Sermon for The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday

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“So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”

My journey of Lent this year, seeking to “lengthen” my faith by cleaning yet again this littered soul home, I have walked our stations in The Way of the Cross many times. Following the process and progression, fourteen places taking me deeper and deeper into the agony of Christ, yet higher into the redeeming love that loves us even to death. When finished, I always was drawn to return to the First Station. In that ritual movement, that still holds part in our life to this day, Pontius Pilate ritually washes away responsibility for this whole sordid, unjust moment of time. Today, we still wash our hands of the whole mess when we feel we can no longer deal with a situation, and perhaps simply do not want to any longer.

See Father Paul’s Sermon for The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday in its entirety.

The Journey of Holy Week

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The services of Holy Week are individual parts of a single great service in which we remember and celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. This foundational event of the Christian faith is the Paschal Mystery. Just as the ancient Passover (Pesach in Hebrew, Pasch in Latin) commemorates the deliverance from slavery and the Covenant established between God and the chosen people of Israel, the Passover of God’s New Covenant celebrates the deliverance of all humankind from the power of sin and death, into the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. Early in our Christian history, the liturgical observance known as the Triduum (Trih-duh-oom, Latin for “three days”), comprising the arrest, trial, execution and burial of Jesus, and his resurrection “on the third day,” came to being. The services of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and the Great Vigil of Easter, together with Palm Sunday, focus on aspects of the Paschal Mystery. None of the services is complete in itself. It is only by entering fully into the commemoration of the Paschal Mystery through the experience of Holy Week worship that its meaning can be truly understood and richly experienced.



Our walk with Christ begins with a festive Procession of Palms recalling his walk from Bethany into Jerusalem. This is not a historic re-creation of an event long past; we are disciples proclaiming Jesus’ saving presence today. When we wave our palms and sing “Hosanna,” we claim our own belief in his presence and power.

The second part of the Liturgy includes a reading known as “The Passion,” the account of our Lord’s suffering and death. This is the only Sunday of the year that the story of our Lord’s death is read. The gospel account is from Matthew, Mark, or Luke, according to our three-year lectionary cycle. From the joy of the triumphal procession, to the intensity of The Passion Gospel reading, this service generates many emotions. This range of feelings will be experienced again and again in the course of the week.

In my homily for this Passion Sunday, I invited all to prepare a simple bowl, filled with water. Much as the First Station of the Way of the Cross, may we wash our hands, not as Pilate to remove any part of Jesus from our life, but to be cleansed in the eternal Love that heals always, and love us to death into life eternal. I have attached the image of the bowl of water from our Interactive Stations of the Cross at St. Thomas’s, along with a copy of my homily for your meditation and reflection.

Collect for Passion Sunday

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Fr. Paul Gennett

Lenten/Easter activities at St. Thomas’s

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Hello Everyone,

Blessings to you as we prepare to begin Holy Week!

I wanted to mention a few activities you and your children are invited to engage in in the coming week.

1) Tomorrow, March 20, is Palm Sunday. Regular Sunday School and CREW youth group meetings will occur at their regular times…with the following additions:.

At 10:30, the children join the rest of the congregation for the Procession of Palms then return downstairs for the rest of their children’s worship time.

After lunch and a meeting, CREW youth will leave at 1:30 for an afternoon skating trip. Permission slips are required for the trip to Christiana Skating Center and can be obtained from one of the youth leaders or me via email or in person on Sunday.

2) Thursday, March 24, is Maundy Thursday. That evening there will be service at St. Thomas which will include the act of footwashing by and for those who choose to participate. This service is a moving one which is an important part of the Holy Week Journey. It is a good one to take older children to who are ready to delve deeper into their faith.

3) On Good Friday there are three services which may be of interest:

Our regular noon Good Friday service.
The Walk to Easter program at St. David’s for younger children (You can get more information abut the St. David’s event from their website or from me on Sunday)

The evening Stations of the Cross Service at St. Thomas .At the evening service, participants will walk the journey through the stations together while scripture and psalms/songs are read or sung.

4) The Great Vigil is on Saturday.This is definitely one of my favorite services. It is an evening service and fairly long for families but it has many things to recommend it…..lots of people participating, our whole history portrayed through scripture, music and drama, light, darkness, renewal of our baptismal vows, asperges, and finally, celebration. If you are able, I highly recommend attending! Bring bells!!!

5) And last but not least, Easter Sunday service. What can I say, beautiful, celebratory…Easter goodies…and an egg hunt for children after the 10:30 service.

Please plan to bring a “basket” and at least 10 filled eggs for each child who will be hunting. We will have collection bins for the eggs stationed outside the sanctuary on Easter Sunday.

We are also seeking someone to host coffee hour on Easter; this would involve setting up and cleaning up afterward. The duties could be shared by more than one person.

I pray that I will see you at one or a few of these events. But most of all, I pray that you are all well.

