Pastor's Corner

The Work of Christmas

posted Jan 10, 2020, 3:21 PM by Tricia Sheffield

Epiphany blessings of light to you! It’s good to return from vacation and be in the joyful community of MRC.

I look forward to being back in God’s house to worship with you this Sunday at 10:30 AM. It’s a special day in the liturgical calendar as it celebrates the Baptism of the Lord. Mike Steib is our featured soloist for the anthem; Dan Pannebaker is our worship leader; and I will be preaching from Isaiah 42.1-9 and Matthew 3.13-17. My sermon title is "A Covenant to the People."

It would irresponsible of me as your pastor if I didn’t acknowledge the sadness and tension we are currently experiencing in our world. The horror and tragedy of devastating wildfires in Australia, and war, and rumors of war that are creating an even more divisive and fearful climate in our country are present on our minds. I invite you to pray with me that all will come to know that PEACE is the path to the Reign of God, and may we, as people of faith, continue the work of Christmas: "When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and princes are home, when the shepherds are back with their flocks, the work of Christmas begins: to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among the people, to make music in the heart" (Howard Thurman).

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

Pastor Trish

How the Light Comes

posted Dec 27, 2019, 7:24 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Blessings of Christmas joy be with you!

What a beautiful Christmas Eve worship we had together. The music was stirring, both from our Handbell Choir, New Jericho Choir, and the Joyful Noise Adult Choir. 

But, the most wondrous moment of the evening is when the Christ Candle is lit, the light going outward, dispelling the darkness, and voices joining together in “Silent Night.” I hear from many of you that this is your favorite time of worship. It is for me too, but not necessarily because of candlelight and singing; rather, this point in worship brings me joy because of what I’m privileged to witness — your uplifted faces, radiantly bathed in Christ’s light. It is a holy perspective I wish all of you could see, for in that space the words of Jan Richardson’s blessing are incarnated in you: I cannot tell you how the light comes, but that it does. That it will. That it works its way into the deepest dark that enfolds you, though it may seem long ages in coming or arrive in a shape you did not foresee. And so may we this day turn ourselves toward it. May we lift our faces to let it find us. May we bend our bodies to follow the arc it makes. May we open and open more and open still to the blessed light that comes.

We are still in the season of Christmas so come this Sunday at 10:30 AM to continue opening to the Light of Christ. Nancy Coffin, Diane Grady, and Izaak Thorpe will be our featured soloists. Our worship will be one of hymns, songs, readings, and Scripture; but most importantly, will be filled with the joy the Christ Child brings.

As much as we are celebrating the joy of Christ’s birth right now, our congregation is also holding grief in our hearts as beloved MRC member Mark Generoso died the night of December 25th after a long battle with MS. Mark’s family wants to let you know that the viewing is at Evergreen Memorial Funeral Home on Sunday, December 29 from 2 - 4 PM and 7 - 9 PM. The funeral will be at our church on Monday, December 30 at 10 AM with a repast in the Education Building. Please join me in prayers of comfort for the Generoso family in this time of loss and sorrow. In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, Mark is now resting in peace, and he will — one day — rise in glory.

I look forward to welcoming you to God’s house on Sunday.

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

Pastor Trish

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Love

posted Dec 20, 2019, 6:52 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Blessings of hope, peace, and joy be with you!

Allow me to share something that happened recently. I rather like to view it as a Christmas tale of love. It’s called “The Late Night Rescue of Coventry House Chloe.”

I told myself that I was going to be strong and not cry. But, with Chloe being missing now for a while and it getting dark, every time I thought of Chloe lost out there somewhere — alone, cold, and scared — I began to sob. Exhausted from the day’s emotional stress, I couldn’t take the looking and waiting anymore and decided to go to bed early. Before I did, though, I stood in front of the photos of my two grandmothers and said, “You are my saints, my great cloud of witnesses. I need you to help me find my cat. Please bring her back to me. Guide her home.”

