Pastor's Corner


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! 

Take Me to the Water

posted Oct 25, 2019, 12:05 PM by Tricia Sheffield



Greetings of grace and peace to you!


I’m back from my vacation in Vermont, and truly, it was a wonderful time. I was able to relax, refresh, and rejuvenate my body and soul.


One of the reasons I love Vermont is for all of the various aspects of water that one can find there. Certainly, the mountains and valleys are majestic, but oh, the water. Almost everywhere you go, there are babbling brooks, creeks, rivers, lakes, and yes, waterfalls, sometimes even spilling out right on the side of the road! I make it my mission to visit as many waterfalls as I can when I’m in Vermont. This time I saw one in Warren, next to the Warren Store. Later that day, I traveled down the road to Moss Glen Falls. The next day was Quechee Gorge, and last was Thundering Brook Falls. What attracts me to the falls is their thundering sound and power as they go over rocks and boulders, carving out new spaces to flow, and their intensely swirling motion. It gives me a feeling of being both awestruck and at peace. After watching them for a while, I like to walk downstream from the falls and follow the course of the water, where it usually ends up in a gentle, babbling brook. As I trace the changing water’s path, there is something holy here for me, and I’m reminded of the waters of my baptism. Admittedly, that water was not nearly as roaring as a waterfall or even a rushing stream, but the water in the font was just as powerful. 


When I was baptized at sixteen, I was immersed in a baptismal pool, probably a much different experience than most of us. Although I’m no longer in the denomination of my youth, my current understanding of that moment — when I was signed and sealed into the covenant of love with God, when I belonged, body and soul — is for me just as potent as the mighty nature of the falls. My baptism assures me that I am forever God’s child and there is nothing in this world that can ever change that truth (Romans 8.38-39).


This Sunday, Reformation Sunday, we will have the joy-filled opportunity to celebrate another truth — that it is by grace we are saved through faith, as we renew the covenantal vows of our baptism. After the sermon, all will be invited to the font as we remember our baptism, the moment when we were signed and sealed in the covenant, forever claimed as God’s child. And, as we stir the water and place it on our heads, may we listen for what we most need to hear from God right now. The Joyful Noise Adult Choir will bless our souls with the anthem “On Faith Alone.” I will be preaching from Joel 2.23-29 and Luke 18.9-14 and my sermon title is Guilt-Grace-Gratitude. In addition, we will have some very special guests worshiping with us, the children of Rev. William Coventry, faithful servant and pastor of MRC for twenty-five years. Our coffee hour will be in Coventry House as a way to welcome them “home.”


I look forward to being back with you in God’s house this Sunday as we pray with grateful hearts, Come now, God, and send your Spirit among us, trouble for us this water of memory and imagination. Send your Spirit to enliven our praise, to strengthen our hands, to guide us in work and play, in service and love, to assure us once more and again of your love.


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


Pastor Trish

Even the Critters Know

posted Oct 11, 2019, 12:30 PM by Tricia Sheffield

Grace and peace to you!


This Sunday is one of my favorite Sundays on our church calendar. It’s the Blessing of the Animals! Certainly, there is joy in God’s house every time we worship together, but what I love about this Sunday is the chaotic rejoicing that happens when people bring their animal companions for a blessing. The occasional bark, a soft meow, and the sound of the birds around us all remind me that there is something special about worshiping God outside in creation. Perhaps, this was how worship was first intended. 


In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light . . . 


And it was so. God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good.


So begins the Book of Genesis, illustrating God’s creative power through light and darkness, water and dry land, swarms of living creatures, birds, cattle, wild animals, creeping things, and finally humans. When God created, God had a vision for the world to be one of unity, peace, and order in a covenantal relationship.


Wonderfully, I get to witness God’s vision almost every day as the beautiful creatures of Olivia’s Forest amble in for their morning or evening feeding. After four years of living in Coventry House, I have borne witness to generations of critters allowing me to share in their world. Some have stayed around all this time, while others have moved on or died. To be sure, tending to my “farm,” I’ve been given an extraordinary gift from God as to how all of creation may live in peace. Sure, there are squabbles between the deer of who gets to eat the corn first, complete with a hoof whacking on the backside of the one who is eating, usually followed by a snort of disapproval. The birds often contend with one another for the best perch on the feeder, pushing the other aside with his or her wings and letting out a squawk of dismay. And the chipmunks and squirrels squeak out their claim to territory as to who gets the few niblets of corn left over by the deer, or the seeds dropped on the ground by the birds. I’ve lost one “barn” cat, but another litter came and now I have Chloe, with Mama Molly and Father Charlie still going strong outside and greeting me with a sweet meow.


