Pastor's Corner and Sermons


Restoration, Renewal, and Rejoicing

posted Sep 18, 2020, 9:11 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,

Grace and peace to you!

This missive will be more informational than inspirational as I want to share some exciting news about building projects and our upcoming worship schedule.

First, starting on Monday, the painting of the sanctuary will begin! Carl Lindmark, our contractor, has already begun to unload ladders and scaffolding outside of the church. A few volunteers have been preparing for his arrival by taking our memorial plaques off the walls, moving furniture, and cleaning out spaces. We still need a few volunteers to help remove pew cushions and move items in the balcony out of the way of the painters, so if you are willing to volunteer over the weekend, please let me know. I would be grateful! Also, sometime next week the railings for the church steps will be installed. There’s going to be a lot of activity up here at the Fabulous Church of Love, and I am thankful for your generous donations that have made these renovation dreams a reality.

Second, allow me to tell you about the worship we have planned in the upcoming weeks. On September 27 we will gather in the Meditation Garden at 10:30 AM for in person worship. On this Sunday, we will welcome into the family of God through baptism Arya Irene Bussey. And then on October 4, we will worship again in the Meditation Garden at 10:30 AM and baptize into God’s church Cybil Sadie Poyner. Also on the 4th, we will have the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper on the Great Lawn of the church. Lastly, on October 11 we will gather in person once more at 10:30 AM on the Great Lawn for our annual Blessing of the Animals. Please bring your furry and feathery beloved companions to worship and for a blessing. If you are unable to be present in person, know that all services will also be broadcast via Zoom.

But before these upcoming worship services, I look forward to welcoming you to Zoom church this Sunday, September 20 when we will gather online at 10:15 AM to chat with one another, and then worship together at 10:30 AM. I will be preaching from Matthew 19.27-20.16 and my sermon title is Do ut des. If you would like the Zoom link for worship, please email sheffield.tricia@gmail.com. In addition, for those church members who are local, if you have not already responded to the Church Reopening Committee’s question sent to you via email, please do so by Saturday.

I am rejoicing not only for the renovation and restoration projects that are taking place, but also that we will be with each other in person to witness the joyful celebration of welcoming two little ones into the beloved family of God, pray, read Scripture, hear music, and listen for the word of God. In this time of coronatide, such things encourage me and give me hope, and I pray they do the same for you.

In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you. -- Pastor Trish

Worship and Music for September 13

posted Sep 18, 2020, 9:09 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,
We understand there were some connectivity issues, either through the internet at the Parsonage or through Zoom this morning, especially during our shared screen YouTube links, which made for a disjointed presentation of the music. For this, we are sorry. If you would like to watch the music in a more seamless, less choppy manner, please go to these links:
For our worship, please go to this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CJfIDxFcFw
Again, sincerest apologies, especially to Ms. Judy who works so tirelessly to bring us beautiful music.
Blessings of peace for your Sabbath,
Pastor Trish

We Remember

posted Sep 11, 2020, 9:19 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Greetings of peace to on this day of lament and remembrance.


It’s hard to believe that it’s been nineteen years since the bells of The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine woke me up the morning of September 11, 2001. Bells, and the phone incessantly ringing. I had just quit two of the three jobs I had been working, and was getting ready to begin my position as adjunct professor at Columbia University. That Tuesday was my day to sleep in. My class began on Wednesday. I was exhausted. I ignored the bells and the phone, until I realized the bells weren’t pealing; they were tolling. Something’s wrong, I thought. I grumpily got up and listened to the messages on the answering machine. Family members had been calling and were saying something about planes crashing into the World Trade Center, asking if we were okay, and had my stepdaughter Miranda gotten out from downtown, as she went to school right next to the World Trade Center. A message from Miranda’s mother: planes had crashed into the towers and they were walking from Tribeca to our place uptown. I turned on the television, and then I saw it. The towers were on fire. I watched in horror and panic as footage of the crashes kept playing over and over. And then, behind the news commentator’s face, there was a rumble, as one of the towers collapsed. I realized I had just watched hundreds, if not thousands, of people die. And then the second tower collapsed. More death. My parents called and told me to get out, but I couldn’t. The city was locked down.


It was a long four hours before I knew if Miranda was alive, and another two after that before I got to hug her, weeping as I held her close. That night, as I looked out the bedroom window facing south toward downtown, I knew our world would never be the same. We had lost so much, and I was fearful of what the next day would bring. Another attack? For several months afterwards, I lived in a state of fear every time I got on the subway, and if truth be told, I was constantly in a space of lament.


Lament. We don’t do that too often as a church body. People want peppy and upbeat and joyous. But sometimes, we need to lament. As theologian Walter Brueggemann describes it, “Lament is our most vigorous mode of faith. It is a spirituality of protest and is our way of recognizing that all is not right in the world.” Lament holds God accountable for what has gone wrong, doesn’t seem just, or just plain aches in our souls. When we raise our voices in protest and cry out, “No!” this witnesses to a protesting, active relationship with God, and not to a subservient inactive relationship.


