Carpenter’s Helper Newsletter for the week of May 20, 2018

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See St. Thomas’s Carpenter’s Helper newsletter for May 20, 2018. See all newsletters.

Pentecost Parish Picnic takes place this Sunday, May 20 after the 10:30 a.m. service. St. Thomas’s will provide hamburgers, veggie burgers and hot dogs a well as paper products and drinks. There will also be games and activities for all ages.

WE NEED VOLUNTEERS to help set up, clean up and help facilitate games. We also NEED YOU to bring a side dish or dessert to complete our celebration meal. (Donations will also be accepted toward the cost of the entrees and paper products.) Signup sheets to get an estimate of how many people are coming, who can help with setup and/or cleanup, and who is bringing what will be on the Great Hall door beginning on May 6.

One more thing … you are welcome to bring chairs or picnic blankets for your comfort and enjoyment. Thanks in advance for your help in creating another great fellowship opportunity for our St. Thomas’s family, especially during, this, our 175th year!! Please feel free to e-mail me at or call me at 302-832-8834 with questions or to volunteer to help plan or facilitate the picnic.

Christmas Pageant preparation

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Hello Families,

Thanks to all who helped with the Trick or Treat for UNICEF campaign. I am hoping to collect the last of the little orange boxes this Sunday, 11/13. Then, I will announce the grand total we collected and send it off to UNICEF. If any boxes come in after that, I will send it as a separate donation on behalf of St. Thomas’s Children’s ministries.

Our next big project is the annual Christmas pageant, which will serve as the gospel and sermon during the Christmas Eve service on 12/24.  We will be doing a traditional pageant this year and will need a narrator, 12-14 children with small speaking parts (most a sentence or two) and 4+ participants with no speaking part. I have some ideas about who would be good for the parts and will begin assigning the parts this week and next. I would like to begin rehearsals during Sunday School very soon and in December there will be some practices at time outside of Sunday School.

Please let me know if your child will be available for the pageant and willing/able to play a part. I will be talking to the children myself when I see them. So it would be greatly appreciated if families could make their best effort to attend church for the next few weeks.  The Christmas pageant is one of the greatest gifts that the children give to their church each year and I would love to have everyone be a part of it..

Peace to all,
Belinda Young-Payne
Director of Children’s Ministries, St Thomas’s Parish

Sermon for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost – August 20, 2017/Year A

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“If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.” These words are spoken by Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, the young woman killed in Charlottesville VA last Saturday. These words framed the prayer service on Wednesday at Bethel AME Church in Wilmington. These words frame the ongoing call to living into our faith as the ones who call Jesus as our Lord.

We continue to allow too much polarizing speech about the others of our country and our world to rule our minds and hearts. Media and political voices dominate the floods of words, words, words, while too many good Christian folk paddle right along these vile streams of thinking and acting. After our remembrance of the Transfiguration and the first atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6, who of good faith would agree with a Christian pastor’s statement that God desires the “nuking of North Korea?” Is this what the God we worship and the Jesus we follow looks like today?

Brian McClaren is Christian pastor, writer, speaker, and advocating voice for the emerging church of open faith dialogue and living together. His book I am currently reading gives pretty clear hint to this faith stance. It is titled Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? I will give you a spoiler alert – it is NOT to separate themselves from the others but to gather in togetherness, one with another, and to move forward into our world.

For me, there are no “the others” when we live and act out of a mature faith. There are no “the others” in the Jesus Movement.

See Sermon for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost – August 20, 2017/Year A in its entirety.

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Sermon for Feast of the Transfiguration – August 6, 2017/Year A

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This is one of those “special” days in our church year, a day the usual Sunday lectionary gets bumped. Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration. The altar hangings and our vestments shift from the “long green season” to our “dazzling white” versions to reflect God’s holy, radiant, and radical encounters absorbed into the very being of Moses, and revealed from what was always within of Jesus. While this is a great story, our techno-virtual 21st century short-term attention spans may say “Yeah, yeah, big whoop! So what comes next?” A seeming not that big of a deal moment that can be recreated in a minutes with sparks shooting from Jesus, his eyes bulging in radiance … and zombies galore, of course!”

We can choose to follow Jesus, or ….

See the Reverend Paul W. Gennett, Jr.’s sermon for Feast of the Transfiguration – August 6, 2017/Year A.

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Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost – July 2, 2017/Year A

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If you want to GET OUT, you need to GO IN! Some of you may recall this story from past sermons around this time of our lectionary cycle. It is one that does not lose any power of meaning and speaking to me at any time in my faith journey.

Marilyn and I were shopping to begin a week’s vacation at the beach some years ago. We checked out and made our way to the exit when I saw THE SIGN. THE SIGN was not of the fancy four-color poster variety, just a simple, hand-scrawled in black magic marker version taped to the exit door. I suspect THE SIGN was posted by the harried store manager who, after verbally telling about a million people, wrote on THE SIGN the exact words he had said again and again and again. The automatic opener to the exit door was not operating, so THE SIGN on the door gave the following admonition – If you want to GET OUT, you need to GO IN!

It seems to me in our days and times of social, political, and religious dis-ease, proclaiming what is right and good all the while NEVER talking with the other but AT the other. Thus the spin cycle of “blame game” and interagency of views and action continues on and on and one. This way of living is getting us nowhere fast, so if we want change to happen in life around us, we need to be the change we desire THROUGH US in a living faith. The only way that truly happens is participating with our living and loving God.

If you want to GET OUT, you need to GO IN!

See the Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost – July 2, 2017/Year A.

