Pastor's Corner and Worship Links


Worship Link for June 26

posted by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace to you!

Here is the link to our Third Sunday after Pentecost worship: https://youtu.be/LZ91-VuN-To

May your week be filled with hope in these challenging times,

Pastor Trish

Body and Soul

posted Jun 24, 2022, 8:29 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


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


I say it every summer. I’m going to carve out space to read, reflect, write, have more intentional prayer time, maybe go on a weekend silent retreat, take more walks, and listen more closely for God’s voice. In other words, I’ve made countless summer resolutions to spend quality Sabbath time, as Barbara Brown Taylor (BBT) describes it, With sundown on the Sabbath, I stop seeing the dust balls, the bills, and the laundry. They are still there, but they lose their power over me. One day each week I live as if all my work were done. I live as if the kingdom has come, and when I do the kingdom comes, for one day at least. Now, when I know the Sabbath is near, I can feel the anticipation bubbling up inside of me. Sabbath is no longer a good idea or even a spiritual discipline for me. It is my regular date with the Divine Presence that enlivens both body and soul. 


Doesn’t that sound lovely? And yet . . .


When I make the commitment to have Sabbath, I start out pretty well, but then eventually, when I’m praying and being quiet, my Protestant work ethic kicks in and I see those dust balls, or think, I need to do laundry, or I really need to clean the cat litter, or I must . . . The distractions pile up and then quiet, sitting still Sabbath time with God becomes get-up and do time, and the opportunity to enliven my body and soul becomes forgotten in the tasks of the day. The chores of the day take back power over me.


BBT is correct. It is important to be still and listen for God so our bodies and souls may be refreshed, especially in these times. But if you find it difficult to reconcile BBT’s suggestion for your life, take your cue from Jesus who the Scripture tells us “But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray” (Luke 5.15-16). Jesus took the time to be in the presence of God, to nurture that relationship so that he could accomplish what God called him to do — bring the kingdom of heaven to earth.


Come to worship this Third Sunday after Pentecost in person or on Facebook live to rest easy in the presence of the Divine and witness a glimmer of the kingdom coming. I will be preaching from Galatians 5.1, 13-25 and my sermon title is Life in the Spirit. Tom Martucci will lead us in our musical offerings as we lift our voices to God in praise of God’s everlasting mercy.


My prayer for you this summer after such a long COVID infused two-and-a-half years is that you will take your Sabbath, and not see dust balls, bills, laundry, or whatever else distracts you from being still in the Divine Presence. My hope is that when you are quiet before God the kingdom will come and you will bask in the amazing grace we are so lavishly given each day.


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


Pastor Trish


Worship Link for June 19

posted Jun 22, 2022, 6:07 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace! Here is the link to our Second Sunday after Pentecost worship: https://youtu.be/XtYXd6bQYiw

In addition, as many of you know, Linda Coventry, the wife of former MRC pastor Rev. Bill Coventry, died on June 19 and is now in the presence of Jesus. Here is the link to her obituary: https://www.legacy.com/link.asp?i=OB35288154. All our love and prayers to her family as they mourn and grieve over such a profound loss. May Linda rest in peace and rise in glory.

Pentecost blessings,

Pastor Trish

Summer in June

posted Jun 17, 2022, 6:41 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


The blessings of Pentecost be with you! I pray you had a good week filled with the love and grace of God.


It is with joy that I look forward to worshiping with you this Second Sunday after Pentecost in person or on Facebook live. Due to some unforeseen difficulties, the children will not be presenting their Bible skit, “Go! Go, Jonah” this Sunday. I am preaching from the Letter to the Galatians 3.23-29 and my sermon title is The Discipline of Love. Tom Martucci will lead us in our hymns and musical offerings.


Don’t forget that tonight is our Coventry House Summer Nights Gathering, 7 - 9 PM. Bring a lawn chair, a nibble, and your favorite beverage and gather in the backyard under the faerie lights for conversation and relaxation with your church family. I will provide some snacks and my “almost famous” macaroni and cheese. 


