Pastor's Corner and Sermons


Where is the House of God?

posted Sep 24, 2021, 11:11 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Blessings of Pentecost joy be with you.


This week we returned to our Adult Education gatherings and we are reading/studying An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor (Note: All are welcome to join this study in person or via Zoom). This is my third reading of her book and each time I do so I am drawn to her initial questions,  . . . how had I forgotten that the whole world is the House of God? Who had persuaded me that God preferred four walls and a roof to wide-open spaces? (2 Samuel 7.5-6: “Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle”). Since my first encounter with this observation I have made it a practice to look for signs of God’s presence in the most ordinary places and activities. Today I saw God in Bed, Bath, and Beyond in a person named Lucille. She is a clerk there and is always genuinely friendly, helpful, and ends each interaction with customers with a heartfelt, “God bless you.” In a world where divisiveness is the norm, she was a breath of fresh air for my day.


One would think that after reading a book three times, however, no new insights would pop from the pages anymore. But oh, how wrong that is. For whenever we read a book we are filtering it through the lens of our experiences in the place we find ourselves at that reading. Assuredly, after eighteen months of living in a pandemic I can say my life’s lens has certainly changed. And so, I caught my breath when I read, As important as it is to mark the places where we meet God, I worry about what happens when we build a house for God . . . Do we build God a house so that we can choose when to go see God? Do we build God a house in lieu of having God stay at ours?


I lingered over the page for quite a while thinking back to when our buildings were closed down but we as a church still gathered remotely. At that time, our hearts ached to be physically together in our sanctuary, but we still knew we were together. We knew that God’s presence was with us, no matter how and where we gathered. Now that we can worship in person I hope we have realized that God is not held within four walls; that 121 Kings Highway is not a place we go to when we “choose” to see God, for the House of God is throughout all of creation and the Spirit chooses always to be hovering ever present among us. No, we come to our sanctuary to worship God, and to remind ourselves who we are — children of God — and whose we are — Christ’s own. Our church building is a house of God, not the House of God.


Let us gather at 10:30 AM in person or on FaceBook live (Page: Middletown Reformed Church) this Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost. The Joyful Noise Adult Choir will be singing “You Are the Seed” for our anthem. I will be preaching from Mark 9.33-50 and my sermon title is Salty Christians. In addition, we have resumed congregational singing and since the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is present in our state, and Monmouth County is a high transmission zone for the variant, everyone must wear a mask for worship and indoor church events. Thank you for your cooperation in loving yourself, your neighbor, and keeping everyone safe and healthy.


Come to MRC this Sunday, a house of God for all people, so that when you leave and go out into the world you may be inspired to look for and find the wonder and joy that is the beautiful House of God.


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


Pastor Trish

Worship Link for September 19

posted Sep 20, 2021, 5:33 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace to you!

For those who were unable to attend worship, here is the link to our Rally Day worship: 
Also, in my sermon I asked two questions and I would be grateful to get your reply concerning these questions: What do you dream for your own calling here at MRC? What do you see as the vision for us as a community here and beyond? Please let me hear from you!

The Lord bless you and keep you this week and always,

Pastor Trish

Come Home to Church

posted Sep 17, 2021, 11:27 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Blessings of Pentecost joy be with you.


This Sunday is Rally Day, which means our fall programming resumes. Yes, we are back at it with our ministries, albeit masked and practicing safety and caution. But still, here we go again. We have already started Adult Choir rehearsal, and will begin our Children and Worship teaching schedule, Adult Education study on Thursday evenings, and Bell Choir rehearsal. In addition, we have a special brunch planned after worship in the Education Building. And I goofed last week and forgot to announce our Deacons’ Offering, so we will receive that offering on Sunday.


Beloved, whether you have been attending regularly in person, been away for the summer, or haven’t been to worship for 18 months or more, you are warmly invited to “come home” to church this Sunday. It has been a long and challenging year+ with the pandemic, and being back together to worship our gracious God of hope may be just what you need to refresh and enliven your body and soul. 


