Pastor's Corner and Worship Links


Peace Amid the Messiness

posted Dec 2, 2022, 7:42 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Grace and peace to you in this season of Advent!


This week I was recalling a time when some of my clergy colleagues were sitting around a table discussing what we loved most about Christmas time. Some of my friends just rolled their eyes and groaned. Complaints of the superficiality of this season, the consumerism of Christmas, the hoop-la that begins as early as October, were plentiful, except for me. I playfully chided them, saying how much I loved “Baby Jesus time.” But my love of this season is not without a realistic and pragmatic sigh. With all of the sorrow-producing experiences we’ve had this year, for some of us individually, and indeed for our world, I recognize that sometimes it’s hard to preach hope and peace. It may ring hollow to grieving ears, especially for those who are experiencing a deep sense of loneliness in a season that is telling them to “be of good cheer.”


But still . . .


Jamie and I put up our Christmas tree on Monday, and as the smell of pine filled the house, and the lights on the tree shined through the front window for all passersby to witness, I remembered the reason to hope — Christ came into this world so that peace could finally be with us. This is why I feel so much joy at this time of year. Advent is a journey of waiting, watching, preparing, and groaning with expectation for our lives to be guided by a God who came all the way down to earth to show us how much we are loved. As Romans 8.22-24 reminds us, We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait . . .  For in hope we were saved.


As we continue our Advent journey toward that dusty stable with loud, smelly animals, let us wait for peace to be born in that messiness, and amid our world's messiness. Let us wait for peace, and act out the peace that surpasses all understanding, given to us in Christ Jesus. So, in the spirit of Advent, I’m going to continue to wait, expecting for God to show up and show us the way toward peace. But I’m not only going to wait for peace to happen because peace begins with us — it happens through the life we live, the words we use, and the worship we give. How are we going to wait and listen and pray and act?


As God used the prophets and people from old – Elizabeth, Zechariah, Joseph, and Mary – to bring about the life of a boy that would be the prophet of the Most High, and then a babe who would bring peace to the world, let us be peacemakers now, shining a light in the messy darkness. 


Come this Second Sunday of Advent at 10:30 AM in person or on Facebook live to celebrate the God of peace with your church family. Christine Dillaman, Angela Hank, and Lisa Van Savage will light our Advent Candle of Peace. Our Joyful Noise Adult Choir will be singing the anthem, “An Advent Credo.” I will be preaching from Isaiah 11.1-10 and my sermon title is Peace is Rising. In addition, we will gather around God’s table of welcome and grace as we celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. And after worship, come up the hill to the Education Building for our delicious First Sunday brunch as we extend the feast of the Lord’s table to another table. A free-will offering will be received to support the ministries of the church.


A gentle reminder: as this is flu season and Covid still lingers among us, if you are not feeling well, please stay home and watch church online. This is for the health of you and for the safety of others. Thank you for your cooperation.


Beloved, this Sunday is another Sabbath God has given us to live and to love. Let us not miss the opportunity to worship together and pray: Let there be peace, and may we be filled with expectation, as we celebrate the greatest gift of all: the One who brings hope, peace, joy, and love to our world.


In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish

Worship Link for November 27: First Sunday of Advent

posted Nov 29, 2022, 7:41 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace! Here is the link to our First Sunday of Advent worship: https://youtu.be/y42bcwnbR6A

Come one and all! Our Third Annual Lighting of the Church Family Christmas Tree is this Saturday, December 3 at 4:30 PM. Bring an ornament to hang on the tree as we celebrate the season of Advent together. Cookies and hot cocoa will be served in the Lower Auditorium afterwards. See you then!

Blessings of Advent hope for your week,

Pastor Trish

A Thrill of Hope

posted Nov 25, 2022, 10:57 AM by Tricia Sheffield


Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


The Peace of Christ be with you!


First, I pray you had a blessed Thanksgiving filled with delicious food, joyful company, all the while surrounded by generous love. We continue to give thanks as we enter Advent this Sunday — a season of waiting, expectation, and hope — when God became what we are to make us what God is. Emmanuel, God with us is the greatest gift we could ever receive.


Second, we have a very special offering this Advent for our Adult Education called A Thrill of Hope: Hearing God’s Voice Through the Angels of Advent led by our pastoral intern, Grace Modla (see image above). All in the community are welcomed to this learning event; it’s not just for MRC members. So, please invite those whom you think would be interested in this time of scripture, discussion, and art making. In addition, Grace is preaching this Sunday and her Internship Teaching Committee — Dolores Hofmann, Bob Kinley, and Lisa Leidecker — will lead worship with her. Come and support Grace as she brings us the word. 


Last, they are predicting rain for this Sunday and we are hoping and hoping (Hope is the theme for the First Sunday of Advent, after all!) that the rain will hold off so we can have our Third Annual Church Family Christmas Tree lighting at 4:30. Please bring a non-breakable ornament to hang on the tree. That said, if we do have inclement weather our rain date for the tree lighting will be December 4. Look for an email/Facebook post from me on Sunday afternoon to see if the event is on for that day or not.


