Pastor's Corner and Sermons


Worship Link for June 20

posted by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace to you!

For those who were unable to be in worship this Sunday, here is the link to our Fourth Sunday after Pentecost worship: https://youtu.be/cgG6qK8DUMc

Blessings of joy for the coming week,

Pastor Trish

A Voice in the Whirlwind

posted Jun 18, 2021, 10:19 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Blessings of Pentecost joy be with you!


This week on a Zoom meeting, a colleague read a poem by Mary Oliver called “Maybe.” It’s based on the gospel Scripture reading for this Sunday — the story of Jesus rebuking the wind and calming the sea with three simple words, “Peace! Be still!” I offer the poem to you as a means to reflect on the Scripture before Sunday, and as a way to listen and pay attention to the “tender and luminous and demanding” Voice in the whirlwind. As one person writes, “In this famous poem, Mary Oliver captured the emotions of the disciples after Jesus rebuked the wind of a deadly storm, and caused the waves to be still. The gospel of Mark reports “They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!‘” (Global Christian Worship)


“Maybe” (Mary Oliver)

Sweet Jesus, talking

   his melancholy madness,

      stood up in the boat

         and the sea lay down,


silky and sorry,

   So everybody was saved

      that night.

         But you know how it is


when something

   different crosses

      the threshold — the uncles

         mutter together,


the women walk away,

   the young brother begins

      to sharpen his knife.

         Nobody knows what the soul is.


It comes and goes

   like the wind over the water —

      sometimes, for days,

         you don’t think of it.


Maybe, after the sermon,

   after the multitude was fed,

      one or two of them felt

         the soul slip forth


like a tremor of pure sunlight

   before exhaustion,

      that wants to swallow everything,

         gripped their bones and left them


miserable and sleepy,

   as they are now, forgetting

      how the wind tore at the sails

         before he rose and talked to it —


tender and luminous and demanding

   as he always was —

      a thousand times more frightening

         than the killer sea.


I’m looking forward to worshiping with you in person, via Zoom, or livestream at 10:30 AM this Fourth Sunday after Pentecost. The musical offerings this Sunday will enliven your soul. Our featured musician is Mayumi Grasso on cello and she will be playing “What A Wonderful World” for our Anthem and “Traumerei” for our Sermon Prayer Reflection. The Prelude is “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” with Judith Daugherty on piano. I will be preaching from Mark 4.35-41 and my sermon title is A Voice in the Whirlwind. And please note, as most of our congregation is vaccinated and the COVID health crisis is starting to wane, we have returned to (a little bit) of congregational singing! Thus, we have a Closing Hymn, “How Firm a Foundation.” For those worshiping in person, masks and social distancing are optional. Lastly, we will meet in the Education Building after worship for coffee hour. 


As the pandemic in the United States is ebbing, let us come back to church and celebrate being with the community of faith that we so love. See you on Sunday!


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


Pastor Trish

Worship Link for June 13 and Joyful Gratitude

posted Jun 14, 2021, 5:49 AM by Tricia Sheffield   [ updated Jun 14, 2021, 5:50 AM ]

Dear MRC Friends and Family,

Greetings of peace to you!

If you were unable to be in worship yesterday, here is the link to our Third Sunday of Pentecost worship: https://youtu.be/XwUMKtlezUQ

Let me add that it was wonderful to see so many faces back in our sanctuary. Indeed, there was joy, once again, in God's house. And the joy extended to our Lt. Dennis Zilinski, II Youth Group Memorial Scholarship brunch. A very special thank you to the Ruth Circle and the Youth Group leaders for feeding us so well. Further gratitude goes to all of you who supported our young adults entering or continuing university/college/tech school. And, to Chief Craig Weber and representatives of the Middletown Police Department/PBA who joined us and gave a very generous donation to the scholarship fund, we are grateful -- not only for their support but also for their service to our community. 

But, it must be said the best bit of Sunday was the happiness we shared in being together in person with one another. Thanks be to God!

Blessings of joy,

Pastor Trish

Worship and a Brunch

posted Jun 11, 2021, 8:00 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Blessings of Pentecost joy be with you! I hope you are enjoying this cooler weather in New Jersey.