There’s snorting; there’s feathers flying; there’s squeaking; there’s meowing. But, they all manage to live in harmony and peace together. And because they have negotiated this peace, guess what? Every creature eventually gets something to eat, miraculously trusting me enough — a human — not to harm them and to provide food.


This Sunday we will celebrate the swarms of living creatures, birds, cattle, wild animals, and creeping things as examples of the harmonious, peaceable kingdom. Please bring your beloved furry, feathery, slippery, and scaly companions to worship with us humans. I will be preaching from Genesis 1.1-5, 26-31 and Ephesians 1.9-10 and my sermon title is God’s Speech Creature. What’s more, during worship the children will make Pine Cone Bird Feeders for all who are in attendance to take home for our avian friends. Also, we would be grateful if you could volunteer your time and talents tomorrow (Saturday) at 3 PM to help Lynn Scarano put up the canopies for our worship.


Unity. Peace. Order. Covenant. This is God’s will and purpose for the world, and you know what? Even the critters know it. Maybe one day, humans will too.


It’s going to be a glorious day of worship and I look forward to celebrating it with you on the Great Lawn!


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


Pastor Trish

World Communion Sunday and Some Amazing God-is-Great News

posted Oct 4, 2019, 11:13 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Grace and peace to you!


I first want to thank you, beloved of Middletown Reformed Church, for your love of all God’s people, and for the face of Christ I witnessed in each of you during our congregational meeting last Sunday. As your pastor, it was overwhelming. For those who were unable to attend, please know we were unanimous in saying that no matter what happens with the outcome of Vision 2020, our church will continue to be a place where all people, especially our LGBTQ siblings in Christ, are welcome at God’s table of grace and into the full life of the church. After stories were shared and tears were shed, I felt — and possibly heard — a collective sigh of relief as we realized we can now begin to move forward in freedom and joy to the ministry God has called us to do.


Not only did we rejoice in our call of welcome and affirmation for all people, but we also launched our new Capital Campaign called 24 for 24. As I wrote last week, this campaign is focused on the repair and restoration of the front steps of the church. The campaign was received quite well and we got several pledges and some donations.


But then, you’ll never believe what happened the Monday after our meeting. I was approached by two people — who will forever remain anonymous — who said they were each donating $25,000 to the project because God had moved their hearts to repair the steps as soon as possible. My goodness! You can imagine my reaction! I shed tears of joy and gratitude when they told me their intention, and all week I’ve been giving praise and thanks to God for such generosity and faithfulness. 


The one request from our donors is that the 24 for 24 Campaign continue because there is still much that we need to do around the church. For example, we need to paint the sanctuary and repair the plaster and ceiling tiles as the interior of the church has not been painted in over 40 years; the steeple also needs to be painted; we still would like an accessibility ramp for the Education Building so that all people may be welcomed and participate in the events in this building; and the list could go one. But my goodness, again! I still am walking around in amazement at how the Holy Spirit moved our congregation in so many ways this week. God is good . . . all the time! I am grateful, so very grateful for your faithful witness to love in our community.


I hope to see you this Sunday at 10:30 AM when we will rejoice in God’s extravagant love and grace. It is World Communion Sunday and worship will be adapted from “The Communion of Saints: Resources from the Worldwide Church” by Anne E. Zaki. This will be a multi-vocal, multi-gender, multi-lingual, intergenerational worship that acknowledges the unity of the Church Universal. Think how beautiful it will be as we participate with people of faith around the globe, all gathering around the Lord’s Table on this very special Sunday. What a wonderful illustration for the potential of the body of Christ! Our New Jericho Choir will be singing; the Joyful Noise Adult Choir will lead us in congregational singing; and  Deborah Burke, Diane Grady, Dan Pannebaker, and Izaak Thorpe will be our featured ensemble, with Jacie Thorpe on percussion. And after worship 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 the church. 


It is going to be a glorious day of worship and I look forward to celebrating it with you!


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


Pastor Trish

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