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Welcome to St. Paul's

Many of us have come from different faith traditions; some from no tradition. However, all of us have been drawn to this sacred place seeking answers to life's deeper questions. 

As an intergenerational community of faith, we celebrate God's graciousness by proclaiming in word and deed that God's love is abundant and unconditional. Our spiritual commitment to social justice and ministry beyond our walls calls us to individual and collective action.

Wherever you are on your journey with, or toward, God, from any tradition or none, you are welcomed and invited to experience God's life-giving grace and peace with us at St. Paul's.

SUNDAY MORNINGS AT ST. PAUL'S

please see "Weekly Calendar" below for details

8:00 -- Contemplative Communion Service in Chapel with time for silence and shared reflections on the readings

9:00 -- Christian Education for All Ages:  Sunday School and Youth Group in Lower Level, Adult Education in Lichtenberger Room (September through June)

10:00 -- Holy Communion with Music, Choir and Sermon in the Sanctuary

11:00 -- Coffee and Conversation

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Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9 – Psalm 15 – James 1:17-27 – Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

You must understand this, my beloved:let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness[1].

 If ever there were a scripture passage for the days in which we live, this would be it. If ever we needed the spiritual remedy that these verses offer, the time would be now. It seems to me that anger threatens to tear us apart and devour us, in our communities, in our nation, and in the world, if we do not do something about it, and soon.

Perhaps it is because video is so much more readily available now, on television, YouTube, and social media – every day, it seems, we have access to racist rants, grocery store scuffles, road rage, angry white supremacists marching in the streets, politicians denouncing one another, and more. But it has always been there, here, among us, wherever human beings bump up against one another and their needs – or perceived needs – come into conflict. Anger is natural, the scientists and psychologists tell us. When we perceive a threat to our safety or the safety of someone we love, when an irritant becomes just too strong to be ignored, the reptile part of our brain springs into action to deal with the problem. Adrenaline surges into our body; our heartbeat increases.

And the part of our brain that governs reason, memory, and calm analysis – well, that goes into hibernation for a while, until action is taken and the threat has been neutralized. When we are angry, we are less able to consider the consequences of our actions – we lash out in ways that we might not otherwise do if we were thinking clearly. The ancient Christian fathers and mothers, especially in the desert monastic communities, knew the perils of anger. Evagrius of Pontus, who lived in the late 4th century, called anger “the most fierce passion.” He wrote,

[Anger] is defined as a boiling and stirring up of wrath against one who has given injury – or is thought to have done so. It constantly irritates the soul and above all at the time of prayer it seizes the mind and flashes the picture of the offensive person before one’s eyes. Then there comes a time when it persists longer, is transformed into indignation, stirs up alarming experiences by night. This is succeeded by a general debility of the body, malnutrition with its attendant pallor, and the illusion of being attacked by poisonous wild beasts.[2]

Vivid, but pretty accurate, wouldn’t you say? I especially love the poisonous wild beasts part. Evagrius was a good psychologist as well as a theologian. We know that unmanaged anger takes its toll on our bodies over time – increasing anxiety, high blood pressure, stomach problems. Not to mention the toll it takes on those around us. Spousal and child abuse, bullying, and harassment are only some of the tragic effects of anger that has gone unchecked.

The admonition in the letter of James to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger is a wise one – essentially the first century equivalent of “count to ten.” The way to deal with anger is not, contrary to conventional wisdom, to vent, but to breathe, slow down, take time to consider the deeper cause of our distress, and find ways to deal with the issue calmly and respectfully. Evagrius, too, had suggestions. He wrote, Do not give yourself over to your angry thoughts so as to fight in your mind with the one who has vexed you…[it] darkens the soul.[3] It darkens the soul. My own experience with anger tells me this is most certainly true.

But there is such a thing as righteous, holy anger, right? Anger that propels us to work for justice, that shows us when something isn’t as it should be, that’s okay, isn’t it? We should be angry when immigrant children are separated from families, when spouses are abused, when systemic racism leaves young black men dead in the streets and eviscerates whole communities. One of my favorite blessings, which Jeff sometimes uses here and which I have used many times at other parishes, is the Franciscan blessing that says, May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people. Anger at these things signals our understanding of God’s love for the world and our alignment with God’s work of healing the world’s pain.

So yes, there is such a thing as righteous, holy anger. But here’s a question: How can we tell if our anger is righteous, or unrighteous? What is the difference in the way these two kinds of anger feel? What is the signal within us that our anger is justified and therefore holy?

