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.

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

Carpenter’s Helper for March 13, 2016

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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

Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Lent & 174th Annual Meeting of St. Thomas’s Parish

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“But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father…”

The Fourth Sunday in Lent is known as Refreshment or Lighten Up Sunday in the church world. It is a little beyond the halfway point of our journey with Jesus and the disciples to Jerusalem … to the power base of the Temple and the Roman world … to reveal God’s TRUE kingdom come on earth plans … to an end that no one expected, except Jesus. I was reminded in another reading that this is also known as Mothering Sunday in which pilgrims would return to the “mother church” for time of reunion, renewal, and feasting.

For me, Lighten Up is less about telling numerous bad church jokes and more about lightening our spiritual loads we carry, still. To come home to God and Jesus in the loving place desired from our very creation, and not in abject guilt, remorse, or shame. Repentance is simply turning round right again, or as the Prodigal of today’s Gospel, “But when he came to himself …” which could be translated as when he came to his right mind and was restored to sanity.

It seems a good thing that this is the day of our 174th Annual Meeting of St. Thomas’s Parish. A day for this family of God to come home, to refresh, renew, and be in relationship with one another again and with our loving creative God.

Let us come home, together.

See the sermon in its entirety.

The Reverend Paul W. Gennett, Jr.

Lenten Cantata

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A new, major choral work, The Stations of the Cross, by Marc F. Cheban will be given its first two performances in March. On Saturday, March 12 the performance will be at Christ United Methodist (401 High Street, Chestertown, MD) at 4:00 p.m. On Sunday, March 13 the performance will be at St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church (276 South College Ave., Newark, DE), also at 4:00 p.m. The choirs from both churches will join for the performances.

Marc Cheban Marc F. Cheban is a noted Concert Organist, Composer, and Choral Director in the Mid-Atlantic area. Some of his organ works are published by Warner. For 35 years he has been an organist at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA. For many of those years he has also been a featured organist during the Christmas Season at Longwood. He has recorded many CDs of holiday music, and traditional organ music. Though Cheban has written a great many choral works over his career, this work is his most ambitious. The Stations of the Cross (also known as the Way of the Cross) is a series of fourteen meditations on the final hours of Jesus’ Passion. In this arrangement, each station begins with the singing of a verse of the Stabat Mater (a short plainsong chant associated with the Passion) by the entire assembly. The main musical component of each station varies among choral pieces, organ interpretations, and congregational hymns.

In its breadth of texture and emotion, the Stations of the Cross is a deeply spiritual work of great power, inspired over a ten-month period. Please plan to attend one of the performances and help Marc celebrate this major undertaking. Thank you.
A free will offering will be collected to support an organization founded by a good friend of Marc’s, Chuck Selvaggio. The organization – Neighbors to Nicaragua – helps the poorest areas of that country to build school buildings, provide much needed school supplies, clothing, etc. The organization has really developed good momentum; he and other volunteers have made many trips there over recent years and the Neighbors to Nicaragua website  is full of good pictures.

Episcopal Church resources for exploring a holy Lent

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[Episcopal News Service] The season of Lent, the 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, begins Feb. 10 this year, and across the Episcopal Church there are a number of devotional resources to help Episcopalians observe a holy Lent.

In their article are links to information about resources that ENS has received to date. Additional resources, including the presiding bishop’s Lenten message will be available in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent.

What is Ash Wednesday about?

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Your friends at the Acts 8 Movement are glad to offer the Episcopal Church a customizable video for congregations to promote their Ash Wednesday liturgies. This video is our gift to you. You may post it as is, or you can download a high resolution video and with some basic video editing skills create a customized video for your congregation. See more info.