Peace be with you,
Belinda Young-Payne

Maundy Thursday Soup and Bread Supper – cancelled

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Sometimes we have to do different things so that we appreciate traditions.

It’s been our tradition for many years, but this year we’re not going to have the supper before the 7:30 solemn service.

Please come to church at 7:30. You will be moved by the foot washing experience and by the stripping of the altar. And stay for some of the Watch in the Garden.

It just might change your understanding of what happened to Jesus – who gave his life for ours.

A Pastoral Response from the House of Bishops Meeting

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Blessings be upon all in Grace on the doorstep of Passion Sunday and our Holy Week journey.

The past week, the House of Bishops held its spring gathering at Camp Allen, the camp and conference center for the Diocese of Texas. From emerging conversations shared in small settings and companioning, along with moving meditations on Jesus journey to the Cross, and beyond, by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, this letter titled “Episcopal Bishops Issue A Word to the Church” was prayed, shaped, formed, and unanimously approved by the House of Bishops. I invite you to read, mark, and enter in prayer for our common humanity as we are called to be, people of the Word, people of God. I would be happy to have conversations with you as you wish about this important letter for all.

In the days ahead, my prayers surround this parish family, our community, our world, that we may know the power of the resurrection LIVED in us!

With gratefulness, your servant in Christ,
Fr. Paul Gennett, Jr.+

Holy Week and Easter 2016 Schedule

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Sunday, March 20: Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday

    8:00 a.m.      Liturgy of the Palms, Reading of the Passion, Holy Eucharist I

   10:30 a.m.      Liturgy of the Palms, Reading of the Passion, Holy Eucharist II

    5:30 p.m.      Liturgy of the Palms, Reading of the Passion, Inclusive Language Liturgy & Holy Eucharist


Monday, March 21 through Thursday, March 24

Evening Prayer at 5:15 p.m.


Maundy Thursday, March 24

    6:00 p.m.      Soup and Bread Supper in the Great Hall

    7:30 p.m.      Maundy Thursday Liturgy, Foot Washing, Holy Eucharist II and Stripping of the Altar, followed by Nightwatch hours in prayer at the Altar of Repose 

   10:00 p.m.      10:00 p.m. Compline


Good Friday, March 25

    8:00 a.m.      Morning Prayer

   12:00 noon      Good Friday Liturgy with Sermon and Solemn Collects

    7:00 p.m.      The Way of the Cross – Praying the Stations of the Cross


Holy Saturday, March 26

    7:00 p.m.      The Great Vigil of Easter – Festal Celebration of Holy Eucharist with incense


Easter Day, March 27

    8:00 a.m.      Holy Eucharist

   10:30 a.m.      Festal Holy Eucharist with Choir & Brass

    5:30 p.m.      NO SERVICE on Easter Day

Sermon for The Fifth Sunday of Lent

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“But this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”

 Paul’s words of life and faith frame the doorway into Holy Week. Yet it seems in clear contrast to one of the promises of recovering life from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous – “We will not forget the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.” If I do the soul house cleaning needed that Lent makes space to do, I always unearth something[s] that I SO want to shut the door on, fast, hard, and forever!

See the The Fifth Sunday of Lent sermon in its entirety.

Carpenter’s Helper for March 13, 2016

posted in: Lent, News, Outreach | 0

Dear friends of St. Thomas’s,

Time to Spring Forward! Daylight Savings Time begins on Sunday, March 13. Set your clocks AHEAD one hour Saturday night, March 12. We don’t want you to miss church!

This Sunday 4:00 p.m. Lenten Choral Cantata – don’t’ miss!

MANY HANDS NEEDED –  Brian Smith is away, and as always, we miss him! Brian, our most excellent sexton returns on Monday, March 14. Until then, we will need many hands working together to do the things that seem to happen magically!  Those that gather for the St. Thomas’s Saturday Men’s Breakfast will need to do the set-up and take down. If you see something that needs cleaning, please clean it. If the trash is full, please dump it.  Brian’s return is always cause for great thanksgiving!


THANKS FOR YOUR LETTERS TO REPEAL THE DEATH PENALTY– Your letters were delivered to the Delaware Repeal Project and will be delivered to our legislators. As you probably know SB-40 has been “pulled” for this legislative session as it is being reviewed by the Supreme Court of Delaware. Again, thank you for your efforts.

Blessings to you on this beautiful day, See this week’s Carpenter’s Helper.

Cami Seward
St. Thomas’s Parish
276 South College Ave.
Newark, Delaware 19711

Teen and Tween Lenten Gathering

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All current Tweens and Teens (4th -12th graders) are invited to attend.  Come for the whole evening or just the part that fits you.  We will begin going through the stations around 7:45 pm.  Games/Movie will begin around 8:45 pm. See the flyer. Hope to see you all! RSVP: by calling Belinda Young-Payne at 302-832-8834 or e-mailing to