and the Grove is YOURS for the future. I have been blessed and am grateful to have completed these things with you and God in this time, in this place.

At the August 19th meeting of the Vestry, I provided a Covenant of Taking Leave from St. Thomas’s. This covenant is simply, in writing, a clear understanding of our life and relationship in the next pages and chapter of St. Thomas’s Parish. Here are the important points for the understanding of all in our parish family:

  • My resignation signifies that all my priestly, pastoral, liturgical, and administrative duties for the parish are completed. As St. Paul writes to his beloved Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
  • This completion is committed to the transition period before the next rector is called. St. Thomas’s needs time and space between rectors to discover who you are now, where God is calling you onward, and what type of leadership gifts are needed onward for mutual ministry.
  • I will not officiate or assist at any liturgical function in the parish [wedding, baptism, burial office] for at least one year. I may wish to attend a function as a member of the congregation only, and then with understanding of the Wardens, Vestry, and current transition minister. I will continue to exercise my priestly ministry at other parishes as invited at some point, but for a season I am looking forward to being a “pew sitter” with Marilyn.
  • The Rector Discretionary Fund will be returned to the Wardens and Treasurer of the parish to be used by appointed lay representatives as needed.
  • The keys to the church facility will be returned, and clearly marked, for use by future priests. I expect I will be the ONLY person in Newark not to have a key to St. Thomas’s!

This covenant simply gives appropriate space for you to move forward to Chapter 23 in this transitioning time, and gives Marilyn and I appropriate space as we take our steps into this next volume of our life and work together. As Frederick Buechner reminds me, the root of our word goodbye emerges from the 13th century Middle English expression when friends take leave from one another – God be with you!

God be with you, dear sisters and brothers of this place, in this time … God be with you!

With gratefulness always, your servant in Christ

Fr. Paul+

 

Youth Confirmation 2017-18

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We are making plans for the 2018 Confirmation Class and invite all youth in 7 – 8th grade (or at least 12 years of age) to join us on a spirit-filled journey centered around worship, learning, service, witness and fellowship. There will be loads of dialogue, laughter and fun, too! Weekly classes are held on Sundays at 9 a.m. from Sep to May, and will include a pilgrimage to The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

Stop by this Sunday, September 10th at 9:15 a.m. in the Great Hall to learn more and register for the 2018 Confirmation Class.

Give us a call or drop a note with any questions.

In Service,

Teri Quinn Gray (tquinngray@verizon.net) and Bob Rys (bobrys05@gmail.com)

Poet’s Corner – JoAnn Balingit

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JoAnn Balingit reading poetry by her favorite poets
Saturday, September 16, 4:00 p.m.

Free-will offering.

JoAnn Balingit grew up in Florida and lives in Delaware where she served as poet laureate from 2008 to 2015. She’s the author of Words for House Story (WordTech, 2013) and was a 2017 VONA/Voices resident in prose, working on a memoir. She coordinates Delaware’s Poetry Out Loud program, and teaches poetry and creative writing at libraries and nonprofit organizations.Her latest poems appear at Poemeleon,TheRumpus, Vallum Magazine and www.poets.org or her web site at joannbalingit.org.

Co-sponsored by St. Thomas’s Parish and the University of Delaware Department of English.

Hurricane Harvey Relief

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Episcopal Relief & Development has set up web donation page to begin the long journey of relief for Houston & the Texas Gulf Coast. More than 90% of donations go to support those in need. Please pray and be generous as you are able. Go to www.episcopalrelief.org.

Come and See at Bible Study!

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St. Thomas’s offers TWO bible study groups to fit most schedules. The Early Risers group meets on Tuesday from 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. in the Parlor – a great way to start you day and make it to work or class at the university in plenty of time! This time of study will resume again on Tuesday, September 5. The Not-As-Early-Risers group meets on Wednesday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Great Hall classroom, and will resume on Wednesday, September 6.

No preparation needed nor seminary training required – just bring yourself, your soul, your interest, your wonderings, your hunger for sharing and knowing YOUR story that is the Bible, and sharing this sacred story of you with others in this journey.

Blessing of the Backpacks

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On Sunday, September 3, Father Paul will be blessing backpacks for all students who bring them to any of our three services as a way to start and continue your school year on the right path. All who desire are welcome to participate, regardless of age or type of “backpack” you bring — briefcases will get blessed too! “The love of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility goes before honor.” Proverbs 15:3

Sermon for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost – August 20, 2017/Year A

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“If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.” These words are spoken by Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, the young woman killed in Charlottesville VA last Saturday. These words framed the prayer service on Wednesday at Bethel AME Church in Wilmington. These words frame the ongoing call to living into our faith as the ones who call Jesus as our Lord.

We continue to allow too much polarizing speech about the others of our country and our world to rule our minds and hearts. Media and political voices dominate the floods of words, words, words, while too many good Christian folk paddle right along these vile streams of thinking and acting. After our remembrance of the Transfiguration and the first atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6, who of good faith would agree with a Christian pastor’s statement that God desires the “nuking of North Korea?” Is this what the God we worship and the Jesus we follow looks like today?

Brian McClaren is Christian pastor, writer, speaker, and advocating voice for the emerging church of open faith dialogue and living together. His book I am currently reading gives pretty clear hint to this faith stance. It is titled Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? I will give you a spoiler alert – it is NOT to separate themselves from the others but to gather in togetherness, one with another, and to move forward into our world.

For me, there are no “the others” when we live and act out of a mature faith. There are no “the others” in the Jesus Movement.

See Sermon for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost – August 20, 2017/Year A in its entirety.

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Children’s Worship begins on September 11

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Hello Church Family,

Our fun summer times are almost at an end and the time for fall preparation has come. I’m excited!

Regular Children’s Worship will begin again on September 11 for children 3 years (potty trained) to 6th grade. Sunday School normally runs from 9:30 to 11:10 a.m. Registration for Sunday School will begin at 9:15 a.m. in the Great Hall on September 10.

Our goal is to have three Sunday School classrooms this year. In order to do this in the best way that we can, we need at least two more teachers. I am praying we can find some new faces to join our children’s ministry team.Teaching involves an average commitment of two Sundays a month and an hour or two of preparation the week you are the lead teacher. We teach in teams of two so you would be lead teacher an average once a month. If you are more comfortable being the helper teacher each time, that is fine too. This ministry is an act of both giving and receiving. The children teach and inspire us as much as we do them. And, the team members are tremendous supports and inspiration to each other. Training for Godly Play and training for Living the Good News for anyone who needs it will be held in late August/early September and as needed. If you feel called to be a part of children’s ministry in any way, please contact me. I can be reached via email at belmar43@aol.com or by phone at 302-388-4017 (cell) or 302-832-8834 (landline).

Thank you for all the support that you, as a congregation, provide to our children and their families.

Blessings,

Belinda

Sermon for Feast of the Transfiguration – August 6, 2017/Year A

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This is one of those “special” days in our church year, a day the usual Sunday lectionary gets bumped. Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration. The altar hangings and our vestments shift from the “long green season” to our “dazzling white” versions to reflect God’s holy, radiant, and radical encounters absorbed into the very being of Moses, and revealed from what was always within of Jesus. While this is a great story, our techno-virtual 21st century short-term attention spans may say “Yeah, yeah, big whoop! So what comes next?” A seeming not that big of a deal moment that can be recreated in a minutes with sparks shooting from Jesus, his eyes bulging in radiance … and zombies galore, of course!”

We can choose to follow Jesus, or ….

See the Reverend Paul W. Gennett, Jr.’s sermon for Feast of the Transfiguration – August 6, 2017/Year A.

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