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”

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+

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.

175th Anniversary Spring Gala

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175th anniversaryJoin us Saturday, May 6 at 6:00 p.m. to celebrate the 175th anniversary of our church home! Delicious dinner. Live Music and dancing.

Use our 175th Anniversary Spring Gala flyer to invite your friends and neighbors! Sorry, no sitters will be provided.

Time: Starts at 6:00 p.m.
Cost: $20 per person in advance, $25 at the door (Under 10 – $10)
Attire: Upscale
Included with Ticket: Dinner, desserts, coffee, tea & soda, door prizes AND live music from Brooke Cebula’s band!

Bring additional cash for purchasing raffle tickets, beer and wine, specialty non-alcoholic drinks, and a variety of beautiful plants.

We have a good crowd so far but would love to see former or future St. Thomas members as well. Please reach out invite someone!

RSVP to 175springgala@gmail.com.

Thanks,

The 175th Spring Gala Committee

Poets’ Corner Reading Series

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Poets’ Corner Reading Series presents
Sally Rosen Kindred
reading her favorite poets
Saturday, April 15, 2017, 4:00p.m.
St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church, 276 S. College Ave., Newark, DE

Free-will offering.

Sally Rosen Kindred is the author of two books of poems from Mayapple Press, Book of Asters (2014), and No Eden (2011), and two chapbooks, Garnet Lanterns (2006), winner of the Anabiosis Press Prize, and Darling Hands, Darling Tongue (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). She has received fellowships from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Her poems have appeared in Quarterly West, Blackbird, Hunger Mountain, Verse Daily, and other journals, and anthologized in Best New Poets 2009 and The Moment of Change. A native of North Carolina, she lives in Maryland.

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

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

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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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He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” Luke 13:18-19

As I reflected on the fruit of FAITHFULNESS, I was led to the passage from Luke [found as well in Mark and Matthew] about mustard seed faith … and the passage returned to me the gracious memory of Lynn Peachy and her daughter Mary. Many may remember “Miss Peachy” and Mary from their joyful musical support of our Lights Choir up until Lynn’s death in 2013. With the clockwork precision of Greenwich Mean Time, Lynn would arrive by her DART bus “chariot” with Mary each Tuesday afternoon. Motoring along on her brightly decorated motorized wheelchair, they would share in supper they brought along with them in the Great Hall classroom while waiting for the children to arrive. It was always the time in which I was blessed to hear of their adventures during that week. While supported financially by Social Security disability insurance and small retirement stipend of her late husband, she navigated life always with a smile and filled with God’s love to share abundantly. She loved our children … she loved Jesus … and she LIVED her FAITHFULNESS the best she could in the ways she knew how.

The last six months of her life, it became physically impossible for Lynn to come to St. Thomas’s to be with “her children” in the Lights Choir. In my visits with Lynn, scattered between hospital stays and the nursing home in which she moved in her latter days, Lynn was always spreading God’s love while suffering in deep pain of multiple health challenges. Even in those hospital stays, she would have her trusty portable keyboard beside her bed, often playing spirituals that came deep from her bones of faith. The other item that was always traveling with Lynn was her mustard seed plant. When this lesson was the appointed Gospel, Deacon Cecily was the preacher on that day. As part of her sermon, she gave mustard seeds to all gathered to visually show how small in size it really is. Lynn and Mary took that seed, planted and watered it, and it grew … and grew … and grew. After Lynn’s death, Mary went to live with a sibling in Pennsylvania. She carried her mother’s keyboard and mustard seed plant with her.

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast [the demon] out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:19-20

The blessing of “Miss Peachy” in my life, and I believe to the lives of the children and families she touched in her time with us, is that she LIVED resurrection faithfulness! She clearly understood that her health was fragile and failing, and VERY CLEAR about her mortal life. Lynn lived each day as if this would be her last, so she lived it fully and joyfully. Living out of her resurrection faithfulness, she would do something every day to serve and glorify her Lord through her living. Many days it was in serving with our children on Tuesday evenings and being present in worship with Mary every Sunday. Some days, when her health was compromised, it would be through a phone call, or a piano lesson, or writing a note to share her gratitude and faith. I have a handful of “Miss Peachy” notes in a special file I go to when my resurrection faithfulness is not working real well.