Let us gather at 10:30 AM in person or on FaceBook live (Page: Middletown Reformed Church) this Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost. The Joyful Noise Adult Choir will be singing “Thy Word” for our anthem. I will be preaching from Habakkuk 2.1-3 and Acts 2.14-18 and my sermon title is Dreams and Visions. In addition, we have resumed congregational singing and since the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is present in our state, and Monmouth County is a high transmission zone for the variant, everyone must wear a mask for worship and indoor church events. Thank you for your cooperation in loving yourself, your neighbor, and keeping everyone safe and healthy.


The pandemic may have closed down our buildings, but it did not shut down we who are the church. It cannot put on pause the ministry of Christ Jesus. And it will not stop God’s vision of love and grace for the world. 


So, come. Come home to church.


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


Pastor Trish

Worship Links for September 12

posted Sep 13, 2021, 9:24 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace!

For those who were unable to attend worship in person yesterday, here is the link to our Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost worship: https://youtu.be/vJvaWjBHYWc 

In addition, here is the link to our 9/11 Service of Remembrance and Hope, featuring Tim Anderson, vocals; Judith Daugherty, piano; and Mayumi Grasso, cello:  https://youtu.be/1ES9TRwlyrU

Please note that in addition to in person worship, we will be live streaming Sunday worship on our FaceBook page: Middletown Reformed Church.

The Lord bless you and keep you this week and always,

Pastor Trish

'Work with Hope'

posted Sep 10, 2021, 8:43 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Blessings of Pentecost joy be with you!


As many of you have heard, New Jersey Pride made the difficult, yet wise decision to cancel the Asbury Park Pride Parade/Festival scheduled for October 10. When I received the news yesterday evening, I let out a long sigh, and not one of relief. It was a sigh of weariness, frustration, fatigue . . . you name it . . . at a pandemic that keeps going on and on with seemingly no end in sight. And then I remembered an article one of our members sent me earlier in the week called  “Work with Hope” by Rutgers University professor Rachel Hadas. She begins,


Patience is wearing thin. Not only are we all bone-weary of the pandemic; rising hopes have made the current precarious state of confusion and fear, vigorous variants and stubborn vaccine rejection all the more frustrating.


We thought we were almost out of the woods, but there’s no clear end in sight to this forest. And there’s no shortage of other bad and worsening news too, notably the dramatic daily evidence of the catastrophic results of climate change.


How do we weather this welter of bad news? How do we adapt? The same ways human beings always have adapted – grudgingly or stoically, fearfully or fatalistically or frantically.  


Hadas goes on to say, Human beings are more enduring, more adaptable, than we give ourselves credit for. 


And then she challenges us to remember the gift of hope: Yes, hope can be mocking, frustrated and frustrating, when it’s disappointed, when it turns out to have been premature, as happened this summer. But a year ago, who would have dared to hope that the vaccines would be developed so swiftly? What was our hope then? We forget so quickly.


We must try to find a balance between hope, which looks ahead, and the tasks of the present. We must, Hadas adds, Work with hope.


So, after a night of sighing, today I am choosing to “work with hope.” But not just any kind of hope, but hope that surpasses all understanding; hope that believes even when there is unbelief; hope that sees God’s presence in the gloomiest of times; hope that is fierce, relentless, Holy-Spirit-hope; hope that sings — “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ love and righteousness.” 


I look forward to worshiping the God of hope with you at 10:30 AM this Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost. The Joyful Noise Adult Choir is back in the house and they will be singing “Will You Come and Follow Me?” for our anthem. I will be preaching from Psalm 145.8-21 and Mark 8.27-38 and my sermon title is God’s Porch. In addition, we shall resume congregational singing and since the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is present in our state, and Monmouth County is a high transmission zone for the variant, everyone must wear a mask for worship and indoor church events. Thank you for your cooperation in loving yourself, your neighbor, and keeping everyone safe and healthy.


Come, beloved one of God, let us work with hope together!


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


Pastor Trish

Worship Link for September 5

posted Sep 5, 2021, 4:47 PM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace.

For those who were unable to attend worship, here is the link to our Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost worship: https://youtu.be/LRZvAAcP_Yg

Have a safe and happy Labor Day!