As one person observed, lament is the resistance to new life and also the embrace of new life. Lament is the cry that the world should not be the way it is, and the vigorous belief that the world can experience and have new life. Lament can move us to rejoicing so that even within our cries of protest and grief, we know the Lord is near, hears us, holds us, and through our lament, we have the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding. Lament believes in hope.


Come to worship believing in hope this Sunday. We will gather online at 10:15 AM to chat with one another, and then worship together at 10:30 AM. Our music was recorded in our beautiful sanctuary. I am singing the anthem “Even If.” Our Sermon-Prayer-Reflection is “Go Down, Moses” with Judith Daugherty on piano and Brian Kolins on drums. I will be preaching from Matthew 18.21-25 and my sermon title is The Way of Forgiveness. Please email sheffield.tricia@gmail.com for the Zoom link.


And then come to the Meditation Garden at 6 PM for our 9/11 Service of Remembrance and Hope. We will read the names of those we lost from Middletown on that day, pray, and read Scripture. In addition, there will be special music from Nancy Scharff. Please bring your own chair and a mask as we will practice social distancing. If there is inclement weather, we will have the service via Zoom.


Every 9/11, I lament. We lament. I cry out to God.


I am tired of reliving every year the pain and grief of that day, for my body continues to remember and holds the trauma. But in this act of lament, I know, I am assured, I am convinced that the Spirit is near, and groans with me in sighs too deep for words. As Brueggemann describes this faithfully defiant act of lamenting, “It is in voicing despair that the soul is most keenly alive to the reality of God. The power of hope is enacted in the utterance of despair.” Let us continue to claim the power of hope . . . even if.


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


Pastor Trish

YouTube Link for Worship, September 6

posted Sep 11, 2020, 9:16 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Grace and peace to you! First, I'm writing to let you know we have a new and updated YouTube channel: MRC: A Fabulous Church of Love. Please subscribe to our channel where we will upload various worship videos for you to watch. Second, here is the link for last Sunday's worship, Summer Review: The Word in Scripture and Song: 

I hope you are staying safe and healthy!

Blessings of peace,

Pastor Trish

Summer Revue: The Word in Scripture and Song

posted Sep 4, 2020, 9:57 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Greetings of peace to you for this last weekend of summer in the Northeast!


I am looking forward to being with you this Sunday when we will gather online at 10:15 AM to chat with one another, and then worship together at 10:30 AM. I am excited to share that we have planned a very unique service for this Sunday. Our Director of Music, Judith Daugherty, has selected some soul-stirring songs from our past summer worship accompanied by the Scripture reading for that particular Sunday. We will praise God who is holy, loving, faithful, and full of grace through a Summer Revue: The Word in Scripture and Song. This beautiful time of music will feature “Let Justice Flow Down” Sarah Gordon, soloist; “O Love, That Wilt Not Let Me Go” Judith Daugherty, piano; “Water Life” Sarah Hanvey and Dan Pannebaker, duet; “When a Poor One” Nancy Coffin, soloist; “Change My Heart, O God” Debbie Burke, Diane Grady, and Linda Schueler, trio; and "God Be With You Till We Meet Again” Izaak Thorpe, soloist. Our liturgists are Bob Kinley, Lisa Leidecker, Dan Pannebaker, Terry Gallagher, and Denise Gaeta. We will also celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper so please have bread and juice/wine with you during worship. Lastly, during our Prayers for the People we will have a special blessing for our teachers, administrators, and students as they return to school during this most difficult and challenging time. If you would like the zoom link for our worship, please email me at sheffield.tricia@gmail.com


As we come together this Sunday on Zoom, I invite you to ground yourselves in God’s all encompassing presence as you listen to God’s word and the gift of music, and claim this blessing, Almighty God, victorious Savior, Holy Spirit, you are stronger than the elements, stronger than the shadows, stronger than the fears, stronger than human wills, stronger than the spirits; we  . . .  lift you up with our praise (Celtic Blessings, adapted). 


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


Pastor Trish

Worship for August 30

posted Sep 4, 2020, 9:54 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

For those who were unable to be online with us this morning, here is the link for our worship:

I hope to see you tonight at 6 for our Vespers in the Meditation Garden! Bring a chair and a mask as we will be practicing social distancing.

Blessings for your Sabbath. May it be restful and holy,

Pastor Trish

Rising/Morning

posted Aug 28, 2020, 9:32 AM by Tricia Sheffield   [ updated Aug 28, 2020, 9:33 AM ]

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Grace and peace to you!


I arise today
In the strength of the mighty Creator

In the strength of the rising Savior

In the strength of the life-giving Spirit 

In the strength of the mighty Three

Whose love is One.


