Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Outreach Painting Project

On Saturday, September 24, twenty-one people gathered to paint 2 classrooms and a nursery at Happy Workers Children's Center.  The folllowing people were present Richard Davis, Rene Clark, Pete & Toni Calabrese, Ted Steinwender, Wade & Mack Hamby, Cris & Liz Stiles, Bill McMahon, Burrell Woods, Gloria Ellinwood, Steve & Emily McMullen, Canterbury students - Maria Rodriguez, Caroline Richstein, Virginia Wallace and Sophie Fulllerton, and Derek Cooper of Omega Psi Phi and two of his Fraternity brothers.  Fun mixed with work made the day successful and joyful.  There was even time for muffins and coffee in the morning and pizzas and sodas for lunch.

Submitted by Rene Clark

Monday, September 26, 2011

Women of the Word

In our continued study of Exodus, we see a qualitative change from Genesis,
which is largely a descriptive account of the family dynamics and background of
the Israelites. In Exodus, God is the force and hero of the story.

God actively sought Moses' attention with fire in a bush on Mount Horeb. When
He called Moses in
chapter 3:4, Moses' response, much like Abraham, Jacob andSamuel, was "here I am." The patriarchs were all present and open to God's
call. God's presence turned the ordinary land on Mount Horeb into a holy and
sacred space. As such, it was to be set apart during this divine conversation. God
required Moses to remove his sandals.

Moses was having an identity crisis. He was an Israelite by birth, but raised as an
Egyptian. He had killed an Egyptian and had run from Pharaoh 's wrath, but was
not accepted by the Israelites. He was living with his new family in the land of
Midian, far away from both. In the encounter on Mount Horeb, God immediately
cleared up any confusion Moses may have had regarding his identity. "I am the
God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob."
He leaves no room for doubt. God then laid out the plans for Moses' fellow
Israelites: they needed to be rescued, God would do the rescuing, and Moses
would be the agent of that rescue.

But Moses didn't want the job.

Moses had 5 objections:
1. Who am I that I should go? God answered that He would be with Moses

2. What is your name? God's response was a verb: Ehyeh asher ehyeh (Hebrew), I AM
WHAT I AM. God's name is not static, but active. Moses' attempts to control God by naming
Him were unsuccessful.

3. What if they don't believe me? God demonstrated His power with signs (i.e., turning
Moses' staff into a snake, Moses' hand leprous)

4. I am slow of speech God told Moses that He made Moses, and reassured that He would
be the force behind Moses' speech

5. Send someone else God finally became angry with Moses, yet He provided Moses with
his brother Aaron to assist him in his new job as representative of God's agenda

submitted by Gina White

Monday, September 19, 2011

Murmuring to God

9/19/11 Sermon Notes

The Reverend Lisa Hamilton gave a sermon in Sunday’s Harmony Service from Exodus 16:2-15.      She described how depending on the translation, the Israelites were either “murmuring,” “complaining,” or “grumbling” about having been brought into the wilderness.  Superficially, it is easy to conclude that God doesn’t like murmuring…part of being a Christian is being “polite.” 

Rev. Lisa explained that God wants us to share everything – even our least polite moods.   Even though God knows how we already feel, He rejoices when we offer our tears, our frustrations, our joys.    Of course, it isn’t healthy in any community setting – a church, a family, a school, a business – to whine in whispers instead of discussing an issue with a person or people who can help figure out a solution. 

Rev. Lisa suggested that too often, we forget to bring God in the conversation, although of course God is already present.  She doesn’t believe we human beings can have a concern too small, a feeling too petty, an idea too wild, that God doesn’t want to know about it.  So murmur away, but start with God.  Then ask for guidance.  Prayer will help steer us toward addressing the conflict in a healthy way rather than complaining in a way that is unhealthy gossip.

The focus of the sermon was then turned to God’s provision of bread or manna (Rev. Lisa observed it was not called manna in this particular passage).   “Manna” can be translated as “what is it?” In other words, this bread was beautiful and delicious.   She noted that a rabbinic tradition says manna miraculously tasted like the taster’s favorite food.  A bread that could only be called “what is it?”,  manna is delicious beyond words, but it is just what the Israelites need - even though they couldn’t name it!  Not knowing exactly what they were eating probably felt somewhat disorienting to the Israelites, who were already disoriented – literally – they’d been wandering in the desert for a month or so at this point in the story – and spiritually and emotionally, too.  What did God want from them, anyway?  Why had they been released from slavery?  And what were they meant to find?  Where were they and where were they headed?  Who could they trust?

Rev Lisa questioned whether many of our parishioners might be feeling a little disoriented concerning the future of St. Thomas at the moment.  We might still be feeling surprised at Father Chris’ decision to leave St. Thomas.   Some might just be feeling settled from the last time a rector departed.  Many may not be as clear as we thought we were a few months ago regarding St. Thomas’ present and future.

