Sermon for the The First Sunday after the Epiphany: The Baptism of our Lord – January 8. 2017/Year A

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“I find the First Sunday after the Epiphany a shock to the system. The sanctuary, adorned with the wonders of light and greens reflecting the Christmas Season, is now barren. Becoming fuel for the Epiphany fire, and WHAT A FIRE it was again this year! Our homes are likewise now stark and cold like our winters day. Christmas is over, and based on the renewed comments and actions of past week in the plethora of media sites and sources, so is the essence of Love come down to dwell amongst us it seems.”

See The Reverend Paul W. Gennett’s sermon for the The First Sunday after the Epiphany: The Baptism of our Lord – January 8. 2017/Year A in its entirety.

Martin Luther King Sunday, Jan. 15: A Very Special Guest Preacher

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Blessings in Grace to all this day!

On the third Sunday of January, we remember nationally and spiritually the life and witness of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On this day, I have invited Dr. Teri Quinn Gray as our preacher. Teri was born in Jackson, MS and raised in an extended hyper-functional family steered by a matriarchal regime of activists. Even though a cradle Episcopalian, Teri’s spiritual formation dipped from Southern Baptist and Nation of Islam to Buddhism and Hoodoo sometimes all congregating over a Quinn family supper on a Sunday evening. Yes, a lot of praying required just to get through the first course of the meal.

This childhood experience led to a very personal practice of the platinum rule – treat others as they want to be treated – and family directive to “be of consequence” in the world. Teri left Mississippi in the late-80s for graduate school in Maryland, married Bernard Carl Gray in 1990 followed by birth of their only son, Zhalen, in 1995, before fully transplanting to Delaware in the early 2000s. As of January 2015, Teri transferred from DuPont Crop Protection (after 17y) to DuPont Performance Materials as Technology Senior Manager leading cross-functional teams that span the USA, Canada, Mexico and Brazil. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees at University of Delaware, recently the Board of Directors for the U.S. Education Delivery Institute, and founding chair of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board. She holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Jackson State University; a PhD in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Maryland, and worked as National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institute of Standards & Technology prior to joining DuPont in 1997. Teri is President of the Delaware State Board of Education, appointed by Governor Jack Markell in 2009, and co-chair of the Delaware STEM Council since September of 2012. At St. Thomas’s, Teri has actively lived her faith, serving on Vestry, as People’s Warden, co-leader of our Confirmation Program, and a member of the Standing Committee and Disciplinary Board for the diocese.

Please join us for a very present and powerful witness on this Sunday, January 15, 2017 at the 8:00 and 10:30 a.m. services.

Grateful always, your servant in Christ,
Fr. Paul Gennett, Jr.+

Sermon for the First Sunday after Christmas & Feast of the Holy Name – January 1, 2017/Year A

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“From the Catechism of the Roman Church –“God calls each one by name. Everyone’s name is sacred. The name is the icon of the person. It demands respect as a sign of the dignity of the one who bears it.” We remember the Holy Name of Jesus this day. We remember everything is in a name!”

Learn more! Learn about the Feast of the Holy Name. See the sermon for the First Sunday after Christmas & Feast of the Holy Name – January 1, 2017/Year A.

Poets’ Corner Reading Series on Sat., Nov. 19

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Poets’ Corner Reading Series presents Richard Peabody reading his poetry and that of his favorite poets in the sanctuary at St. Thomas’s. Richard Peabody is the founder and co-editor of Gargoyle Magazine and editor (or co-editor) of 24 anthologies including Mondo Barbie, Conversations with Gore Vidal, and A Different Beat: Writings by Women of the Beat Generation. The author of a novella, three short story collections, and seven poetry books, he is also a native Washingtonian. Peabody taught fiction writing at Johns Hopkins University for 15 years. His new book is The Richard Peabody Reader (Alan Squire Publishers, 2015).

Co-sponsored by St. Thomas’s Parish and the University of Delaware Department of English. All are cordially invited; a free-will offering is optional.

Coming Home … Going Forward, Together – A Pastoral Letter to St. Thomas’s Parish

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Blessings in Grace to all in this family of faith!

I have been emerging from what feels like a very bad and persistent hangover from a one night bender, something I have not felt this palpably in over 19 years. Holding my feelings in prayer, and in the conversations with so many who bear your own feelings like this emerging less from who won or did not win the elections this Tuesday past but more from what has happened to us as a nation, as human beings one to another, in this land. A philosopher once wrote about the early emerging nation called the United States of America that “What makes America great is that it is GOOD. When it ceases to be good, it will cease to be great.”

What has emerged from my prayerful bearing of this “hangover” is a pastoral letter I have attached,  sharing my journey and given to you as it may be of help, if any. As noted in the latter part of the letter, I will be present for holy listening and speaking with one another for anyone who desires on Sunday, November 13 in the seating circle in the Great Hall between and after the morning services, and will arrive around 4 p.m. for the 5:30 p.m. service this day.

This is not a commentary, it is my best prayerful response, broken and redeemed as I am. My desire is that we not spiral down into the ugly diatribe swirling around us, but as people of Love, be with one another, for one another, in Christ. May this be so. See this Pastoral Letter.