As I slept, I had a dream. I was on an airplane traveling home from a family function, although the plane looked more like a theatre. I looked up and my Grandmother Sheffield was standing at my shoulder. She said, “You left these behind and I wanted to bring them to you.” She gave me two articles of clothing. (Note: I had my sweater and Chloe’s favorite blanket outside hoping to lure her back home with scent). Immediately, I woke up. It was 2:30 AM. No matter. I knew I had to go outside and look for Chloe. I put on a fluffy bathrobe and my slippers, took my cell phone to use it as a flashlight and went out the front door. Walking around the house, checking in the garage for the fifth time, looking under bushes and brush piles, I called and called to Chloe. No sign of her. After a while, I went inside and looked out the window, hoping to see her. Still nothing. I thought I caught a glimpse of something by the garage, so out I went again. But, it wasn’t a cat. It was some of my deer who had come up to eat corn. I could smell them before I saw them, as this time of year the deer have a very pungent, musky odor.

Once again, I started circling the house, calling Chloe! Chloe! My hunt had me end up in the backyard, and I decided to stand still and wait. Finally, I breathed deeply, called out her name and then listened. Quietly, out of the cold darkness came a weak meow. I called again, Chloe? Another meow. Turning on my flashlight, I moved in the direction of the meowing, saying her name over and over. The light caught two little glowing eyes behind a tree, just on the edge of the woods behind the Education Building. I approached her cautiously, not wanting her to run away, and scooped her up into my arms, holding her tightly. And thus we walked, back into the warmth of home. As we did so, I breathed a prayer, “Thank you, Grandma. Thank you, God.”

The Christmas story of love coming all the way down from heaven is so familiar that we may miss opportunities to see it played out in our day-to-day routine. Chloe’s return during the season of Advent was my reminder that with the birth of Jesus, God took despair and turned it into hope; struggle became peace; and grief gave way to joy. And it was always God’s unconditional love that encircled the people as they moved from darkness into light. As the prophet Isaiah says, The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them light has shined . . . For a child has been born for us, a son given to us . . . A child — born of humble origins in a dusty stable — is God’s gift to the world. God took the despair, struggle, and grief of God’s people, held it in love, and wrapped it up in flesh to be called Immanuel - God with us. And because God is with us, we are given salvation; we are called beloved child; we live in amazing grace every day.

Come this Sunday to church at 10:30 AM to celebrate God’s love wrapped in flesh. Our children and youth will delight our hearts with the Christmas pageant No Silent Night in Bethlehem. After worship, we will have our annual Christmas party in Coventry House, with Santa and his elves making an appearance!

And then, on Christmas Eve at 6 PM, I invite you to come back to church (and bring a friend!) as we bear witness to the light of Christ coming into the world with our Traditional and Family Friendly Candlelight worship. We’ll have musical selections from an Antique Music Box, joyous songs from the Joyful Noise Adult Choir, New Jericho Choir, and ringing from the Handbell Choir. There will be a Children’s Story Time called Christmas in the Barn. And I will share a brief reflection called Follow the Star.

Also, in gratitude for the gift of the Christ Child, the Consistory and I invite you to please consider giving a tax-deductible Christmas offering for the ministries of MRC. As I’ve said many times before, you are the hands and feet of God’s love in our community. It’s because of your faithful gifts of time, talents, and treasure that we can celebrate the inclusive and welcoming love of God every Sunday, and throughout the week with our ministry partners. Let me add that you have been very generous this year in your giving to the General Fund, the Deacons’ Fund, and our 24 for 24 Capital Campaign. We are so grateful, and humbly ask for your continued generosity this Christmas and into the New Year.

Truly, I love serving as your pastor. In a world where hope is sometimes hard to see and joy can be elusive, you give me hope and joy each and every day. I’m wishing you abundant blessings for a happy and beautiful Christmas.

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

Pastor Trish

Third Sunday of Advent: Joy!

posted Dec 13, 2019, 6:13 AM by Tricia Sheffield   [ updated Dec 13, 2019, 6:13 AM ]

Blessings of Advent hope and peace be with you!

For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands (Isaiah 55.12).

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete (John 15.10-11).

In a few days we will enter into the Third Sunday of Advent. It’s one of my favorite Sundays during Advent because the gift of pure love coming down to us in the birth of a Savior will give us abiding joy. Joy! We can rejoice in this gift because the Lord will be living among us, and this Lord will give us his joy and renew us in his love.

On the Third Sunday of Advent, we are waiting and hoping and expecting the good news of God’s love that will bring great joy for all the world. God is becoming flesh to show us how much God loves us, and this love is about to change us and everything . . . forever.