So this is a good time to revisit Exodus, and to reflect on the Israelites’ experience.  Maybe God is giving us just what we need in today’s reading from Exodus.  In the coming weeks or months, if we are feeling disoriented or confused, remember to ask God for guidance and murmur to Him first. 

Remember that God will provide – sometimes in the most surprising ways.

posted by m white

Women of the Word - 9/15/2011

Exodus 1:1 – 2:22


Most of what we know about Moses has been shaped by either Cecil B. DeMille’s Ten Commandments or Walt Disney’s Prince of Egypt.  There is even a course in seminary called “Moses at the Movies.”  

Exodus, like much of the Torah, was written during the Babylonian Exile, when Jewish leaders feared that the Diaspora would lead to a loss of the oral tradition with Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of the Temple. 

What is important for us to remember is that Genesis is the story of the foundation of the tribe; Exodus is the story of those disparate tribes coalescing to become a people.  God is the hero of Exodus, not Moses.  In every case throughout the telling of this story, God heard, God saw, God rescued.

The Birth and Exile of Moses

            The first five verses of Exodus reiterate the genealogy of Jacob’s children given at the end of the Book of Genesis and paint a picture of a prolific and powerful subculture in Egyptian society.  Their number is given as “seventy,” which, rather than being literal, is a priestly sign of completeness.   Then a “new king ascended the throne of Egypt, one who knew nothing of Joseph.”  (Egypt was for several hundred years ruled by an Asian dynasty of Hyksos kings, and it was during this time that Joseph and his Hebrew tribes were welcome.  The Hyksos were eventually overthrown by a native dynasty, and it is from this group that the abovementioned king came.  Although he is nameless in the Biblical passage, most historians assume he is Rameses II, who took the throne around 1300 BCE.) 

            The king, worried about the growing numbers of the Israelites and fearful that their loyalty in wartime may lay elsewhere, started to oppress the Hebrews, herding them into forced labor gangs and reducing them to slavery.  (An irony is that the Hebrew slaves were forced to build several storehouse cities, just as Joseph had done for an earlier Pharaoh during the seven years of plenty foretold in his dream [Gen. 41:25-45].)  Seeing that this method failed to reduce the Hebrew population, Pharaoh then enacted harsher measures.  He commanded the Hebrew midwives to kill any male child at birth but to allow a female child to live.  The midwives, however, were “God-fearing women,” and, through trickery, disobeyed the king.  “So God made the midwives prosper, and the people increased in number and in strength.”  Pharaoh, desperate, then sent out a national edict that all newborn Hebrew males were to be killed (foreshadowing the New Testament’s Slaughter of the Innocents [Matthew 2:16]).

            Chapter 2 begins with the marriage of Moses’ parents, who were of the Levite (Priestly) tribe.  The mother hides the boy for three months, then, when concealment is no longer possible, she places him in a reed basket in the bulrushes at the edge of the Nile.  Pharaoh’s daughter, bathing in the river, finds the child, recognizes him as a Hebrew baby, and “filled with pity for it,” she agrees to his sister’s (who has been hiding nearby)

suggestion that a wet nurse be summoned.  The child’s mother takes him until he is weaned and then brings him to the palace, where Pharaoh’s daughter adopts him and calls him Moses, an Egyptian name meaning “to draw out” with the suffix –es denoting “son.”

            The story jumps from Moses’ days as an infant to adulthood (verse 11), where it says that he “went out to his own kinsmen and saw them at their heavy labor.”  (Evidently he knew his background, and life in the palace had not diminished his identification with his tribe or his people.)  He kills an Egyptian overseer for striking one of the Hebrew laborers and hides the body; however, the next day he is threatened with exposure by the Hebrews (one would think they would be grateful; this may be a foreshadowing of complaints in the wilderness), and Pharaoh sets out to kill him, forcing him to flee over the border to the land of Midian.

There Moses stops by a well where the daughters of the priest of Midian go to draw water for their father’s sheep.  Harassed by some shepherds, the girls are defended by Moses who waters their sheep himself.  When their father learns of his kindness, he invites Moses into his household and, eventually, gives him his daughter, Zipporah, in marriage.  They have a son, Gershom, whose name loosely means “sojourner in an alien place.”   

Wells and water rights are a recurring theme throughout Genesis and Exodus, as is the concept of a “sojourner.”  Israelite law will protect the “stranger within thy gates,” a reminder that for many generations they were, in Egypt and later in Babylon, “strangers in a strange land.”   

Submitted by Karilyn Jaap

Watch Us Grow

Come to the Ministry Fair 2011

Join us for a celebration of St. Thomas' many ministries. 
Sunday, September 25th
8:30am - 12:00pm
Parish Hall

Coffee hour available throughout the morning.  Don't miss the wonderful displays and wealth of information.  If you are new to our Parish, this is a must!