I watch a lot of detective dramas – mostly British. One of the most common plot devices is that initially someone is arrested for a crime who, it turns out, is innocent. Often, as the suspect is brought in or out of the police station or the courthouse, a mob of angry citizens swarms the suspect. These people are furious, their faces distorted with anger – they scream, point, even spit on this person who they are certain has committed a terrible crime and must be brought to justice. In their minds, this is a holy wrath, completely justified. In reality, however, they are persecuting an innocent victim.

In the moment, this rage against someone who is falsely accused feels exactly the same as anger against a “real” criminal. Our anger is incapable of knowing whether we are righteous or not, because our ability to sort out what is true and what is not has been, in the moment, shoved out of the way, just like a playground bully shoves another child into the dirt. Righteous anger and unrighteous anger feel exactly the same when we are in the middle of them. Anger by itself cares nothing for justice – it cares only for vengeance.

There is a reason why half a century ago the civil rights movement worked so hard to train its members in nonviolence – because they knew, firsthand, how anger does not discriminate between those who “deserve” punishment and those who do not. How it distorts our vision and corrodes the soul. How, as the author of the letter of James reminds us: Your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Anger is natural. It may even be justified. But it is also a mirror that distorts what we see reflected back to us. When we look and live through the lens of anger, we are cut loose from God, and from our true identity.

So how do we stay anchored in our true identity? Into what mirror shall we look to remember what we are like, and who we are meant to be? As Christians, we turn to the face of Jesus, who is the Word of God Incarnate. Perhaps we fix our eyes on an icon of Christ, who gazes back at us with solemn and strong love. We read and meditate on stories in the gospels, asking Jesus to be present with us and in us. Perhaps we practice contemplative prayer, releasing our troubled thoughts with every breath. Or we chant the Jesus Prayer – Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

We confess our sins and receive forgiveness. We take Christ’s Body and Blood into our own bodies and receive the unmerited grace of God. And we know ourselves and all the world loved, absolutely and abundantly. This, as the letter of James puts it, is the implanted Word that has the power to save our souls. This is where we find the righteousness of God, now and always.

 

[1] James 1:19-20

[2] Evagrius Ponticus, The Praktikos & Chapters on Prayer. Cistercian Publications, 1972, p.18.

[3] Praktikos, p. 22.

This week at St. Paul's
Monday, September 10 7:00 am Yoga Lichtenberger Room
Wednesday, September 12 7:00 pm Choir Rehearsal Choir Room
The YARD SALE is coming this weekend: September 8 !

  

 

The annual GIANT St. Paul's yard sale is scheduled for this coming Saturday September 8. Volunteers will be needed for sorting and set-up this week (up through Friday night), all day Saturday, including clean up folks later that afternoon and evening. Contact Stephen Estes-Smargiassi (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or the church office to sign up (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).  Of course, we're looking for your stuff as well. You may bring books, clothes, toys, household goods, working electronics (with all necessary cords) and furniture to the Great Hall any time prior to the sale, including bikes.

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New Format for our Worship Bulletins
This coming Sunday, September 9, we will be introducing a new format for our worship bulletins that all parishioners will use. The larger font and larger booklet will make it more readable, and our environmental impact will remain the same as the new format uses the same amount of paper as our previous folded booklet. Let us know how you like it!
Confirmation & Reception into the Episcopal Church
Saturday, October 27 (Sign-up this Sunday; preparation starts soon!)

If you are an adult who would like to be confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church, there is an opportunity to do so at a Charles River Deanery Confirmation on October 27 (This is when the youth class from St. Paul's will be confirmed). To prepare, we'll spend around six weeks meeting regularly for bible study and prayer (the day and time will be determined by the availability of the group). If you are interested, or if you would like to serve as a mentor for an adult being confirmed or received, please contact the Rev'd Elise Feyerherm after our worship services on Sundayor email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

School Supplies Collection for Mission Sunday: September 9 and 16

Dear St Paul's,

September is "back to school" month for students, teachers, and even Sunday School.  We are looking forward to celebrating and blessing the new Sunday School classrooms and having the annual blessing of the backpacks.

   

There are many causes for celebration. Let's share our joy and our treasures in a gesture of giving.  The Mission Sunday team will be collecting school supplies for the B-SAFE program in Boston.  We would like to collect any new school supplies that elementary and middle school students would use in an after school program.  Some examples are listed below.  We will have boxes to collect donations on Sunday, September 9 and Sunday, September 16.

Construction Paper

Sketch Paper

Copier Paper

Scissors

Calculators

Glue (Elmer's wet glue or glue sticks)

Colored Pencils

Markers

Ball Point Pens

Thank you,

Melissa Dulla This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it."> This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Grand Opening Celebration of our Newly Renovated Lower Level !!
September 16

Please come to church on September 16 and celebrate the grand opening of our newly renovated lower level. After the 10 am service we will process together and bless the new space. Refreshments will follow!