I look forward to warmly welcoming you to church in person or on Facebook live this First Sunday of Advent. Nancy Coffin is our featured soloist singing “Imagine” and “All Earth is Waiting.” Grace is preaching from Romans 13.11-14 and Matthew 24.36-44 and her sermon title is The Waiting is the Hardest Part. 


A gentle reminder: as this is flu season and Covid still lingers among us, if you are not feeling well, please stay home and watch church online. This is for the health of you and for the safety of others. Thank you for your cooperation.


In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish

Giving Thanks

posted Nov 23, 2022, 5:43 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


The peace of Christ Be with you!


From our family to yours, may you feel the presence of God as you gather around the table to enjoy a sacred meal with family and friends. And for those who will have an empty chair at their table this year, may the Holy Spirit comfort you in the presence of your loss. A blessed and happy Thanksgiving to you, beloved of God.


“Thank you”


Thank you
for food to share
for family
for friends
for smiles and stories.


Thank you
for sunshine and snow
for stars
for moonlight
for frost on windows.

Thank you
for good books
and music
for posters and paintings
and sculpture on the streets . . .

Thank you
for making me, me.
Thank you for being you.
Thanks for hope
and tears
and laughter.

Generous giver,
breath of life,

God of love
and surprises,
thank you.
  — Ruth Burgess



You are loved,

Pastor Trish and Jamie

A Diaphanous Scrim of Wing

posted Nov 18, 2022, 6:19 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Grace and peace to you as we enter the last Sunday in the liturgical year.


Beloved MRC member, are you paying attention?


A few weeks ago I was sitting out back feeding the squirrels. Back and forth they came to get the goodness of peanuts. After a while, they went away, so I reached over and picked up my phone to mindlessly scroll. As I did I heard a whoosh, and looked up in time to see our local red-tailed hawk come flying in next to the bird feeder, her wings extended in all their glory. And as quickly as she had come, she was off soaring into the heavens. This all happened about ten feet from me. I sat back in my chair, heart pounding, and muttered a feeble, “Oh.” That’s all I could manage to say for the next five minutes.


Rachel Held Evans wrote, “The Spirit is like a bird, fragile alloy of heaven and earth, where wind and feather and flight meet breath and blood and bones. The rabbis imagined her as a pigeon, the Celts a wild goose. Like a dove, she glided over the primordial waters, hovered above Mary’s womb, and descended onto Jesus’ dripping wet head. She protected Israel like an eagle, and like a hen, brooded over her chicks. ‘Hide me in the shadow of your wings,’ the poet king wrote. ‘Because you are my help, I sing to the shadow of your wings’ (Psalm 17.8, 63.7). The Spirit is as common as a cooing pigeon and transcendent as a high-flying eagle. So look up and sing back, catch the light of God in a diaphanous scrim of wing. Pay attention.”


Had I chosen to bury my face in my phone, I might have missed the hawk’s arrival —we’ve named her Artemis — and the gift of seeing such a majestic creature of God in her hunt and flight. I’m glad the Spirit prodded me that day to pay attention.


Come to church in person or on Facebook live this Reign of Christ Sunday, the end of the liturgical year. Tom Martucci will be leading us in music and song as we worship God. I am preaching from Jeremiah 23.1-6 and Luke 23.33-43 and my sermon title is A King Between Two Criminals. In addition, we have the joy of welcoming into the Church Universal through the Sacrament of Baptism Peyton Carol Williamson. 


A gentle reminder: as this is flu season and Covid still lingers among us, if you are not feeling well, please stay home and watch church online. This is for the good of you and for the safety of others. Thank you for your cooperation.


It’s going to be a glorious Sunday as the Spirit moves among us. So, let’s pay attention.



In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish



Here is the link to our Stewardship Sunday worship:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLorX8uVjaQ&t=14s


Worship Link for All Saints Sunday, November 6

posted Nov 11, 2022, 6:10 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace! Here is the link to our All Saints Sunday worship: https://youtu.be/6LDQBd-zL0E

The Lord bless you and keep you. I look forward to welcoming you to worship on Sunday.

Pastor Trish

A Stewardship Story

posted Nov 11, 2022, 6:03 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Grace and peace to you in this season of Ordinary Time!


This Sunday is Stewardship Sunday, and instead of hearing from me words I would normally write at this time, I invited MRC member and Co-treasurer Cindy Reya to share her stewardship story with you all.


Forty years ago, when our son was only 4, I began the search for a church with a wonderful Sunday School. While Lloyd and I both had attended church for many years when younger, we had slipped away during our years as young adults. Fortunately, our best friends had three boys who had attended MRC Sunday School and were very happy with it. One day I stopped by MRC when Steve was in school and found the pastor’s wife Linda Coventry.  She was home for lunch from her full time job and took the time to give me a tour of the “campus” including the beautiful education building. I was sold!