Show Me God is Real...Where Scripture Meets Everyday Life

Greeting Parents,

This month is shaping up to be a wonderful experience for our children,
not to mention a ton of FUN!

*      We send a HUGE THANK YOU to Lauren White and all of our Sunday
School Crew for their participation in the Service last Sunday. The 9-11
Prayer, as it has now been titled, has drawn many wonderful comments
from all and was a very special part of a very special service.

*      We also were able to complete FLAG cards to send off for our
deployed servicemen and the policemen and firefighters of NYC.

*      Filming began to create our Wish You Well DVD that we hope to
send with our cards and packages to those mentioned above. We will be
creating video all throughout the month of September as different
children join us.

*      This week we will begin collecting items for the packages that
will be sent off to the loved ones of our St Thomas family serving our
country. Attached is a list of items that would be appropriate to ship
at this time of the year. We'll have bins ready and waiting!

*      This past Sunday was Sandwich Sunday. This is one of the items the kids
listed as a priority project throughout the year. We will have our
regular Sunday School hour at 9:00, join the service at the offertory
and then join in on sandwich making as soon as the service ends. We
invite all Sunday School families to join us and make this ministry a
huge success.
Thank you to our Sunday School Team for making
this happen for our kids

See you Sunday..You ROCK!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Thank You!

St. Thomas wishes to thank Chef Gerard Marquetty for his excellent culinary delights at the Supper, Song & Prayer dinner Wednesday, September 14th.  It was a spectacular feast with Gerard's entrees and everyone who brought side dishes, desserts and beverages.  It truly was a grand evening!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Those Who Chose to Jump

Many have asked for a copy of Helen Wallace's poem from Father Chris' sermon on Sunday and Helen has graciously consented for us to post it here.   This poem was published in 2007 by Ashland Poetry in Helen's book, Shimming the Glass House which was the winner of the 2007 Richard Snyder Publication Prize.

Those Who Chose to Jump

               The Twin Towers, 2001

Did you trace

   your children’s names

        in ash imagining

their new class photos

    the disheveled

        sweet wisps of hair

and did you despite

    smoky fumes smell again

        the coconut lathered

on your back at the pool

    your mother in a

        wide-brimmed hat

your sister sporting

     orange water wings

         and you age four poised

to attempt a perfect dive

    your body leaning forward

         toes curled around the hot tile

And there reaching out

    toward all that blue—

         your father’s arms

Monday, September 12, 2011

Into our Father’s Arms

Father Chris gave his last sermon as rector of St. Thomas on a very special 9/11 10th anniversary service. The service featured a beautiful music arrangement, including a solo by Louis Yardumian opening the service with “Surely the Presence of the Lord is in this Place.” And Father Chris took on the challenging topic of the meaning of 9/11 noting that his wife Bettina was at that time at the 10th anniversary services at ground zero inNew York City comforting a friend who had lost her son in the 9/11 attacks.

Father Chris began his sermon by explaining that we are all interconnected, the world is at order, and that the goodness of God can be seen even in something as difficult as 9/11…that we bless ourselves when we invite God into our every situation and emotion. If we do this he will sanctify and make us whole no matter the situation….this is how we can be unified (noting that President Obama read Bettina’s favorite Psalm, chapter 46, at the ceremony this morning).

Fr. Chris continued by acknowledging that we all feel helpless watching replays of the buildings falling, but he also reminded us that every one of the last messages and phone calls ended with “I love you.” Most were serene and calm and many spent time reassuring their loved ones even in the face of death…no one “wasted” their last message…they were effectively affirming the goodness of life even as their lives were ending. With God’s grace, we can all face whatever hardships life will bring us with this kind of calm and bravery.

Fr. Chris then asked Dav Mosby to read a beautiful and haunting poem by Helen Pruitt Wallace. The poem, “Those Who Chose to Jump,” transforms the horrific environment that was facing those who were stuck in upper floors of the World Trade Center as the building burned into a pleasant memory of a 4-year-old.  Standing on the edge of a burning building staring into a blue sky becomes standing on the edge of a hot tiled deck staring out at an expanse of blue pool…ending with a faith-filled first dive into the blue, into a waiting Father’s arms. Reflecting on the connectivity between these events, Father Chris challenged the congregation to figuratively seek to be crucified with Christ.  We take our fears, judgments, jealousies, obsessions, hatred and anger and lift it to God for transformation. This is the essence of Christianity. We should desire the crucifixion and days like this give us insight into our eternal life. At some point, we will all be jumping into the blue…and when we do, we can go with the same kind of serenity and confidence that we will be going into our Father’s arms.

posted by m white