I’m looking forward to joyously worshiping with you in person, via Zoom, or livestream at 10:30 AM this Third Sunday after Pentecost. The musical offerings this Sunday will inspire your commitment to Christ and refresh your soul. Our featured musician is Diane Grady and she will be singing “You Are the Seed” for our Anthem and “Hymn of Promise” for our Sermon Prayer Reflection. The Prelude is Variations on the hymn tune Jewels” with Judith Daugherty on organ. I will be preaching from Mark 4.26-34 and my sermon title is Tree of Life. And please note, as most of our congregation is vaccinated and the COVID health crisis is starting to wane, we have returned to (a little bit) of congregational singing! Thus, we have an Opening Hymn, “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken.” For those worshiping in person, masks and social distancing are optional. 

 

Also, THIS SUNDAY is our Lt. Dennis Zilinski, II Youth Group Memorial Scholarship brunch — All things strawberry, along with our brunch favorites, in the Education Building after worship. You may dine in, or you may take out as an alternative option. A free will offering will be taken to support our young people returning or continuing their university/college/tech school education. It is going to be a wonderful time worshiping together and then breaking bread with one another after 15 months of not being able to do so.

 

As the pandemic is waning, let us come back to church and celebrate being with the community of faith that we so love. See you on Sunday, beloved one of God!


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


Pastor Trish

Pride Sunday Worship Link, June 6, 2021

posted Jun 7, 2021, 5:48 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace to you! For those who were unable to be in worship, here is the link for our Pride Sunday/Second Sunday of Pentecost worship: https://youtu.be/tcsbWs-IF6g

Let me add that joy was certainly in God's house yesterday! Since nearly all of our congregation is vaccinated, we passed the peace with hugs and even sang a little! As we move forward out of the pandemic, I encourage you to come back to church and be with your community of faith. Truly, there is nothing like worshiping God in our beautiful sanctuary.

Blessings for your week,

Pastor Trish

And the Table Will Be Wide

posted Jun 4, 2021, 8:20 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Blessings of Pentecost joy be with you!


June is Pride month and as such, we at Middletown Reformed Church celebrate that all God’s children — specifically, LGBTQ+ people — are welcomed into the full life and ministry of the church. We affirm “You will never look into the eyes of someone God doesn’t love” (author unknown). We are committed to sharing and being a witness to this love with everyone we meet. We know that the circle of God’s unending and amazing grace is always growing, ever expanding to welcome more and more people to the feast that God prepares for us, and we will continue to advocate for this welcome in the Church Universal. I could share more God-affirmations with you, but I came across a poem that I believe captures God’s radical hospitality and our faithful part in being bearers of this truth. May it be so.


"And the Table Will be Wide"

by Jan Richardson 


And the table

will be wide.

And the welcome

will be wide.

And the arms 

will open wide

to gather us in.

And our hearts 

will open wide

to receive. 


And we will come

as children who trust

there is enough.

And we will come

unhindered and free.

And our aching 

will be met 

with bread.

And our sorrow

will be met

with wine.


And we will open our hands

to the feast

without shame.

And we will turn 

toward each other

without fear.

And we will give up

our appetite

for despair.

And we will taste

and know

of delight.


And we will become bread

for a hungering word.

And we will become drink

for those who thirst.

And the blessed

will become the blessing

And everywhere 

will be the feast


I’m looking forward to joyously worshiping with you in person, via Zoom, or livestream at 10:30 AM this Pride Sunday as we celebrate the arms-wide-open welcome of all God’s beloved children. Our musical offerings this Sunday will inspire your faith journey. Our bell choir will be ringing “Amazing Grace” for our Prelude; Nancy Coffin will be singing “Grace Alone” for our Anthem; and Judith Daugherty will be playing “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” for our Sermon Prayer Reflection. I will be preaching from 2 Corinthians 4.13-5.1 and my sermon title is These Earthly Tents. We will also celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper together, so for those at home, please have bread and juice/wine with you during worship. For those worshiping in person, masks and social distancing are optional.  