So, in preparation for this joyous Sunday, I invite you to pray, meditate, and think with me on two questions. First, where are you experiencing Christ’s joy in your life right now? Second, where would you like to experience Christ’s joy in your life so that your joy may be complete? My Advent prayer for you, beloved one, is that the first question will have far more answers than the second question. And I hope that you will pause and take the time to give thanks for the joy Christ has given you, and also, to look forward in hope to the joy God is sending into the world through the birth of a Savior. 

Come this Sunday at 10:30 AM to celebrate the joy of God’s salvation! We have extraordinary music planned for this worship. Dan Pannebaker will be our worship leader; the Joyful Noise Adult Choir will sing “Prepare Ye!” for the Prelude and "A Star, A Song, A Sign” for the Offertory with Sarah Gordon on flute; and Tim Anderson will be our featured soloist singing "Comfort Ye!/ Every Valley” by Handel. I will be preaching from Isaiah 35.1-10 and Matthew 11.2-11 and my sermon title is Are You the One? 

Like a mother experiencing birth pangs, all of creation groans with expectation waiting for the birth of a child that gives us good news of great joy. Let us rejoice in this soon-coming birth, sharing in the songs of angels and the gladness of shepherds. Joy to the world, the Lord is coming soon! 

In gratitude for the joy of being your Pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish

Second Sunday of Advent: Peace

posted Dec 6, 2019, 7:42 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Advent greetings and blessings to you!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid (John 14.27).

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4.7).

In a few days we will enter into the Second Sunday of Advent and celebrate the peace that the Christ Child brings into the world. It is a peace that is given to the nations, where “the wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid . . .” A peace for all people given to us through the birth of a vulnerable baby.

But this baby grew into a child, then a teenager, and finally a man who would be called the Prince of Peace. As he lived as an adult, and before he died and returned to God, he left us with his peace — an uncommon peace, not what we think of as the world defines. 

As I’ve been reflecting on the peace of Advent, I’ve also been wondering what does it mean to live in this space of peace — the kind that surpasses all of our imaginings and understanding? What is it exactly to experience the peace of Christ and not live in fear, or allow our hearts to be troubled? What does this look like? How does it feel to have peace in a frenetic fast-paced world that seems to be both resisting and also crying out for such a holy peace? I invite you to reflect with me on these questions and seek the Christ Child’s peace in the coming week, and I would love to hear how God answers you. 

Let us begin this journey together of seeking God’s peace on Sunday at 10:30 AM as we worship the Prince of Peace. We have very special music for our worship with Amy Caporaso on violin. She will be playing “Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring” and “Ave Maria,” with Judith Daugherty on piano.  Dan Pannebaker will be our worship leader. I will be preaching from Isaiah 11.1-10 and Matthew 3.1-12 and my sermon title is A Signal for the Peoples. Please note we will not have coffee hour after worship. But, come back to church (and bring a friend!) at 3 PM for our December Songbook Concert with a gathering afterwards in the Education Building. A free will offering will be taken to support the music ministry of the church. Beloved, our Director of Music, Judith Daugherty, has planned a beautiful program of music and song. You heart will certainly be blessed and your soul stirred.

I look forward to welcoming you to God’s house on Sunday! In the meantime, may the peace of Christ be with you.

In gratitude for the joy of being your Pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish

While We Wait: The First Sunday of Advent

posted Nov 29, 2019, 11:01 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Grace and peace to you!

I hope your Thanksgiving was a day where you paused to be grateful for the many ways God shows up in your life. And now that the cooking, eating, and communing with friends and family is over, it’s time — no, not to shop — but to wait.

Wait — as this Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent. It is the moment in the liturgical year when we look forward in anticipation to Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love coming into our world with the birth of the Christ child. Every year we celebrate Advent, I’m always in awe that, as one commentator said, “God’s will for justice, righteousness, and peace is made flesh in the weakest of human creatures, a little baby.” And that God chose to show us how much God loves us through messy, painful childbirth; by putting on flesh and becoming one of us. The unbelievable miracle — the surprise — is that God trusted us enough to take care of God’s self in the form of this helpless baby. That to me is the very definition of amazing love.

But, we can’t rush to the baby yet. First, we must wait.

Wait for hope to be born.

I look forward to worshiping with you this Sunday at 10:30 AM as we begin the journey of waiting and then finally following the star to a dusty, smelly stable. Dan Pannebaker will be our worship leader; Deborah Shields will be our featured soloist with the song, “Morning Star;” and the Joyful Noise Adult Choir will sing the Offertory, “I Come with Joy.” I will be preaching from Isaiah 2.1-5 and Matthew 24.33-44 and my sermon title is Faithful Waiting. Also, we will gather around God’s table of hope and grace and celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. After worship, we will have our First Sunday brunch with a free will offering taken to support the ministries of the church.  

