United Thank Offering

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The spring ingathering of The United Thank Offering will take place on Sunday, May 21st, at all services. The Blue Envelopes are in the service bulletin TODAY, and again next week. Blue Boxes for collection of coins are available on the nametag table. Please count the coins in your Blue Boxes and write a check for that amount. For more information please contact Ronnie Wilbur at vfwilbur@gmail.com.

Sermon for The Fifth Sunday of Easter & Mother’s Day – May 14, 2017/Year A

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“Those first communities of The Way, like that of John’s Gospel, heard these words in the context of a particular time and particular events in their lives. The persecution of “those Jesus followers” was real and rampant all around them. It was a time they were called to lean and live into this faith of Jesus as THEIR way, THEIR truth, and THEIR life, even to THEIR death. Now two millennia later, the words of Jesus invitation into this LIVING faith still echo for those of us along this journey, but it is a different time and context. Sadly, these same words of invitation into a LIVING faith are often used as a bludgeon against “those other people.””

See the sermon for Sermon for The Fifth Sunday of Easter & Mother’s Day – May 14, 2017 / Year A in its entirety.

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Garden Trekkers trip to Winterthur on May 17

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On Wednesday, May 17, 2017, join us for a Flower Trek with Brenda Tunis to guide you through the Azalea Woods, Enchanted Woods and Primrose Garden of Winterthur. We will spend about 1-1/2 – 2 hours walking about the gardens and then picnic for about a 1/2 hour so pack a picnic lunch. Bring $20.00 for admission, your Winterthur Membership card, or complimentary ticket (see sign-up sheet on Great Hall door for additional pricing information).  Wear sturdy shoes for the rolling terrain. There may be a possible 20 minute tram tour available.

Let’s meet at 9:30 a.m. at the St. Thomas’s parking lot to carpool or meet at Winterthur at 10:10 a.m. in the Visitor Center by the Gift Shop.

Call or email Brenda Tunis with any questions at (302) 530-1492 or email brendartunis@yahoo.com or just sign up on the sign-up sheet in St. Thomas’s lobby.

Hail to the Class of 2017

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This time of the year brings celebrations for the accomplishments of many of our parish family in completing their academic journey in high school and college, and.we would like to honor them with you! Please send the name of your graduate [high school, undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, or a special degree program] to our parish administrator Adele Meredith on or before May 30. You can send the information by e-mail to Adele at adelemeredithstthomas@gmail.com or call the church office at 368-4644. The graduates will be honored in the Carpenter’s Helper throughout the month of June. “Enlighten by your Holy Spirit those who teach and those who learn, that, rejoicing in the knowledge of your truth, they may worship you and serve you from generation to generation. Amen”

ECM Sunday

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This coming Sunday, May 7th, the Episcopal Campus Ministry (ECM) will provide our preacher, Ms. Matanda Mondoa who will be graduating from the University of Delaware this spring. The students will also provide Coffee Hour for this Sunday. At our recent elections the following students were elected as officers for 2017/2018: rising junior Collen Murray, President; rising sophomore Carla Wegner, Secretary; rising sophomore Susan Zaccaria, Treasurer. We also give thanks & say “God be with you” to graduating students Catherine Morse, Matanda Mondoa and Max Holdsworth.

Please visit our ECM news.

Chapter 22, Page 175 – Forward in Faith, May 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

“… 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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“Live in the wisdom of accepted gentleness. Gentleness awakens within the security of knowing we are thoroughly and sincerely loved by someone … Scripture suggests that the essence of the divine nature is compassion and that the heart of God is defined by gentleness.” Brennan Manning

I was delighted to learn of our Sunday Parlor Group [aka Adult Education gathering] was planning a return engagement to read and discuss The Shack by William P. Young. This gathering had its first encounter with this modern day spiritual story when first released in 2009. Now made into a movie, interest in returning to this story of life, faith, and struggle with each, came into being again. And seriously, with Octavia Spencer as God who wouldn’t want to have a life conversation with her!

I returned to this book as well just before and during Holy Week. I was cruising along, trying to be attentive to my spirit engaged in the story, while mindful of the six worship services to organize and as many sermons to prepare, until I came to a place in the book that brought me to a dead stop. It was a section in which I had underlined AND highlighted. Here is what it was that I had read in a conversation between the pain-soaked father Mack with God in The Shack

“But,” Mack paused. “What about your wrath? It seems to me that if you’re going to pretend to be God almighty, you need to be a lot angrier?” “Do I now? I understand how disorienting all this must be for you, Mack. But the only one pretending here is you. I am what I am. I’m not trying to fit anyone’s bill.” … “But if you are God, aren’t you the one spilling out great bowls of wrath and throwing people into a burning lake of fire? Honestly, don’t you enjoy punishing those who disappoint you?”

At that, Papa stopped her preparations and turned toward Mack. He could see a deep sadness in her eyes. “I am not who you think I am, Mackenzie. I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.”