As we relax into the season of ordinary time in the liturgical calendar, receive this prayer/blessing of gratitude for the beginning of summer.


“Thank you”

Thank you, Creator God, for summer’s warmth
and light, your gift.

Help us to joy in the promise of each day.


Thank you, Jesus, for summer’s peace
and stillness, your gift.

Help us to rest in the beauty of each day.


Thank you, gentle Spirit, for summer’s color
and life, your gift.

Help us to thrive in the hope of each day.


Holy Trinity, dynamic and loving, we thank you for
seasons and cycles.

But especially for today in this season of summer. — Jean Hudson


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


Pastor Trish

Worship Link for June 12

posted Jun 13, 2022, 7:05 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace! Here is the link to our Trinity Sunday worship which includes the confirmation of Olivia Diana Hertzog and the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper: 
https://youtu.be/9ZzOEOl15dY

I look forward to seeing you next Sunday in worship when we celebrate our children and teachers. Until then, may your week be filled with God's wondrous love and grace.

Pastor Trish

Alpha and Omega

posted Jun 10, 2022, 7:33 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


The blessings of Pentecost be with you!


This Sunday we will celebrate the awe and mystery of the Trinity. Truly, the Trinity is a mystery and many Biblical scholars and theologians find this aspect of our faith hard to describe. But, the other day as I was skimming through one of my liturgy books I found a prayer-poem that I believe is a wondrous description of who the Trinity is for us. It’s called “I am Alpha and Omega.” I hope you find it as inspiring, comforting, and, at times, challenging as I did.


I am Alpha and Omega


I am Alpha.

I was here in the beginning; the beginning of all that is.

Before the world was, I was here, waiting, waiting for you.

Before there was sea, or crushing waves;

Before there was sky, or rushing clouds; 

Before there was land, or snow-covered mountains, 

I was here.


I was here in the beginning.

Before fish swam, or insects crawled;
before cockerels crowed, or lions roared;
before the singing of a million feathered life forms
greeted the rising sun, 

I was here.


I am Alpha.

I was here before man or woman came into being.

Before you built your homes;
before you worked the fields, or subdued the land;
before you discovered technology,
or sought to control the world through science,

I was here.

I was here in the beginning,
before you lived or loved;
before you talked or toiled;
before your worried weariness made you doubt my existence,

I was here waiting, waiting for you.


I am Alpha.

There is nothing I have not seen;
there is nowhere I have not been.

There is nothing I do not know, or have not experienced.

There is no situation that I have not encountered,
there is no emotion that I do not have;
no feeling that I cannot understand.

There is no joy too great; no laughter too loud;
no amusement that I cannot enjoy;
no caring touch I cannot feel.


I was here in the beginning.

There is no sorrow I cannot share;
no tears too deep; no pain too great;
no aching loneliness that I have not known;
no hatred or betrayal that I have not suffered.

Nothing is new to me.

Before the world began, I was here waiting,
waiting for you.

I am Alpha. Before the world was, I AM.


I am Omega.

I am the end.

The end of all that was; the end of all that will be.

I am the last, the final curtain.

When the world is no more and all is still,

I’ll be there waiting, waiting for you.


I am Omega,
when the sun no longer shines and the rain ceases;
when mists no longer gather, nor snowflakes fall;
when the wind stops its constant roaming
and rainbows are but a distant memory, 

I’ll be there.

When wheat no longer grows, nor kestrels dive;
when boats no longer sail, nor passengers arrive;
when your loud music ceases and all is hushed, 

I’ll be there waiting, waiting for you.


I am Omega.

When you have done your worst to destroy my world,
pulled down my trees and flattened my forests,
polluted my rivers and plundered the land,
altered the genes and confused the life cycles,

I’ll be there.