 

Blessing of the Backpacks: September 16

On Sunday, September 16, all backpacks and supplies will be blessed at the Blessing of the Backpacks during the 8 and 10am services. All students and teachers of all ages are invited to bring their backpacks, briefcases, and totes to the service for this special blessing!

Liturgy Group

We would like to gather a group of folks with interests in the various components of liturgy to advise the clergy and work together to shape worship at St. Paul's. These components include the liturgical seasons, music, physical environment, seating, and ornamentation, liturgical rites and texts, altar vessels, and more. A special opportunity comes this fall with an extended Advent season, beginning November 11 and continuing through December 23 (see www.theadventproject.org for more information on a 7-week Advent). If you are interested in participating in this group, please contact the Rev'd Elise Feyerherm at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Kind Acts: The $5 Project

I have given the $5.00 to Generations for books for this year's programs. Generations is an organization of over 300 older adults who are trained as reading coaches and read weekly with children grades 1-2 in many Boston schools in Revere, Brighton and West Roxbury.

                              ~ Martha Curtis

 

On June 10, twenty volunteers received an envelope containing a $5 bill. The volunteers were instructed to use the $5 to do something kind: help someone in need, brighten someone's day, etc. Volunteers have been sharing their stories in this space and we invite others to join us in the $5 Project. Please submit your short story to Georgia Smith at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Faith-Rooted Organizing Workshop: September 15

On September 15 Episcopal City Mission is hosting a Faith-Rooted Organizing workshop for individuals and groups from congregations. This day-long training and community building will help you develop the skills, spiritual grounding and strategies for your community to respond to injustice. In this urgent moment when the effects of racism are impacting our immigration and mass incarceration systems and we experience regular threats to civil liberties, we invite you to join us for prayer, community building, and action to learn faith-rooted approaches to organizing. Come and share what you are learning so that we have the tools to respond in a prayerful, skillful and powerful manner.

We will cover the following topics:

  • Grounding our justice work in spiritual wisdom and practice
     
  • How to tell your story and share it to build relationships
     
  • Dynamics of power and how we build power for the purpose of justice
     
  • How systems of racism perpetuate injustice in Massachusetts
     
  • Ways of taking action to transform injustice
     

When: Saturday, September 15 from 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m

Where: The Cathedral of St. Paul at 138 Tremont Street - Sproat Hall

Suggested Donation: $25 per person for food and materials

To Enroll: Register for the event here.

(for print) Register Here: https://tinyurl.com/FROatECM-Register

For more information contact 

Dan Gelbtuch - Manager of Faith-Rooted Leadership Development

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Yoga Ministry: Last class will be Monday, September 17

For the past few years, our parishioner Martha Curtis has been leading weekly yoga classes at St. Paul's. We are so grateful to her and her generosity of time and spirit. Martha's work schedule is changing a bit come this fall and she will no longer be able to continue in this ministry at St. Paul's.

 

The good news is that all of us are welcome to attend her yoga classes twice a week at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Brookline on Walnut Street, 6:30-7:45am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We know how much Martha's class has come to mean in the lives of those who participated; we will miss you Martha, and THANK YOU for this ministry offering!

Scripture Group has a New Focus for 2018-19

Scripture group will resume meeting this month on Tuesday September 25 from 7:30-9:00pm in the Lichtenberger Room. This year we have decided to try something new. We will be using Amy-Jill Levine's book Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi. Each month we will read and discuss a chapter and the parables she refers to. This would be a great time to try out Scripture Group! Order a copy of the book from your local bookstore or favorite internet site and come join us. It is not necessary to come every time, or commit to the entire year. Sept. 25: Introduction: "How we domesticate Jesus's provocative stories," pp. 1-26  email Leah Rugen with any This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

REGISTER NOW for the St. Paul's All Parish Retreat!

 

 

Click on the following link to register:

  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TFHCNQR  

 

For more information about our All Parish Retreat, please contact Elise Feyerherm This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Madeleine Taylor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,  or Jennifer Schamel This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Are you planning a Baptism?

Our next dates for baptismal services this year are October 7 and November 4. If you would like to schedule a baptism at St. Paul's, please be in touch with Jill in the parish office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and she will put you in touch with our clergy and aquaint you with our baptismal application process.