 

“Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing is so gentle as real strength.” Ralph W. Sockman

Our Tuesday and Wednesday morning bible study gatherings are fairly vocal about not buying into the wrathful God mostly found in Hebrew Scriptures. I remind them, saying aloud remind myself as well, that these stories were collected, told, re-collected and written by people just like us. Just looking and listening as to how God blesses one country or culture or political view and none others. Told and collected and written by a people trying to find a way through life and faith as conquerors as well as those who were conquered. It is really easy to praise OR blame something that is somewhere out there in those times of plenty or times of want, in time of peace or times at war.

And then we have Jesus. Jesus who blesses the merciful ones and the peacekeepers. Jesus who touches the leper, the sick, and the impoverished in body and spirit and says again and again, “Be healed, go in peace. YOUR FAITH has made you well.” Jesus who spent most of his short kingdom bearing message life out on the streets and in the countryside where the people of God lived and had their being. Not in places of ivory palace grandeur or Temple practice and performance. Not until the end of his time which we know is REALLY our beginning. It is REALLY our beginning that is the Church to this day.

For me, gentleness always begins with ourselves. I am still guilty of being too hard on myself for what I did do or did not do. Sometimes this spills out on others, and for that I am sorry and need forgiveness. It has been the part of me that made me very sick in soul and body at one time … and I CHOOSE not to live this way again! I am a work in progress, and pray forgiveness as I forgive myself and others along this way of life.

I begin my day praying the Daily Office, reading the appointed scriptures and psalms, reflecting on a variety of other meditative readings, and then into silence before journaling. As I enter this time and place called the silence of Love, I place my hand upon a picture I have carried since my first sabbatical in 2015. It is the contemporary picture of the Good Shepherd – Jesus holding close to his breast a lamb, eyes closed and a contented smile pursing his lips, while the lamb reflects this same image holding tight to Jesus. I then sit in the silence called Love.

As Octavia aka “God” says rightly, “It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.”

“I choose gentleness … Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.” Max Lucado

In our days filled with so many polarized views, spewing angry words and actions at one another, hate speech that claims THIS God is OUR God of might and right, and our God alone. Maybe the difference is for you and me to bear the cloak of gentleness into our worlds. Maybe the difference in the life of the world may just start with you and me.

Try a little gentleness …

With gratefulness always, your servant in Christ

Fr. Paul+

Sermon for The Third Sunday of Easter – April 30, 2017/Year A

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Most every town has a store in which there is nothing but lamps, hundreds and sometimes thousands of lamps. Some are antique, some are new, some are plain, and some are ornate. Some of them are unplugged while others are showcasing their light. One day a little girl was shopping for new lamps with her mother. When asked which lamps she liked best, she answered, “I like best the ones where the light shines out.”

This is no less true of us in our churches and our present-day witness to the Risen Christ. How well do our lives showcase our light? Who is being attracted to this light, being nourished by it, letting it penetrate and empower their lives? Macrina Wiederkehr, in her book Seven Sacred Pauses, writes of the pilgrims on the road to Emmaus: “When their eyes were opened they recognized the One who journeyed with them on their pilgrimage so full of questions … ‘Were not our hearts burning within us?’ Using slightly different words, this same question is displayed on the icon of the Emmaus journey that sits on my small altar: ‘Were not our hearts gradually catching fire?’

Eastertide is all about living OUR resurrection. So perhaps the response of Cleopas and companion might be heard for us – What is our heartburn like today?

See the sermon for Sermon for The Third Sunday of Easter – April 30, 2017/Year A in its entirety.

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Inquirer’s Class – Thursday evening, May 11 and 18 at 6:00 p.m.

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In our liturgy for Holy Baptism, the concluding prayer for the baptized person includes this invitation to our journey of faith … “Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and persevere, a spirit to know and to love you and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works.” For those adults of “inquiring and discerning hearts” at St. Thomas’s, I will offer What It Means To Be An “Episcopalian” – An Outline Of Our Christian Faith & Life. This course is open to anyone who desires to journey deeper in this commitment we live. It is required for those persons who desire to be confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church at the regional confirmation service, the Day of Pentecost: June 4 at 4:00 p.m., Christ Church Christiana Hundred. The course booklet will be provided for reading prior to the class to maximize our time together. There will be two teaching sessions will be held on Thursday evening, May 11 & 18, 6:00 p.m. in the Parlor. Please contact Fr. Paul if you have any questions or are interested in attending by e-mail paulgennett@comcast.net.

Children’s Ministries Family Breakfast

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See our flyer about our Annual Children’s Ministries Family Brunch on April 30. All are welcome, especially families with children in our children’s and youth ministry programs. It is a potluck but please feel free to come with just yourself!

When: April 30, 9:30 a.m. (Please try to arrive a few minutes early so we can gather our food offerings before we begin.)
Where: St. Thomas’s Great Hall
Who: Everyone, but especially children, youth and their families
What: Please bring a dish or breakfast item to share. Beverages will be provided.

To RSVP, ask questions or volunteer to help: Email Belinda Young-Payne at belmar43@aol.com or call at 302-388-4017.

I pray you are all well and that we will see each other soon! We invite you to see also our Children’s Ministries web page.

Blessings,
Belinda

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