When you have exploded your bombs and fought your wars,
race against race; colour against colour;
when you have abused the young and ridiculed the old;
when you have ignored the poor
and disobeyed my teaching,

I’ll be there waiting, waiting for you.


I am Omega.

I am the end.

One day I will return and take you with me. 

You need not fear me, for I love you.

I created you in my image,
made you to live in my world,
to know its joys and its woes.

To work; to play; to love;
to win; to lose and to start again.

To live and breathe and know that I am your God
and that you are my people.

I am the end.

When evil is banished and all creation is at peace again
as it was in the beginning,

I’ll be there.


For I am Alpha and Omega.

The beginning and the end.

The first and the last.

And I am waiting, waiting for you.


— Gill Bailey in Summer: Liturgical resources for May, June and July including Eastertide and Pentecost by Ruth Burgess


Come, let us gather for worship this Trinity Sunday in person or on Facebook live to worship the Alpha and Omega. I am preaching from Proverbs 8.1-4, 22-31 and my sermon title is Wisdom’s Call. We have the added joy this Sunday of confirming Olivia Hertzog and welcoming her into full membership at MRC. Tom Martucci will lead us in our musical offerings, and we will gather around God’s table of grace to celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.



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


Pastor Trish

Worship Link for June 5

posted Jun 6, 2022, 6:19 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace! Here is the link to our Pride/Pentecost worship: https://youtu.be/3szZEj6dIqE.

A very big thank you to everyone who supported, contributed, decorated, and marched in the Asbury Park Pride Parade yesterday. It was a glorious day celebrating the power of the Holy Spirit and God's love for all people.

The Lord bless you and keep you,

Pastor Trish

Pride Full Spirit

posted Jun 3, 2022, 1:17 PM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


This Sunday is Pentecost, the birthday of the Church Universal and the celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit! And it’s the Asbury Park Pride Parade — a joyful time in which our church shares with our community and beyond that God’s love and grace is for ALL people, no matter whom you love.


The Holy Spirit shows up as our Advocate and Comforter, a fierce protector, and is often imaged as breath, wind, fire, and a dove. But she’s not just a gentle dove, but in Celtic tradition, is also imaged as a goose. You know, those creatures that honk loudly and tend to be rather pesky and insistent.


One of my favorite quotes about the Holy Spirit is from activist Sister Simone Campbell. She says, “The Holy Spirit is alive and well and making mischief.” If you have been anywhere near social media or the news, you probably are thinking like I am — Now more than ever we need the holy mischief of the Spirit; we need the fire of the Spirit; we need Jesus to breathe on us and give us some holy power. We need to hear him say peace be with you, and upon hearing it, believe that peace really will be with us.


Little nudges, quiet moments, loud moments, silent times and cacophonous times all have the potential to be the work of the Spirit. As preaching professor Fred Craddock states,  “ . . . the Holy Spirit has moved the church into areas in which it otherwise would not have gone and into activities in which it otherwise would not have engaged. Power disturbs, and yet it is not usually until afterward in reflection that we relate disturbances to the Holy Spirit.” Perhaps we just need to stop, listen and look for the holy breath and fire of God who shows up in the ordinary, and suddenly is making a disturbance.


Come, let us gather for worship this Sunday in person or on Facebook live at 9:30 AM — EARLIER TIME so we can get down to Asbury Park in time for the parade. I am preaching from Acts 2.1-21 and my sermon title is This is Just the Beginning. Sarah Gordon is singing the Prelude “Count on Me,” some of our kids will bring us a word in song “Here I Am to Worship,” and The Joyful Noise Adult Choir will sing the anthem “Believer’s Prayer.”


If you are marching on Sunday, please wear your MRC Fabulous Church of Love t-shirt (and even if you’re not marching), along with some red accessories. Or wear red to celebrate the Holy Spirit. For the parade, please bring sunscreen, a hat, water, and wear comfortable shoes. I will buy Jersey Mike’s sandwiches to have for lunch, and will also have some extra bottled water. If you are unable to walk the 1.25 miles of the parade route, we will have my van available for you to ride in. All are welcome to march -- friends, family, neighbors.