I pray that as we begin our Advent together you will experience this very familiar story  in a different way. I pray this journey will change you, surprise you, and as it does, may you carry into the world the hope, peace, joy, and love — Oh, always the love! — that Christ brings.

In gratitude for the joy of being your Pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish

Giving Thanks

posted Nov 22, 2019, 2:39 PM by Tricia Sheffield

Grace and peace to you!

The plaque “Start Each Day with a Grateful Heart” still hangs on the wall in my kitchen as a reminder to begin each morning from a space of gratitude. Sometimes I’m not as quick as I should be to say thank you for another day to live, love, and serve God, but that phrase on the wall staring back at me prompts me to remember. So, in this season of thanksgiving, I’d like to share a few ministry highlights from this year, celebrating all the ways God has been calling us to show up in our community; ministry for which I’m very grateful:

  • We’ve had four baptisms, three young people confirmed, and we will welcome two new members into our congregation this Sunday. Wonderfully, we are seeing new faces in worship each week, and I’m thankful for your ministry of hospitality and welcome for those who visit us. 
  • Our New Jericho Choir is going strong under the direction of Ms. Bev and Ms. Nancy, and has added an ecumenical component with the children rehearsing on given Tuesdays at King of Kings Lutheran Church with Nancy Scharff. 
  • Our music ministry continues to bless us under the stellar direction of Judith Daugherty, as she brings us traditional and eclectic selections through our Joyful Noise Adult Choir and varied soloists. Our February Showcase Concert “All About Love” was a remarkable success. And mark your calendar now for our Christmas Songbook Concert on December 8 at 3 PM
  • We marched for the fourth year in the Asbury Park Pride Parade, giving God’s love and welcome to our LGBTQ siblings who have been marginalized by the church. And let’s not forget our Pride Italian Dinner Night, which was a great and fun event!
  • We awarded seven $500 Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II Youth Group scholarships to entering and continuing college students to support them in their education.
  • Our Youth Group Fall Gift Auction raised $3300 to continue to fund two adopted children through Compassion International, as well as other outreach programs. 
  • The Dorcas Circle and friends are leading us into the fourth year of participating in the Bayshore Lunch Program, where we provide a free lunch for God’s beloved people in the Bayshore area.
  • We remain committed members of the Community Outreach Group, helping those in our community whom Jesus called “the least of these” during the Postal Workers Food Drive, the Back to School Donation Drive, and the Christmas Donation Drive. 
  • For over 45 years we have participated in Middletown Helps Its Own, delivering holidays meals and Christmas toys in November and December, respectively. And tomorrow is the Thanksgiving delivery at 7:30 AM!
  • Our First Sunday Brunch continues to be a joyful time of extending the feast of the Lord’s Supper by sharing a meal after worship in the Education Building.
  • We’ve accomplished several Buildings and Grounds projects, including fascia and soffit repair on the Education Building; lights along the driveway for better safety during choir rehearsal and evening events; chimney repair at the Coventry House; a garden beautification project on the property; and the ongoing replacement of the old chandelier lights with updated LED bulbs. 
  • And speaking of Buildings and Grounds projects, in September we launched our 24 for 24 Capital Campaign to repair our front steps and sidewalk, and your response has been overwhelming! In addition to the two $25,000 gifts from anonymous donors, we have already raised over $11,000 for other projects, such as painting the sanctuary. Wow! Thank you so much, and thank you for your continued generosity. (Please note our mason hopes to begin work soon if the weather cooperates. If not, the project will commence in the spring). 
  • Lastly, this month marks a year that we became a dual-affiliated congregation with the United Church of Christ. We have celebrated being part of a denomination that welcomes, affirms, and celebrates LGBTQ people into the full life of the church. Tragically, the Reformed Church in America does not have this same position. We have not witnessed in the majority of the RCA a celebration of God’s wonderfully made human sexuality, or the love of neighbor, only enmity and strife that has led to a climate of fear, rancor, and bullying, especially of LGBTQ people. We grieve this movement in the RCA, and we grieve with our LGBTQ siblings in Christ — whom we love very much — as they have been exposed to exclusion, intimidation, and abuse in their own denomination. That said, we are committed to remaining a welcoming and affirming congregation, in whatever denomination God leads us.