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Sermon for The Day of Resurrection: Easter Day – April 16, 2017/Year A

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The Day of Resurrection is OUR call to know and respond to the truth we see in the depths of human suffering, injustice, and death, and to LIVE in the freedom of God’s promise of the empty tomb. The Easter story is our call, if we are to claim ourselves Christian, to live in this radical new “skin” of faithful living to which we are called right here and right now. This world changing moment becomes real through our world changing lives … Change me, bless you!

The invitation of the angel says best what transformational living really means – “Do not be afraid” … GO … TELL …!!!

See the sermon for Sermon for The Day of Resurrection: Easter Day – April 16, 2017/Year A in its entirety.

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Sermon for Theological Education Sunday, February 5

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The Episcopal Church designates the first Sunday of February as Theological Education Sunday. It is intended to invite our prayers and support for those who follow God’s call into the ordained life, as well as those who exercise their call in ministry through Holy Baptism.

This year, Father Paul invited Francie Thayer as our preacher this day. Francie is the director of The Retreat Center at Hillsboro in Hillsboro MD. The Retreat Center is a ministry of the Diocese of Easton. Formerly St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, this property has been resurrected as a retreat center where people can come for quiet, reflection, prayer, study, overnight retreat, and spiritual direction. All groups and denominations are welcomed. Francie is married to Peter Thayer, Head of School at St. Anne’s, and a graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary with a Masters in Theological Studies. She firmly believes and seeks to live out her baptismal vows as her ordination in the priesthood of all believers.

Francine has shared her Sermon for Theological Education Sunday. “What are the bushel baskets in your life that keep you from being the light of the world? that keep you from letting your light shine?” You are invited and encouraged to read the sermon in its entirety.

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

“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


“Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient.” James 5:7-8

“So, when are you leaving?” I have been asked this question more than a few times over the past year. I am pretty sure it is asked mostly out of curiosity and not with the intent of “So, why are you STILL here?” I am pretty sure, so I will stick with this thought.

The answer is – well, I am not leaving yet! While more will be revealed as the days, weeks, and months of 2017 unfold, I can say with all surety not yet. Then I began reflecting on this month’s fruit of the spirit which is PATIENCE. Funny how that works sometimes, don’t you think? We have grown to be a not real patient people or society in our days of late. It seems all those open avenues of communications and life connections that pull and push us in directions to take action, to do something, to do anything … but what? So I find myself sucked into the centrifugal force of reacting to life and events out in a future time and place I have no control over, rather than responding out of prayerfulness, being alert to people and events around me, and dwelling in PATIENCE.

I have found the work of the diocesan Standing Committee, of which I am a member, a great reminder of how PATIENCE works when I work with it. After Bishop Wright disclosed his intention of retirement in 2017, we soon met with a representative of the national church who basically gave us THE BOOK of all that needed to be done in this process. The analogy of having our mouth taped over the spigot of a fire hose was the reigning feeling of all the members. Then, together, we mapped out a tentative timeline, and began the work of inviting others to share in the process of leadership as Search and Transition Committee members. We gathered all together in our organizing retreat to begin this work in July. Now we support the work each group is doing, waiting with PATIENCE most of the time as the work unfolds before us. While we have the date of ordination and consecration set for December 9 of this year, we are still very much waiting through the days and time in God’s way, not ours. Trusting God, trusting the process, and staying where we are in this in-between time. Waiting, we pray, in PATIENCE.

In a recent meditation entitled The Three Boxes, Fr. Richard Rohr reflects on the invitation, although sometimes uncomfortable, of moving through a time of transition and the gifts that PATIENCE brings when we are faithful to the process …

“Julian of Norwich writes, ‘First the fall, and then the recovery from the fall, and both are the mercy of God.’ Whenever we’re led out of normalcy into sacred, open space, it’s going to feel like suffering, because it is letting go of what we’re used to. This is always painful at some level. But part of us has to die if we are ever to grow larger (John 12:24). The role of the prophet is to lead us into sacred space by deconstructing the old space while the role of the priest is to teach us how to live fruitfully in sacred space. The prophet disconnects us from the false, and the priest reconnects us to the real at ever larger levels. If priests have been largely unsuccessful, it is because there are so few prophets.
Think in terms of what I call “the three boxes”: order > disorder > reorder. The first order, where we all begin, is a necessary first “containment.” But this structure is dangerous if we stay there too long. It is too small and self-serving. Initial “order” doesn’t really know the full picture, but it thinks it does. Only in the final “reorder” stage can darkness and light coexist, can paradox be okay. We are finally at home in the only world that ever existed. This is true and contemplative knowing. Here death is a part of life, failure is a part of victory, and imperfection is included in perfection. Opposites collide and unite; everything belongs.
We dare not get rid of our pain before we have learned what disorder has to teach us. Most of religion gives answers too quickly, dismisses pain too easily, and seeks to be distracted—to maintain some ideal order. So we must resist the instant fix and acknowledge ourselves as beginners to be open to true transformation. How can a Christian look at the Crucified One and not get this essential point? The Resurrected Christ is the icon of the third box or reorder.
There is no direct flight from order to reorder; you must go through disorder, which is surely why Jesus dramatically and shockingly endured it on the cross.”
From “Daily e-Meditations” by Fr. Richard Rohr; 12/6/16

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven …” so writes the prophet in Ecclesiastes. We know our time together will be changing, ending in some ways but not in others. Together we can move through the Three Boxes. Together, we will move to a place and time of disorder to allow space and to see what has been, what is now, and then to reorder in the ways we will go onward. Together, might we hold before us those words in front of the journals of Dag Hammarskjold – “For all that has been, THANK YOU! For all that we be and becoming, YES!” Together, with honored and deeply held PATIENCE, Love will lead us home.

With gratefulness always, your servant in Christ

Fr. Paul+