Serving us this week

Preacher   

The Rev. Jeffrey W. Mello    

Presider  The Rev. Elise A. Feyerherm  
Deacon  The Ven. Pat Zifcak 
Director of Music and Organist  Andrew E. Clarkson 
Verger  Kendall Gray 
Server  Flora Fried 
Crucifer  Sarah Dulla 
Torchbearers  Viola Schultzberg and Lena Schultzberg 
Lectors  Roger House and Alan Fried 
Prayers of the People  Adelaide Xie 
Chalice Bearers  E. Lorraine Baugh and Andrea Brue 
Healing Prayers  Betsy Munzer and LInda Sanches 
Offering Counters  Barbie Maniscalco, Sharlene Wing, and Leah Rugen   
Greeters  Adelaide Xie, Beverly Estes-Smargiassi, John Ahonen, and Judy Rice 
Ushers  Ushers Team
Coffee Hour Host  Brue-Fried Family  

Click here to view the server spreadsheet. If you need to make a change, please find someone to swap with and let your ministry leader know so that the server spreadsheet can be updated. 

Celebrations and Prayers 

 

Celebrations 

We remember and celebrate the birthdays of Megan Moore, Becky Teiwes, Lindsey Toomey, John Munzer, John Ferguson, Faye Mucha, Dale Holzworth, Jonathan Bain, Betsy Munzer, Elizabeth Schrader, and Maggie Taylor.  

Memorials   

We remember especially Elizabeth Evans Jones, Hugh C. Jones, Sr., Hugh C. Jones, Jr., and Benjamin Jones, in whose memory the altar flowers are given by Hugh D. Jones. 

 

Prayers       

Jennifer L., Felina R., the Children and Staff of Mil Milagros, Janet R., David F., Kendall G., Ruth R., Alexander T., Gerke V., Deborah F., Kitty C., Fran C., Nan C., Sue H., Marnie, Shelley, Harry B., Faye M., Sam K., Susan P., Linda C., Roger H. Sr., Anne C., Tracey G., Henry L., Maurice O., Alissa P., the O'Meara/Bransfield Families, Gail W., Bill H., Judy H., Alex F., those in the military: Lucas S., Hana L., and Jamie C., and those preparing for Ordination: Tammy Hobbs Miracky and Lauren Lukason. 

Scripture Readings 

Isaiah 35:4-7a; Psalm 146; James 2:1-10, 14-17; Mark 7:24-37

Wherever you are on your journey with or toward God,
you are welcome and invited at St. Paul's!

Abundant Blessings,

St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Brookline

This Sunday at St. Paul's: September 9, 2018

The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

8:00 am

 
Contemplative Service of Holy Communion Chapel 
9:00 am

Adult Formation 

Nursery/Childcare

Great Hall 

Lichtenberger Room 

10:00 am

Holy Eucharist with Sermon  and Choir 

Sanctuary  
11:15 am  Coffee Hour  Great Hall 
11:30 am  Prison Ministry Group  Lichtenberger Room  
  • Adult Formation: Join us this coming Sunday at 9am in the Great Hall for the first in a series entitled God of Wrath? Confronting our Misconceptions about the Old Testament. Many people assume that the Old Testament shows primarily a God of wrath and punishment, but this is a caricature. Learn how to read the Old Testament with historical insight and an appreciation for the way our Hebrew Scriptures reveal God's creativity and compassion. Children's formation and childcare will be provided so that parents will be free to join the adult session.
  • Prison Ministry Group: Please join us this coming Sunday for our next meeting at 11:30 am in the Lichtenberger Room. At our last meeting, we watched a group of videos entitled  "We are Witnesses," produced by the Marshall Project which are  available freely online at https://www.themarshallproject.org/witnesses. These videos are 2 to 6 minutes in length and feature people who have been involved in the criminal justice system in some way telling their own stories in their own words. Former inmates, parents of inmates, crime victims and their families, police officers, prison guards, judges, public defenders - a cross-section of the many people affected by mass incarceration. If you have questions, please contact Leahanne Sarlo at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

1 Kings 19:4-8 – Psalm 34:1-8 – Ephesians 4:25-5:2 – John 6:35, 41-51

 Ordinary…and holy

The objection, to any reasonable person, is a valid one: Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’? These are not stupid people. They are also faithful, spiritual people. They are asking a legitimate question – how can someone so familiar, so utterly ordinary, be the source of eternal life?

We forget, I think, just how ordinary Jesus would have seemed to people around him. No doubt he was a powerful preacher. In his hands, bread and fish multiplied in miraculous ways; with his touch the blind, lame, and possessed became healthy and whole. But preachers and healers were a dime a dozen in Galilee and Judea – plenty of folks spoke powerfully of the Reign of God, and could draw on God’s power to bless and to heal. This is not what makes Jesus unique, or even unusual.

