Pastor's Corner and Sermons


Third Sunday after the Epiphany Worship Link

posted Jan 24, 2021, 1:05 PM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace to you!

For those who were unable to be online this morning, here is the link to our Sunday worship for January 24: https://youtu.be/CO9-X5rHi2Q

May the remainder of your Sabbath be holy and restful,

Pastor Trish

Light-Bearers

posted Jan 22, 2021, 11:39 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Blessings of Epiphany light and joy to you. I hope you are continuing to stay safe and healthy in these challenging times of ours. And yet, despite the challenge, here are some encouraging words:


When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade . . .

When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.

The new dawn balloons as we free it.

For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it. —Amanda Gorman


I look forward to gathering online with you as people of Christ’s light and love at 10:15 AM to chat with one another, and then worship together at 10:30 AM via Zoom or on our YouTube channel. Nancy Coffin is our featured soloist and she will be singing “Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore” and “Blest be the Tie That Binds.” I will be preaching from Jonah 3.1-5, 10 and Mark 1.14-20 and my sermon title is It’s Called Grace.  Also, we will hold our annual congregational meeting at the end of worship where we will learn about the ministry our small groups and committees have accomplished in 2020, and vote on our budget and Consistory nominations.


It’s going to be a day of joy when we are together on Sunday as the people of God!


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


Pastor Trish

Second Sunday after the Epiphany Worship Link

posted Jan 17, 2021, 11:31 AM by Tricia Sheffield   [ updated Jan 17, 2021, 11:32 AM ]

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace to you. For those who were unable to be with us online this morning, here is the link to our Second Sunday after the Epiphany worship:

May your Sabbath be holy and restful, and may we have peace and calm in our country in the coming week, and afterwards.

Blessings of Epiphany light,

Pastor Trish

My Prayer Mantra for 2021

posted Jan 15, 2021, 10:08 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Blessings of Epiphany light to you. I hope you are continuing to stay safe and healthy.


Early in the month, Ms. Judy and I met to discuss worship for January and February, including Lent. I told her then I wanted to wait and listen for the Holy Spirit with regard to our Lenten theme. I also said I wished to listen to you all, and discern what you needed spiritually as we journey together toward the cross and the resurrection. For certainly, didn't 2020 seem like a year of perpetual Lent with the pandemic? I questioned with Judy, what would 2021 bring us? Where would we be with Covid as a community and more largely, as a nation, in February when Lent began? Oddly, I could feel a sense of hope beginning to rise inside me, even seeing a glimmer of light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.


Then came last Wednesday and the vicious attack on the Capitol and our democracy, resulting in the death of five people, and all I could feel was holy anger. Holy anger at the display of a form of toxic Christianity in which I grew up — that ended up with me leaving the church because of it — taken to its violent extreme. Holy anger at seeing a Confederate flag carried around in our Capitol, alongside banners with Jesus’ name being waved outside. Witnessing the mob, my holy anger took me back to a time when the message of my religion was one based solely on guilt, eternal damnation, and fear of God's wrath. I hovered between holy anger and grief last week, and it pained me, for I believe in being a person of faith who shines the light of God’s joy and grace. And then I read something during my sermon study this week — 


But they believed and hoped more powerfully than they grieved.


This statement by esteemed Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann has been my prayer mantra since Tuesday. I’m not there yet, in believing and hoping more powerfully than grieving, but I’m getting there. I want to be there. It’s about even now. And I’m trusting God to take me to the other side. As we hear that more attacks around the nation are planned for this weekend, I am praying — without ceasing — that the peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding and the love that Christ showed while he was on earth will finally come to this world.


Let us gather online as people of Christ’s peace and love at 10:15 AM to chat with one another, and then worship together at 10:30 AM via Zoom or on our YouTube channel. As always, our music is sure to bless your soul. Dan Hillyer is our featured soloist and he will be singing “I’ll Walk with God” and “Here I Am, Lord.” I will be preaching from 1 Samuel 3.1-10 and John 1.43-51 and my sermon title is We Are Called. 


Because Christ came to make all things new, I continue to pray, But they believed and hoped more powerfully than they grieved. Perhaps you will pray it with me too.


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


Pastor Trish

Baptism of the Lord Sunday Worship Link

posted Jan 10, 2021, 2:51 PM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace to you. If you were unable to be with us online this morning, here is the link for our Sunday worship. And a very special thank you to Mark Poyner for guest preaching today while I was on Sabbath rest.

https://youtu.be/G7CRSJBa71Q

Blessings of Epiphany light,

Pastor Trish

Epiphany of the Lord Sunday Worship Links

posted Jan 3, 2021, 10:47 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace to you!