May we be bread, drink, and a blessing so that God’s feast of love may be everywhere and enjoyed by all people — no matter what. I’ll see you on Sunday. Happy Pride!


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


Pastor Trish

Trinity Sunday Worship Link, May 30

posted Jun 1, 2021, 6:06 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Good morning to you!

For those who were unable to attend worship this Sunday, here is the link to our Trinity Sunday worship: https://youtu.be/ksF_zxjkUug

May the rest of your week be filled with joy and Christ's peace,

Pastor Trish

For Trinity Sunday, May 30

posted May 28, 2021, 6:45 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Blessings of Pentecost joy be with you! I pray you’ve had a good week.


By now I assume you are aware of  Gov. Murphy's announcement concerning the easing of the mask mandate and social distancing for vaccinated people in indoor settings. Let us rejoice because this means we may finally be moving toward an end to the pandemic in our country and hopefully our world! 


As such, I reached out to our Church Re-opening Ad Hoc Committee to get their opinion on this announcement, and they made the following recommendation to Consistory, which was approved: As most of our congregation is fully vaccinated, starting Sunday, May 30, masks and social distancing are optional for those attending worship and indoor events. For individuals who may feel uncomfortable in such a setting, they are encouraged to wear their mask and practice social distancing. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, everyone should make the wisest, safest, and most loving decision for their health, the health of their family, and their neighbor, honoring the Greatest Commandment of Jesus. However you choose to come to church, know you will receive God’s arms wide-open welcome. If you have any questions regarding this matter, please feel free to reach out to me.


I’m looking forward to joyously welcoming you to church in person, via Zoom, or livestream at 10:30 AM this Trinity Sunday as we celebrate the wondrous community of Love in God the Creator, Jesus the Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit the Sustainer. Our musical offerings this Sunday will certainly inspire your soul as Judith Daugherty is our featured musician along with Callie Thorpe and Eli Thorpe on trumpet. Our songs are “Holy, Holy, Holy!” for our Prelude; “Lord of the Dance” for our Anthem; “Morning Mood” for our Sermon Prayer Reflection; and “America the Beautiful” for our Postlude. I will be preaching from John 16.7, 12-15 and my sermon title is A Dance of Love


Lastly, this weekend is Memorial Day weekend, the official start of summer in New Jersey. After being separated by the pandemic for so long, many families and friends will gather to enjoy a BBQ meal together. It will be a time of much desired celebration. But more importantly, this weekend is about honoring and remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. I hope that during the weekend, and especially on Monday you will pause to give thanks for the heroism of the faithful people who selflessly gave their all for our freedom.


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


Pastor Trish

Pentecost Sunday Worship Link, May 23

posted May 24, 2021, 7:19 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace!

For those who were unable to join us for worship yesterday, here is the link to our Pentecost Sunday worship: https://youtu.be/4s9BU2Hq7Zc

God's blessings for your week,

Pastor Trish

Inspirational Information

posted May 21, 2021, 11:05 AM by Tricia Sheffield   [ updated May 24, 2021, 7:20 AM ]

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Blessings of peace be with you!


I’m not sure about you, but I’m beginning to feel a growing sense of relief that this pandemic may finally be over soon. After such a long and difficult year of loss, grief, social isolation, and anxiety, I see a light at the end of the tunnel, and as Bill Potter said to me, “It’s not a big truck coming at us.” No, it’s not — it’s the light of Hope. 


As our society returns to some semblance of “the before times,” that means our church will once again hum with activities and ministries. It is with a heart of joy that I wish to share some inspirational information with you about what we’re hoping to do this summer. (Note: after the lesson of 2020 I never say “plan” anymore when it comes to events; instead, I go with the phrase, “hope to do”). As I told the Consistory, my dream and vision is that after being apart for so long we will create opportunities for us to be together, reconnect, and have good, meaningful, and supportive conversations. And, of course, continue our call from Christ to community outreach and love for all. 