The confusion comes because of Jesus’ claim to be the bread that came down from heaven. It’s not about what he has done – it’s about who he is. And who Jesus is is at the heart of the gospel of John – Jesus, the ordinary boy from Nazareth, the first-century Jew with homespun clothes and dusty feet, is the divine Word made flesh. They know where he comes from. They actually do – this is not a mistake. They are not wrong; this Jesus of Nazareth comes from exactly where they think he does. The question is, can this ordinary human being also come from God? Can he actually be God? Can something or someone whose earthly origins we can verify be, at the same time, of heavenly origin as well, utterly transcendent and mysterious and able to open for us the gate of eternal life? Can the completely ordinary also be deeply and powerfully holy?

We give voice to this reality every time we proclaim in the Nicene Creed that Jesus Christ is: God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God; begotten, not made, of one being with the Father, through whom all things were made. For our sake he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became truly human.

This is what the doctrine of the Incarnation means. Completely ordinary and human, and utterly and fully God.

But there is probably something a bit abstract for us in this proclamation, because Jesus as a human being is not standing right in front of us. Not like he was standing before his questioners in the Galilean town of Capernaum. Not dusty Jesus, straggly Jesus, locally grown Jesus, but Jesus presented in the evangelical package of the gospels.

So let’s bring it a little closer to home. Let’s circle around this question of ordinariness and holiness using something we can actually get our hands on. Let’s talk about bread.

Flour, water, honey, molasses, baking powder, and salt. Those are the ingredients in the bread we have been baking for the Eucharist the past few weeks and will be continuing to use through August. We know where all these ingredients come from. Most recently, from Stop and Shop, or Shaw’s, or Market Basket, or maybe Trader Joe’s. Before that, from the Midwestern plains, New England beehives, and the public waterworks of Brookline. We know exactly where this stuff came from.

We know exactly how all the ingredients came together. We know whose hands mixed and rolled out the dough; there is absolutely no mystery here. These round, flat loaves could just as easily become dinner rolls or coffee hour snacks, as they were just three weeks ago. So how could these utterly ordinary loaves of bread become, really and truly, the Body of Christ? How could they possibly be the Bread of Life, come down from heaven? Do we really mean it when we say, The Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven?

One way to make sense of it all, perhaps, is to keep everything on the level of metaphor, to say it’s all just a memorial of what Jesus did at the last supper, and that it is simply to remind us, in our heads, not in our bodies, that Jesus calls us to love one another and share what we have. Perhaps the bread and the wine are just part of a meal of remembrance of the past, but do not become Christ’s Body and Blood. This is one way to solve the problem of how something ordinary can be divine, by keeping the two realms apart. By assuming that the ordinary can’t possibly be divine at the same time.

That’s one way to make sense of it all – but our ancient tradition, one that goes back to the earliest generations of Christians, teaches us that this ordinary bread really and truly becomes for us Christ’s Body. This is our belief – our trust – in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Not an idea, and not a distant memory, but a present and powerful reality.

How does this happen? Is it magic? After all, the classic term “hocus pocus” comes from the Latin words of the ancient mass: hoc est enim corpus meum – this is my body.

Magic is when human beings, through the right words and actions, try to compel supernatural forces to do their bidding. We are not doing magic – God cannot be compelled to enter into the bread and the wine.

All it requires is God’s word of promise and God’s free decision to be ordinary, that the ordinary may be holy. Remember the ancient creed – for our sake he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became truly human. What happens here, at this table, is because of, and only because of, God’s promise and Jesus’ pledge: This is my Body, this is my Blood. What God promises, God gives in full – not in theory, not in the eye of the beholder, but actually and effectually. Jesus has promised that when we gather to give thanks over bread and wine, he will be here; not just as a visitor but as our very food and drink. Our only task is to trust in his promise and take him into our bodies, so that he can become part of each and every cell. So that as he becomes part of each of us, we become part of him, and through him, linked forever to each other as one Body. This is what God can do and will do when we trust in the promise and say yes.

When the Body of Christ is placed in your hand, and when you drink from the Cup of his Blood, the response is “Amen.” Yes. Yes that the Word made Flesh is truly here for the eating. Yes to everything that will change in your life because Jesus Christ is in you. Yes to giving your life to the world, because Jesus, who gave his flesh for the life of the world, fills every cell in your body.

In some churches, the words that accompany the giving of the bread are a little different that those in our prayer book. Instead of The Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven, it is The Body of Christ, given for you. Given for you. That’s important. This is the promise, not only of what Christ has done, but of who we become by means of this sacrament. The Body of Christ, broken, given, and shared – for the life of the world.

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