Believe this, beloved of God: The Holy Spirit will never be held back by anything or anyone, despite our best efforts to the contrary. So, on this Pentecost and Pride Sunday, let us listen and look for the breath and fire of the Spirit who shows up in the ordinary, and suddenly is making a holy disturbance and transforming people’s lives, and dare I say, the world. Thanks be to God!


Blessings of fire, wind, breath, and certainly some Holy mischief,


Pastor Trish

Worship Link for May 29

posted May 30, 2022, 10:16 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace. Here is the link to our Ascension Sunday worship: https://youtu.be/ocGWyN3H7yc.
Thank you, church, for your raw and honest lament during our Sermon Prayer time yesterday. May we continue to pray and advocate for an end to gun violence.

And on this Memorial Day when we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country, let us pray in the words of William Sloane Coffin, Jr. --

Gracious God, whose own Son's term of service to humanity was so full that its brevity was no distress, we call to mind on this Memorial Sunday those who will not grow old as we are left to grow old, those whose lives were too brief for us but long enough, perhaps, for thee. Forgive us that they died so young because we were too unimaginative, too imperious, too indifferent, or just too late to think of better ways than warfare to conduct the business of the world. Gratefully, we remember the generosity that prompted them to share the last of their rations, the last pair of dry socks, to share in the course of one hour in the foxhole more than most of us care to share with one another in a lifetime. And we recall the courage that made more than one of them fall on the grenade there was no time to throw back.

Grant, O God, that they may not have died in vain. May we draw new vigor from past tragedy. Buttress our instincts for peace, sorely beleaguered. Save us from justifications invented to make us look noble, grand and righteous and from blanket solutions to messy, detailed problems. Give us the vision to see that those nations that gave the most to their generals and least to their poor were, throughout all history, the first to fall. Most of all, give us the vision to see that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth, too small for anything but love. Through Jesus Christ our Savior, who became what we are to make us what he is. Amen.


The Lord bless you and keep you,

Pastor Trish

Pieta

posted May 27, 2022, 7:20 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Well, beloved one, I will say it for all of us — It has been a week.


As we were mourning the racially motivated shooting at the Tops Friendly Markets store in Buffalo and another shooting at the Taiwanese Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, then came another mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, casting, once again, our country into collective grief and disbelief. In addition to the turmoil in our country, we’ve had sorrow in our church family. One of our young ones in the New Jericho Choir lost his father to a tragic and unexpected death and four of our members are sick with COVID.


It has been a week.


And yet, through all of this turmoil I have been holding to this truth: God is still sovereign. Even though all signs seem to indicate the opposite at this point, I know, or rather, I have to know that God’s steadfast love continues to be with us and hold us in our mourning. To be sure, our faith teaches us that God mourns with us (Psalm 56.8). This claim of mine is not to make light of, ignore, or trivialize the absolute horror and pain of this week. There is a time for lament and this is certainly it (Lamentations 2.11-12). But, if I did not have the hope that God is in charge of this world, I don’t think I would be able to pray, work, advocate, and act toward the peace that God wants us to live in with one another. Even in my grief for our world and our church family; indeed, because of my grief, I cling to the promise of the reign of God, when there will be no more mourning or crying or death or disease or gun violence.


Come, let us gather for worship this Ascension Sunday in person or on Facebook live. I am preaching from Luke 24.44-53 and my sermon title is What is To Come. Tom Martucci will play the anthem, “Awesome is the Lord Most High” and will lead us in our other musical offerings. We will have a special time of prayer, to mourn and acknowledge our sorrow, and then seek what God is calling us to do as witnesses of God’s love in our world.


It has been a week, but God is still sovereign, beloved of God. God is still sovereign.


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


Pastor Trish


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