Grateful to all, always, in peace,
Fr. Paul Gennett, Jr.+

Chapter 22, Page 175 — Forward in Faith November 2016

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“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love … I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:9-12

I recently officiated the burial office for a young husband and father, the circumstances of his death sudden and tragic. As I learned more of his life, his hopes, and his loves, the reading from John’s Gospel, and singing Beethoven’s Hymn to Joy, came clear and a necessary part in the celebration of his life. I encountered some questions about these selections. My response was that we, as Christian, are people of the Incarnation AND Resurrection. We are a people who bear the fullness of the life, death, and eternal life of our Lord Jesus Christ in our living now, and our spirit that can live on in the lives of those whom we touch in this mortal journey. We can live like this, and we can live like this now, with JOY.

See Father’ Paul’s Forward in Faith November 2016 in its entirety.

Episcopal Campus Ministry (ECM) and Lutheran Campus Ministry (LCM) enjoy hayride and bon fire

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Episcopal Campus Ministry (ECM) and Lutheran Campus Ministry (LCM) students went on a hayride and enjoyed a bon fire at Milburn Orchards with their St. Thomas’s family! Hot dogs and s’mores, apple cider and water were enjoyed around the bon fire. This fellowship activity was recommended by our Young Adult and Campus Ministry (YACM) collaborative  “Together at the Table” grant and was hosted by us – Episcopal Campus Ministry (ECM)!

St. Thomas’s is so proud of our students and you may catch up on their 2016-17 activities from their web page available from the St. Thomas’s web site.

Chapter 22, Page 175 — Forward in Faith November 2016

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Chapter 22, Page 175 – Forward in Faith

“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

“… and the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.”  Galatians 5:22-23

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“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love … I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:9-12

I recently officiated the burial office for a young husband and father, the circumstances of his death sudden and tragic. As I learned more of his life, his hopes, and his loves, the reading from John’s Gospel, and singing Beethoven’s Hymn to Joy, came clear and a necessary part in the celebration of his life. I encountered some questions about these selections. My response was that we, as Christian, are people of the Incarnation AND Resurrection. We are a people who bear the fullness of the life, death, and eternal life of our Lord Jesus Christ in our living now, and our spirit that can live on in the lives of those whom we touch in this mortal journey. We can live like this, and we can live like this now, with JOY.

The words of Jesus in the Last Supper discourse of John are words that express what joy Jesus desires in days to come for his disciples, days that will not be real joyful as we tend to define joy in our times. For much of the world, joy is the thing that makes me happy now, satisfies me now, and fulfills my life nowthe instant gratification syndrome where we tend to live on the surface of our cyber-social connected life. Yet real joy emerges in life through celebration and despair, wholeness and needed healing, in life and in death. Frederick Buechner writes, “Happiness turns up more or less where you would expect it to – a good marriage, a rewarding job, a pleasant vacation. Joy, on the other hand, is a notoriously unpredictable as the one who bequeaths it.”

If we live as people of the Incarnation AND Resurrection, we know how it feels and what it looks like to live INTO our joy through all the vagaries of life. We can live like the praise of the psalmist, “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to God’s holy name … God’s favor is for a lifetime .Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” [30:4-5]. It is living into a life that is for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness in health, until we are parted by death. It is THIS joy we live in a life of faith. It is THIS joy that can be seen by our world around us.

In his book of daily meditations, Bread for the Journey, Henri Nouwen captures the essence of a life of faith lived in joy through hope – “The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with the trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go … Hope is the trust that God will fulfill God’s promises to us in a way that leads us to true freedom. The person of hope lives in the moment with the knowledge and trust that all of life is in good hands.”

I led a retreat some years ago in which I used various rocks as an example of how the fruits of the Spirit can be lived even in the hardness that life can bring, sometimes feeling as hard as rocks pounding against our aching body and soul. I have been keeping the rock with JOY written upon it as my prayer partner, holding his wife and two young children in prayer each day. It seems to me the continuing call of a family of faith, claiming Jesus Christ as we are, to be with others through the highest heaven, and the valley of the shadow of death, with the JOY in knowing we are never, never alone.

This is what being church is all about, now and eternally. This is the ROCK we are called to be and bear into our world all around us … the ROCK that is JOY!

With gratefulness always, your servant in Christ

Fr. Paul+

Election Day: Praying the Hours at St. Thomas’s UPDATE with pictures

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On Nov. 3, we updated our Oct. 31, 2016 Election Day: Praying the Hours at St. Thomas’s story to share Election Day Prayers. With this update, we are sharing pictures of the day.

The Worship Ministry & people of St. Thomas’s Parish are planning to do what we can on November 8 — first, VOTE, and then PRAY the hours of this election day for our local government, our state, our nation, and the world. Beginning at 7 a.m. when polls open until 8 p.m. when they close, our sanctuary will be open for prayers for our country and ourselves so the world may know ultimately the winner is Love! We will have offerings of prayers available, as well as prayer stations that relate/respond to the issues of our life and our world. We hope any/all will join us in voting AND praying this day.