As I stated previously, these are just a few highlights as to how God is leading us in ministry at MRC. I could name so much more, but that would be an even longer email!

Come this Sunday at 10:30 AM to give thanks to God as our Children and Youth lead our Reign of Christ worship. The sermon title is Jedi Jesus followed by a special Brunch, with special brunchy food and liquid refreshments for young and old. A free will offering will be taken to underwrite the registration fees and expenses for our Christian Education teachers to attend the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators Conference in Little Rock in January.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, I remain overwhelmingly thankful for all the ways you so selflessly give to our church. You are a congregation that takes seriously Jesus’ Greatest Commandment to love God with everything you’ve got, and to love your neighbor as yourself. I see you living this commandment everyday, whether in the ministries we are called to do, or in the way you care for each other and our larger community. Truly, because of your faithfulness and God’s love and grace, I do start each day with a grateful heart.

In gratitude for the joy of being your Pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish

Marked as Christ's Own

posted Nov 15, 2019, 9:32 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Grace and peace to you on this gloriously sunny day!

I’m looking forward to worshiping with you this Sunday because we will, once again, welcome two children — William-John Richard and Colton Jack —  into the covenant family with the Sacrament of Baptism. On Sunday, they will be signed and sealed as God’s own. One of my favorite parts of the baptismal liturgy is For you Jesus Christ came into the world; for you he died and for you he conquered death; All this he did for you, little one, though you know nothing of it as yet. We love because God first loved us . . . Child of the covenant, in baptism you are sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever. Amen. 

There it is. Beautiful words of promise that we belong to God forever and that there is nothing we can do to make God love us more, or love us less. We simply belong — body and soul.

So come on Sunday at 10:30 AM to bear witness to God’s love for us as the Spirit stirs the water and reminds us that in baptism water cleanses; it purifies; refreshes; sustains: Jesus Christ is living water. The Joyful Noise Adult Choir will sing the anthem, “Days of Elijah” and Sarah Gordon will be our featured soloist with the song “Borning Cry.” Dan Pannebaker is our worship leader, and Perri Donovan-Howlett is our liturgist. I will be preaching from Isaiah 65.17-25 and my sermon title is God Will Hear. 


I pray that when you participate in William and Colton’s baptisms you will recall your own baptism, for as a friend once said to me, whenever someone is baptized, everyone gets a little wet. And may you live boldly and in faith with the assurance, For you Jesus Christ came into the world; for you he died and for you he conquered death; All this he did for you, beloved one, and may you continue to know it forever more.


In gratitude for the joy of being your Pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish

In the Silence Name Me

posted Nov 8, 2019, 9:54 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Grace and peace to you! 

Holy One, untamed by the names I give you, in the silence name me, that I may know who I am, hear the truth you have put into me, trust the love you have for me, which you call me to live out . . . in your human family (Ted Loder).

After a phone conversation I had this week, and especially as the frenetic holiday season is upon us, I’ve been thinking about the spiritual discipline of being still.

When I was about seven years old, my family went to Georgia to attend our annual family reunion. It was a long weekend filled with folks catching up with each other, fun and games for the kids, worship at the local church, and food, food, and yes, more food. And this was Southern, greasy, yummy harden-your-arteries food.  It was fantastic! After one of these big dinners, I remember being in a large Social Hall at the church and running around non-stop, as I was a very active child. My mother often called me her free spirit. I think my “free spirit-ness” got on a lot of people’s nerves that day because my Dad and some of my great-uncles finally caught up to me and offered me a challenge. They said if I could sit still for five minutes, they would give me a dollar. My eyes gleamed. A whole dollar . . . that was a lot of money to a kid in the 1970s. Oh, I took that challenge and I took it quite seriously. I didn’t want to just sit still but I decided I was going to be a statue, and not make one single movement. I’d show them! Well, after those five minutes, I got my dollar, and then went right back to running around like I had before!  

I’m obviously not seven anymore, but I’m still my mom’s free spirit and when I do move, I still go pretty fast, although not as fast as I used to go. But you know what? Nowadays, I have no trouble sitting still and just being. No one has to pay me a dollar to do it; in fact, my introvert self requires it in order to get recharged. In these moments of recharging, I’ve learned something about being still, something about myself as I’ve grown up and grown into my faith. Being still and being quiet is a holy space in which to feel God’s unshakeable presence. In the spiritual discipline of being still and listening, there we find God; there God meets us; there God will always be, no matter what.