As we come to Holy Week and Easter Day, I was captured by the following from a portion of a book My Bright Abyss by Christian Winman:

“Just as some of Jesus’ first-century followers could not credit the presence of the risen Christ, so our own blindness, habit, and fear form a kind of constant fog that keeps us from seeing, and thereby having faith in, the forms that grace takes in our everyday lives. We may think that it would be a great deal easier to have a living faith if the world erupted around us, if some savior came down and offered as evidence the bloody scars in his side. What the Gospels suggest is that this is not only wishful thinking but willful blindness, for in fact the world is erupting around us, and Christ is very often offering us the scars in his side right now. What we call doubt is often simply dullness of mind and spirit, not the absence of faith at all. It is faith latent in the lives we are not quite living, God dormant in the world to which we are not quite giving our best selves.” “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” What mountains, or even hills, await movement by living your resurrection faithfulness in the here and now of your days? Maybe standing at the foot of the Cross of Calvary on Good Friday will reignite the faith that is “… latent in the lives we are not quite living … in the world to which we are not quite giving our best selves.”

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

With gratefulness always, your servant in Christ

Fr. Paul+

Our New Parish Administrator Adele Meredith!

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Blessings in Grace to all this day!

I am delighted to announce the newest member of our St. Thomas’s serving team Adele Meredith as our next Parish Administrator. Adele will taking the place of Cami Seward who leaves us on March 31 after 7 years of faithful serving Christ to all of us. Adele’s first day will be Monday, April 3. Please see the letter of introduction & welcome for your perusal.
Please join in welcoming Adele warmly in the days to come to our St. Thomas’s family in faith!
Grateful always, in peace,
Fr. Paul+

Camp Arrowhead 2017 Season

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The 2017 brochures, fee schedule, and applications for Camp Arrowhead, our diocesan summer camping program, are now available, and you will find them on the name tag table while they last. You can go on-line as well for the brochure and application through the Camp Arrowhead website www.camparrowhead.net

Scholarship assistance is available through Camp Arrowhead and the Bishop’s Fund. Additionally, St. Thomas’s has very limited funds to offer partial scholarship help as requested. Please let Fr. Paul know of your interest in a scholarship, and amount needed by April 23, 2017.  If you are willing to support a young person in spending a week at this great gift of our diocese, please make your donation check to St. Thomas’s with a note Camp Arrowhead Scholarship and give to Fr. Paul or Dom Berta, our Business Manager. The average cost for one week at camp is $550. Prices vary for different programs, and all outlined in the camp brochure and on the website.

Thank you for your interest and support of this wonderful gift to our children and youth in growing in the love and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Grateful always, your servant in Christ,

Fr. Paul+

“Take good care of yourself”

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“Take good care of yourself” was originally posted at the Diocese of Delaware web site but it was too good and helpful not to post here too.

written by the Rev. Paul Gennett, Jr.

Not long after March 1, my phone started ringing and email’s buzzing about “ecclesiastical authority” issues that would normally land on the bishop’s desk in those “usual times” for our diocese. However, since we are now in the “in-between time” these questions, decisions, and/or complaints land with the Standing Committee. It was during one of these conversations on a topic needing “ecclesiastical authority” advice and direction that the person concluded our call by saying, “I appreciate all you and the Standing Committee are doing for the diocese. Take good care of yourself.” My first, and not best, reaction internally emerged, “Just what do they mean by that?” I confess and claim this as not my best reaction. It quickly subsided with my gratitude and response of thanks for their care and prayers.

As I have reflected on these words in days after, I have come to appreciate that this can be an invitation for ALL of us in the “in-between time” as we navigate our way, seeking to “live and move and have our being” together as this people of God and of the Jesus Movement in our diocesan family of faith. It becomes an invitation to share in the work of this “common ministry” toward our ultimate goal and call of our 11th bishop to the Diocese of Delaware. Not only for self-care in these times, which is always before us to be the best for serving God means to be best for us. I also hear it as offered for us to be a person and friend and to reach out and touch someone as the phone commercial invites.

Prayerfully consider who that might be in our diocese or in your life. Who are those people who work quietly and faithfully for our common good that could be blessed by a care call to Take good care of yourself. Perhaps you have “reacted rather than responded” to someone about a need, request, question, or simply as an unintended target of your frustration at that moment. Maybe a call to make amends may be exactly what is needed for you and the other person to Take good care of yourself. Maybe we might begin to discern and discuss issues and actions that could be addressed together in moving forward in a way of health and well-being. The recent “opportunities” for serving as Christ in social justice ways about immigration, poverty, constant bomb threats against Jewish community centers and Muslim communities has given rise to a new colleague group gathering in New Castle County to share ideas and resources for needs in our communities that we can push down to our parishes to share in this ministry as well as our own call to action. This has led to opening conversations with our diocesan communications coordinator of what and how an information resource page might become a link on our diocesan website to serve as resource for all three counties in Delaware. Together, for God’s sake, we Take good care of yourself AND others.

In these days, there will [and already have been] situations we have not thought of until … So far we are finding our way together. Not all situations will be easy, and some will not and cannot be decided right now, but together we will “know the way” by faith through the One who leads us home, always, to Take good care of yourself AND others.

Faithfully & gratefully,

The Rev. Paul Gennett, Jr., President of the Standing Committee