A wonderful relationship developed between us and the church as I went on to serve on Consistory several times, type bulletins on the old mimeograph paper and run off on the mimeograph machine in the janitor’s closet. Somehow I found myself as treasurer and vice-president over the years. In the beginning, I didn’t understand anything about stewardship. When I went to church, I looked at my $5 donation as sort of an admission fee. If I attended, I came up with the “fee” and if I didn’t, I got to keep the “fee,” thinking I could go out to lunch with it, buy a book or a toy, many options. At the time, $5 was all we could afford. When Rev. Coventry talked about donations, I sort of tuned out.  Fortunately as time went on, we were able to increase our "fee" each week and were able to pay it even on Sundays when we were not there. It took a long time to understand that all those expenses continue whether we are there or not. Now I hear Pastor Trish  talk about the electric and gas bills, and I listen a lot harder. Part of my job as Co-treasurer now is to pay all the bills. Believe it or not, there are more now than when I first came to MRC. In addition to electric and gas, there is snow plowing, grass mowing, insurance bills, denominational assessments on every member, copy machine, salaries and benefits, and internet service for all three buildings. There are also constant repairs on three old buildings. Yes, even the education building is getting old.  

I’ve learned not to look at my donations as a “fee” but something I am happy and proud to do for our wonderful church. Everyone here is so very generous, and your generosity makes my job much easier. Thank you all for your monetary donations and your volunteer time over the years. There are many ways to donate. Blessings to you all as we plan for 2023!

Thank you, Cindy, for such an inspiring story! And allow me to echo her thankfulness for your continued generosity to the ministries of God’s church. 

Come to church in person or on Facebook live this Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost to worship a God who calls us to live generously. Tom Martucci will be leading us in music and song. I am preaching from Isaiah 65.17-25 and my sermon title is Living Generously.


I give thanks for you everyday as you inspire me to live generously!


In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish

Cloud of Witnesses

posted Nov 4, 2022, 9:20 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Grace and peace to you in this season of Ordinary Time!


Writer, artist, and ordained minister Jan Richardson wrote regarding All Saints Day: “I am thinking especially of those who have lost beloved ones since this time last year. And I am thinking always of those who have carried grief for a long time. I am grateful that the sacred calendar provides these days to do what so many of us do throughout the year: to remember beloved ones who are no longer here but who somehow journey with us still.”


Yes, beloved, we still travel together with those we have lost. And in this oftentimes lonely traveling of ours the presence of their absence is thick, but we live in hope because of a strong truth. As Easter people, we look to the resurrection, for one day God will swallow up death forever, and God will wipe away the tears from all our faces.

  

So, come to church with hope in your heart in person or on Facebook Live this All Saints Sunday as we remember those we have lost in the last year. Nancy Coffin will be leading us in music and will sing “You Are Mine” for the Prelude. I am preaching from Ephesians 1.11-23 and my sermon title is We Still Travel Together. Our intern Grace Modla has prepared a special art installation called “Cloud of Witnesses” that you will see in our sanctuary. In addition, we will gather around the table as we celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper and be joined by all the saints of the past — Jesus, his disciples, the early church and the centuries after, along with those who built MRC and sat in the pews before us. The past saints and now we, the living saints joined together in worship and the Lord’s Sacrament. After worship, we will continue God’s feast in the Education Building with our First Sunday brunch. A free-will offering will be received to support the ministries of the church.


In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish

Worship Link for October and a Celebration!

posted Nov 2, 2022, 7:24 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace! Here is the worship link to our Reformation/Reconciliation Sunday worship: https://youtu.be/FL9IQLdd2-0.

In addition, we have a celebration this morning! As I type this email, Brown's is here beginning the installation of our air-conditioning units in the sanctuary. Thanks be to God! And allow me to thank you for your generous donations that made this important project happen. Please know if you haven't given yet, and would like to give the AC Fund, we are still accepting donations.

Thank you, thank you, Fabulous Church of Love!

Pastor Trish

Joyful, Joyful!

posted Oct 28, 2022, 6:33 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Grace and peace to you in this season of Ordinary Time!


One person said, “Gratitude may be the best measure of our spirituality. It demonstrates that we’ve been paying attention to the grace we received in Jesus Christ, who has restored God’s image in us.”


This Sunday — Reformation Sunday — we will have the joy-filled opportunity to celebrate the truth of the above quote — that it is by grace we are saved through faith.   


So, come to church in a spirit of gratitude in person or on Facebook Live. The Joyful Noise Adult Choir will be singing “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” for the Anthem. I am preaching from Luke 19.1-10 and my sermon title is Unexpected Grace. After worship and coffee hour, I am excited to announce that, in partnership with a local Cub Scout Pack, we will be installing and dedicating a Little Free Pantry across the street from the church at 12 PM. For those who plan to attend, please bring a nonperishable item to store in the pantry. This has been a dream long in the making and it is finally coming true. MRC beloveds, I am so thankful we are able to partner with others and help end hunger in our area. The Little Free Pantry is a strong witness to our being the hands and feet of Christ in our community.


It’s all about gratitude — joyful, joyful!


In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish

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