Come this Sunday at 10:30 AM to experience the all-encompassing, beautiful, grace-filled love of God in Christ Jesus. Nancy Coffin will be our featured soloist with the anthem, “Whither Thou Goest.” Marine Veteran Lynn Scarano, Air Force Veteran Bob Hofmann will be our liturgists, along with Dan Pannebaker as worship leader. I will be preaching from Isaiah 43.14-21 and 2 Thessalonians 2.1-5, 13-17 and my sermon title is Still Be Our Vision.

Be still. And know that God will consistently be there, will show up, is sovereign, in control of our world, and will continue to love us unconditionally. I invite you as you are reading this, or perhaps after you’ve finished reading, to stop and be still, close your eyes, and breathe. Let your entire being rest in God’s presence, believing and trusting these words from Scripture: Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46.10). 

In gratitude for the joy of being your Pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish

All Saints' Day

posted Nov 1, 2019, 3:49 PM by Tricia Sheffield

Grace and peace to you, beloved one of God!

Today is All Saints’ Day. On this holiday in the liturgical year we remember our beloved ones who have gone on to be in the eternal presence of God. In our tradition we call them “the great cloud of witnesses” — the ones who continue to encourage us on in our faith. How joyous they must be, as they are basking continuously in the light of God, constantly singing this praise: ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen’ (Revelation 7.12)! And yet, as joyful as they are, we mourn the fact they are no longer with us here on earth. We miss them; their absence is a very deep presence, an ache.

A while back a colleague of mine asked, “Who is your favorite saint?” Or rather, “What saint has influenced you the most?” I immediately thought of my grandparents, and the hospitality I felt every time I entered their houses. I remembered their unconditional love for me, and the joy I experienced being in their presence. I recalled all of the life lessons they taught me, and how those lessons have shaped me into the person I am today. They are my saints, pure and simple, and I would love to be able to spend just one more day with them.

But the question my friend posed got me to thinking as to who are our current and living saints. And I couldn’t help but wonder, why do we wait for a person to be gone to acknowledge them as a formative force in our lives? I’m not saying we shouldn’t remember and hold dear the saints that are no longer with us; but rather, why don’t we recognize the saints that walk amongst us, and see them for who they are in the here and now? 

Assuredly, everyone we encounter is a person made in the image of God. But, how can we acknowledge that in the small interactions we have through the day? Maybe as we start to seek out our living saints, and not just look to the past for our saints, perhaps the reign of God will begin to take a firmer shape and and the kingdom will come. The kingdom: a place where this is no more hunger, thirst, drought, sorrow, pain, or death. A world that is filled with people from every tribe and nation living in peace, singing praises to God, and the light of God’s love is so brilliant we have no need of sun or moon.

Come this Sunday at 10:30 AM as we remember our saints, especially the ones we lost this year, and look for the kingdom of God to come on earth. The Joyful Noise Adult Choir will sing the anthem, “Holy, Holy, Holy” with Dan Pannebaker as our worship leader. I will be preaching from Isaiah 25.6-9 and Ephesians 1.11-23 and my sermon title is Rise Up, O Saints of God! We will be joined by our saints and lifted up to heaven at God’s wide open table of grace with the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. And when we do, we will claim that the table is where God intends us to be nourished, and when Christ makes all things new. The table is for all the saints — past and present — no matter who we are, what we’ve done, where we’ve been, or where we’re going. The table is for all God’s beloved. Afterwards, we will gather around another table in the Education Building for our First Sunday Brunch. A free will offering will be taken to support the ministries of God’s church.

Let us look for saints in our world now. I’m praying we expect to see the face of God in our ordinary day-to-day routine as a way to be inspired and challenged to live out the Greatest Commandment as given to us by our rabbi, our greatest saint, our friend and savior, Jesus. See you Sunday!

In gratitude for the joy of being your Pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish

Please note: As the winter months are upon us, we are collecting coats, jackets, sweatshirts, sweaters, hoodies, gloves, and winter hats for Pastor Steve Brigham in order to help those in Town Square who are homeless keep warm in these cold days. Please bring any of these items to church this Sunday, and any following Sunday, or during the week. Thank you for your ministry of care! 

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