May the Lord bless you and keep you,

Pastor Trish

Let us Gather for Worship -- September 5

posted Sep 3, 2021, 10:43 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Blessings of Pentecost joy be with you!


I hope you are safe and well after the remnants of Hurricane Ida moved through our area. What unexpected devastation it brought! Please join me in praying for all those affected by the storm as they recover and rebuild, both in the tri-state area and in Louisiana.


I look forward to being back with you in New Jersey after my sojourn in upstate New York at 10:30 AM this Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost. Our featured musician is Judith Daugherty, and she will be playing “Communion” for our Prelude and “Be Thou My Vision” for our Offertory. I will be preaching from Mark 7.24-37 and my sermon title is Audacious Faith. We will also celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper together at God’s wide open table of grace. In addition, we shall resume congregational singing and since the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is present in our state, and Monmouth County is a high transmission zone for the variant, everyone must wear a mask for worship and indoor church events. Thank you for your cooperation in loving yourself, your neighbor, and keeping everyone safe and healthy.


May the Lord bless you and keep you, dear beloved one of God.


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


Pastor Trish

Worship Link for August 29 and Cabaret Link

posted Aug 29, 2021, 3:33 PM by Tricia Sheffield

Greetings of peace to you!

If you were unable to attend worship this morning, here is the link to our Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost worship: https://youtu.be/95xn1iuLNQ8

In addition, here is the link to our August Cabaret: https://youtu.be/C7wkOxFXKzEEnjoy the music!

Please note that I will be traveling to the Albany, NY area tomorrow to be with and help the family of a dear seminary friend who has cancer and is now in hospice care. I will return on Saturday and will be somewhat reachable throughout the week. I would appreciate your prayers and also prayers for my friend and her family.

The Lord bless you and keep you,

Pastor Trish

Keep the Faith

posted Aug 27, 2021, 6:23 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,


Blessings of Pentecost joy be with you!


Beloved, with all the bad news swirling about in our country and our world, it can sometimes be hard to believe the best about humanity. Even though our faith is grounded in Christ and Christ alone, still, we live in challenging times and it may be difficult to keep the faith. But sometimes, amid the chaos, comes a glimmer of hope. I saw such hope in a video that one of our members posted on Facebook. Even as we continue to pray for the people of Haiti, for the soldiers on the ground and people of Afghanistan, for the people out west enduring wildfires, and for an end to the COVID-19 crisis, I share this video with you “in hope” that it will encourage you as it did me.


A Postcard from 1969: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaMkOES-y3Y


Let us gather in hope and in faith at 10:30 AM this Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost. You are in for such a musical blessing as our featured musicians are Juliet Gallagher and Michelle Reno, and they will be singing “Jesus, We Are Here” for our Prelude; “This is My Commandment” for our Anthem; and “Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying” for our Offertory. We will finish up our August Sermon Series from the Letter of James called “Bible Doing.” I will be preaching from James 3.13-4.3, 7-8a and my sermon title is Heavenly Wisdom, Earthly Peace. Unfortunately, we've run into a snafu with YouTube. In order to stream live, we are now required to have 1,000 subscribers to our channel, which we don’t. That said, we will not be live-streaming worship via YouTube on Sunday.


Please note that since the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 is rising in our state, and Monmouth County is a high transmission zone for the variant, we strongly urge/request that everyone wear a mask for worship and indoor church events. Thank you for your cooperation in loving yourself, your neighbor, and keeping everyone safe and healthy.


Keep the faith, beloved one of God. Keep the faith.


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


Pastor Trish

Worship Link for August 22

posted Aug 24, 2021, 9:55 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear MRC Family and Friends,

Greetings of peace!

For those who were unable to be in worship on Sunday, here is the link to our Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost worship: https://youtu.be/tPirUOpJ3zQ

Unfortunately, we've run into a snafu with YouTube. In order to stream live, we are now required to have 1,000 subscribers to our channel, which we don't. So, we are looking into other ways to livestream on Sunday mornings, possibly doing so on our Facebook page. When I have more information, I will certainly pass it along to you.

May the Lord bless you and keep you this week and always,

Pastor Trish

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