If you were unable to join us online this morning, here is the link to our Epiphany of the Lord Sunday worship: https://youtu.be/MiE53-j86rs
Also, please see this link for our Handbell Choir and New Jericho Choir ringing and singing for the Epiphany of the Lord: https://youtu.be/U4eEqo4pPfI

I am grateful to the Consistory that I am able to go on vacation starting tomorrow, January 4. Minister Mark Poyner will be preaching January 10 and will be on call for pastoral emergencies. (Thank you, Mark!)

Beloved, as I turn off social media and other devices to rest and rejuvenate, I will be praying that you will remain safe and healthy while I unplug. I look forward to being back with you on January 11 as we continue to do the ministry to which God has called us.

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

Pastor Trish

I Shall Miss the Stars

posted Jan 1, 2021, 9:25 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Happy New Year to you, and a big hallelujah hello and welcome to 2021!


All week I have been reading, studying, and thinking about a poem by Madeleine L’Engle called “One King’s Epiphany.” 


I shall miss the stars.

Not that I shall stop looking

as they pattern their wild will each night

across an inchoate sky, but I must see them with a different awe.

If I trace their flames’ ascending and descending –

relationships and correspondences –

then I deny what they have just revealed.

The sum of their oppositions, juxtapositions, led me to the end of all sums:

a long journey, cold, dark and uncertain,

toward the ultimate equation.

How can I understand? If I turn back from this,

compelled to seek all answers in the stars,

then this – Who – they have led me to

is not the One they said: they will have lied.


No stars are liars!

My life on their truth!

If they had lied about this

I could never trust their power again.


But I believe they showed the truth,

truth breathing,

truth Whom I have touched with my own hands,

worshipped with my gifts.

If I have bowed, made

obeisance to this final arithmetic,

I cannot ask the future from the stars without betraying

the One whom they have led me to.


It will be hard not ask, just once again,

see by mathematical forecast where he will grow,

where go, what kingdom conquer, what crown wear.

But would it not be going beyond truth

(the obscene reductio ad absurdum)

to lose my faith in truth once, and once for all

revealed in the full dayspring of the sun?


I cannot go back to night.

O Truth, O small and unexpected thing,

You have taken so much from me.

How can I bear wisdom’s pain?

But I have been shown: and I have seen.


Yes. I shall miss the stars.


 

I shall miss the stars. There is a feeling of mourning in this line, and yet, it also has a sense of awe-inspired wonder. As I’ve been thinking about this Wise King, I wonder what was so powerful about his encounter with the Christ Child that would compel him to leave his life-long profession as an astrologer? What knowledge was revealed to him as he touched the child and worshiped him? Whatever happened to him in that moment, it was strong enough for him to live in the “full dayspring of the sun.” No more tracing the lights across the night sky to divine what was to be; no longer measuring the equations of glimmering dots in an inky sea of blackness; no more sleeping during the day in order to study the mysteries of the night — and what those mysteries would reveal for the future. The stars he had loved and trusted for so long led him to incarnate Truth, and the studied future became a Holy now. 


Let us gather online this Sunday at 10:15 AM to chat with one another, and then worship together at 10:30 AM via Zoom or on our YouTube channel. Judith Daugherty will be playing three pieces,  "How Brightly Shines the Morning Star,” organ; “We Three Kings,” organ; and “The Huron Carol,” piano. I will be preaching a narrative sermon based on the experience of this one Wise King who visited the Christ Child in Bethlehem. My sermon title is By Another Road. We will celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper so please have bread and juice/wine with you during worship. 


In addition, here is the link for last night’s At Year’s End - Vespers for Hope: https://youtu.be/tRQFtMQNnZY


Please note I will be on vacation January 4 -10. If you have a pastoral emergency, please contact Minister Mark Poyner at 908-675-1498.


Beloved, I so look forward to worshiping with you in 2021. May the Christmas Star continue to guide us in this new year.


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


Pastor Trish

Worship Link for December 27: First Sunday after Christmas

posted Dec 27, 2020, 11:26 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,

For those who were unable to join us online this morning, here is the link to the First Sunday after Christmas worship: https://youtu.be/af-Nm92MVe0

Christmas blessings to you, and prayers for a happy and healthy New Year,

Pastor Trish

Christmas Eve Worship

posted Dec 24, 2020, 7:55 PM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,
If you were unable to join us this evening for Christmas Eve worship, here is the link to our worship: https://youtu.be/K-hYnX-oiPY
May your Christmas be beautiful, safe, healthy, and wondrous. You are loved.

Blessings of hope, peace, joy, and love,

Pastor Trish

Worship Link for December 20: Fourth Sunday of Advent

posted Dec 20, 2020, 12:24 PM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

For those who were unable to be with us on Zoom or livestream, here is the link for this morning's worship:

https://youtu.be/998E9TfOvQY

Blessings of Advent love,

Pastor Trish

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