I arise today

In the strength of the angels and archangels

In the strength of the prophets and apostles

In the strength of the martyrs and saints


I arise today

In the strength of heaven and earth

In the strength of sun and moon

In the strength of fire and wind


I arise today

In the strength of Christ’s birth and baptism

In the strength of Christ’s death and rising

In the strength of Christ’s judgment to come.


Earlier this week a friend and colleague posted on her FaceBook page the above blessing called “Rising/Morning” from the book Celtic Blessings - Prayers for Everyday Life (I have since purchased the book — of course!).  Something within my soul resounded deeply to the blessing. Perhaps it’s because as my friend said, “The earth is part of the spiritual resources of strength and celebration.” Since then I have made it a practice to go outside in the morning, plant my bare feet in the grass, face toward the East and the rising sun, and pray this blessing. In these times, I have found it so very grounding and also celebratory, and it sets the tone for my day . . . I arise! It occurred to me during my prayers that somehow in the day to day monotony of living in a pandemic and my to-do list, I had forgotten my morning discipline of awakening prayer. Returning to this practice has rejuvenated me in ways that have been surprising to me. Beloved one, do you have a morning ritual of awakening to God? If so, what is it? What about it nourishes you? How does it sustain you in times of joy and in times of grief? I would enjoy sitting in the Meditation Garden and hearing all about this part of your spiritual journey.


I am looking forward to being back with you this Sunday when we will gather online at 10:15 AM to chat with one another, and then worship together at 10:30 AM. I am preaching the last part in our August series Just Amos and my sermon title is The Lord Will Restore, a narrative sermon about an imaginary woman called Lydia who lived in Bethel during the time of Amos’s prophecy (Amos 9.11-15). Also, I’m excited to share a song Ms. Judy found on YouTube for our Sermon-Prayer-Reflection called “O Day of Peace.” Please email me at sheffield.tricia@gmail.com for the Zoom link.


At 6 PM, weather permitting, we have the opportunity to worship together in person in the Meditation Garden for our Vespers service. We will pray, read Scripture, and Mike Steib will be singing “Abide with Me.” What a wonderful way to end our Sabbath by being in God’s garden of peace. We will observe social distancing, so please bring a chair and wear a mask.


Arise dear one! Arise today in the strength of all that is holy, true, and beautiful. See you this Sunday on Zoom!


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


Pastor Trish

Worship for August 16

posted Aug 16, 2020, 9:31 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

For those who were unable to be online this morning, here is the link for today's worship:

I pray you will stay safe and healthy while I am away next week. For today, may your Sabbath be holy and restful.

Blessings of peace,

Pastor Trish

A Date with the Divine Presence

posted Aug 14, 2020, 1:54 PM by Tricia Sheffield

Grace and peace to you!


I am looking forward to being with you this Sunday when we will gather online at 10:15 AM to chat with one another, and then worship together at 10:30 AM. Our music was recorded in the Sanctuary featuring Juliet Gallagher singing our anthem, “Song of Hope.” Juliet will also sing our Benediction “Celtic Blessing.” Our Sermon-Prayer-Reflection is from the World Band called “Song of Hope” — 1,400 musicians from 35 countries playing one song with one mission. I am preaching the third part in our series Just Amos and my sermon title is Let Justice Roll.  


Please note that starting this Monday I am taking the week of August 17-23 off for some rest and rejuvenation. My plan is to take a few day trips around the area, read some books that have been collecting dust on an end table, and be still and know that God is God. I will be logging off of FaceBook, email, and putting my phone away, so I will not be receiving texts or phone calls. By disconnecting from my devices, I hope to practice Sabbath, best described by Barbara Brown Taylor: 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. 


During my Sabbath, Pastor Dawn Seaman of the Community Church of Keyport will be on call for pastoral emergencies. Also, Mark Poyner will lead worship/preach on August 23rd. As I rest, I will be praying that you will continue to be safe and healthy, and that you will take care of one another as you do so well as the Fabulous Church of Love.


Beloved, I pray that in these challenging times you have been practicing some form of Sabbath and having a regular date with the Divine Presence. It is so needed and required for our body, mind, and soul. Not only that, but because we are loved more than we can ask or imagine, God wants to spend time with us so we can have life abundant. And this abundance can’t be accomplished in just a few quick minutes a day, but rather we must practice a Sabbath that is deep, beautiful, long, and listening. May it be so for you.


I will see you on Zoom worship this Sunday!


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


Pastor Trish

Worship for August 9

posted Aug 9, 2020, 9:42 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

For those who were unable to be online this morning, here is the link for our Sunday worship:

I pray you are doing well after Tropical Storm Isaias. If you are in need of anything, please reach out to me. Also, don't forget we have Vespers this evening at 6 in the Meditation Garden.

May your Sabbath be holy and one of rest,

Pastor Trish

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