So, here’s the Hope for the summer:


Tomorrow (May 22) is our second and final Youth Group and Ruth Circle Parking Lot Sale on Kings Highway from 10 AM - 2:30 PM (see flyer attached). All proceeds will go to our Zilinski Scholarship Fund and for community outreach. Come and find some treasures and support our Youth Group and Ruth Circle!


The Coventry House porch parties resume on June 11 (2nd Friday of the month), 7 - 9 PM (weather permitting)! Please bring a lawn chair, your favorite beverage, and a nibble and gather on the lawn of Coventry House for good times and conversation with your church family.


On June 13 we will have a Lt. Dennis Zilinski, II Youth Group Memorial Scholarship brunch — All things strawberry in the Education Building after worship. A free will offering will be taken to support the scholarship fund. This event will kick off our return to coffee hour and First Sunday brunches after worship in the Education Building. We are having coffee hour in the Education Building instead of the basement as there is better ventilation there than the basement, and we will have more room to socially distance. Coffee, iced tea, and cookies will be served.


Calling all volunteers for June 26! In partnership with the Middletown Lions Club, we have collected all the items for the Blessing Bag Brigade and now is the time to assemble the bags at The Church of St. Catherine Laboure, 110 Bray Avenue, Middletown from 10 – 11:30 AM. Please contact Beverly Bova Scarano at beverlybovascarano@verizon.net if you can help. You must let her know you are coming as she has to register you for the event.


Save the Dates! July 24 and August 27: Come to the Cabaret! Entertainment by some of our talented members and friends, 8 - 9 PM in the Education Building. Bring your favorite beverage and enjoy the music. Coffee and cake will be provided, and we will have a tip jar for those who wish to donate to the Music Ministry Fund.


Do you enjoy planting and growing vegetables? Well, an idea has been floated that we convert our unused playground into a Community Vegetable Garden, and it was received by the Consistory with an enthusiastic “Yes!” Granted, it’s too late in the season to plant now, but we would like to use this summer to get the soil and area ready for next year. Our vision is to grow vegetables that we can then give to the Calico Cat Food Pantry, the Keyport Food Pantry, and those in need in our congregation and community. If you are interested in being a part of the Garden Growing Team, please contact Jamie Zeller at jamierzeller@gmail.com.


And of course, worship. Judy and I are committed to continue bringing you beautiful music and meaningful worship that honors Christ and celebrates his grace toward us. And, speaking of worship, let me add that Zoom was such a useful tool for us, especially in the early days of the pandemic, as it brought us together, allowing us to see, hear, and speak with one another. For this communication tool we are grateful. That said, as our state continues to re-open, as well as our sanctuary to in person worship, the Consistory and I believe the time has come to discontinue Zoom worship. The last Zoom for Sunday worship will be June 27. Please be aware that in addition to in person worship we will continue to livestream on Sunday via our YouTube channel — MRC: A Fabulous Church of Love.


We have all of these hopes and dreams for the summer, but first, I’m looking forward to welcoming you to church in person, via Zoom, or livestream this Pentecost Sunday as we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. Please wear red, yellow, or orange to church in honor of such a wondrous gift. Our musical offerings this Sunday will certainly revive your spirit as our men’s trio — Dan Pannebaker, Izaak Thorpe, and Jamie Zeller — will be singing “Open My Eyes, That I May See” for our Anthem, and “Spirit of the Living God” for our Sermon Prayer Reflection. I will be preaching from Romans 8.22-27 and Acts 2.1-21 and my sermon title is Where the Spirit Goes Next. If you are attending in person, please wear your mask*, practice social distancing, and sit where you see a white gratitude card on the pews.


Beloved, let us go forth into the summer with joy and a breath of relief, continuing to believe and hope in powerful, Spirit-filled ways. I hope to see you tomorrow and/or on Sunday!


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


Pastor Trish



*By now we are all aware that the CDC has issued new guidelines for mask wearing for those who are fully vaccinated. At this point, however, we are still under a mask mandate from Governor Murphy. Until we hear differently, we will continue to mask in worship for the safety of all. Hopefully, the mask mandate will be lifted soon. As we continue to see glimmers of hope on the horizon, let us continue to pray for a final end to the pandemic.


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