A Time of Transitions
Dear PJs community,
This week, we are highlighting exciting things coming up at St. PJs as we think about transitioning to a new church season, and lean into the transition we are undergoing as a parish. We are looking forward to our Mardi Gras celebration, which will wrap up the season of Epiphany and bring us into Lent, which will be a time to reflect on who we are as a parish and as Episcopalians today!
The tastes of Louisiana gumbo with pulled chicken, and andouille sausage, New Orleans Jambalaya with shrimp, chicken and andouille sausage, mac and cheese, and cornbread. The sounds of the St. PJs “Second Line” band, and dancing to the beat. The sights of colorful beads, magical masks, and costumes! All of our senses firing on all cylinders! It is a Fat Tuesday Celebration. Tuesday, March 1st at 6:30pm. A live stream, Zoom celebration with our very own Jazz Band!
On Wednesday, March 2nd at 7:30pm, we begin our season of Lent with our Ash Wednesday service, including the imposition of ashes. It is the beginning of our journey with Jesus. A time before Easter to pray and meditate, abstain and fast from excessiveness, read scripture, the Daily Office, deepen faith by attending Sunday worship, and join our “Episcopal Q & A.” This is a new series we are starting during Lent after the Sunday service, where folks gather who want to discuss questions such as these and more: What is the Episcopal church? Who are Episcopalians? Why do we do what we do? Who are we here at St. PJs? Please join us for the first session on Sunday March 6th in the Sanctuary after the 10:30 am service.
According to the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, “a Parish…in the new missional age is a community where our hearts and minds are moved by God’s presence…where our stories connect with God’s story in Holy Scripture, and where we experience God’s grace in baptism and Eucharist; where people are sent by the Holy Spirit into the world to join God’s work of restoration and reconciliation.” Does that describe St PJ’s to you? Would you add something else, take something out?
Our congregation is being asked to define who we are and how we see ourselves participating in God’s mission, as we continue the transition process of hiring a new Priest-in-Charge. The Vestry has started on this journey in our conversations with the Bishop, the Diocesan Transition Minister, and the Canon for Mission Finance and Operations. The next step will be to gather as a Parish to share and explore who we are as a community in this “new missional age.” This date of this gathering will be announced soon. Stay tuned! Ultimately, this self-reflection will be shared on our updated website and beyond so that potential priest candidates can understand this wonderful and spirit filled home we call “St. PJ’s”!
Blessings and peace,
Brian Fillmore and Claire Cody, co-wardens
Fill me up
I was moved by Mother Teresa’s wise saying that Lynne Severance quoted last week in her sermon.
One day there springs up the desire for money and for all that money can provide — the superfluous, luxury in eating, luxury in dressing, trifles. Needs increase because one thing calls for another. The result is uncontrollable dissatisfaction. Let us remain as empty as possible so that God can fill us up.
As we approach the beginning of Lent, consider the last phrase, and ask yourself, “How, and with what, will God fill me up?”
St Paul, in his letter to the Galatians (5:22-23), lists the “fruits of the Spirit”: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. We all need at least one of these gifts to replace our empty “desires of the flesh” (v 19-21): immorality, idolatry, hatred, conflict, jealousy, anger, selfishness. Pray to turn away from desires that do not ultimately satisfy. Ask God to bless you with new life during this penitential season. And don’t be timid…pray your heart’s desire! We are born of God’s imagination; each one of us is a one-off invention. Our Creator longs to fill us up with spiritual health. Jesus is our role model, so read a section from the Gospel every day. Learn from him how to receive the freedom and courage from God to be your true and full self.
St PJs community longs to be in beloved relationship with Almighty God, and it’s up to each one of us. Meditate on the prayer attributed to St Francis:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
God’s blessing on all of us,
Tudy, Minister of Pastoral Care
An Appeal To God
Guide me into an unclenched moment
I chose this prayer for our St. PJs staff meeting last week. Sensing anxiety around our status as a church without a priest-in-charge, I related personally to some of the images in Ted Loder’s appeal to God. I long to “let go of heavy expectancies”. Today is our reality, and tomorrow will show up eventually, no matter how hard we think we can control what happens. Remember that we are “surrounded by the light” of our divine Creator, and, please God, may we always be “open to God’s mystery”. As a child waits for her birthday, “fill us with that same joy that is you/God.”
into an unclenched moment,
a deep breath,
a letting go of heavy expectancies,
of shriveling anxieties,
of dead certainties,
that, softened by the silence,
surrounded by the light,
and open to the mystery,
I may be found by wholeness,
upheld by the unfathomable,
entranced by the simple,
and filled with the joy
that is you.
The poem is from the late Ted Loder’s most popular book, Guerrillas of Grace: Prayers for the Battle. The title is symbolic of Ted Loder’s ministerial life. He graduated from Yale Divinity School and became a Methodist minister who served for almost 38 years at one of Philadelphia’s most unusual churches, known as “The Oddball Church”. Ted’s passion for social justice included marching with Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama; guiding his church as a Public Sanctuary for Guatemalan refugees denied asylum; supporting the ‘Covenant Against Apartheid’; and, more recently, becoming a ‘reconciling congregation’ who worked for full inclusion of homosexual persons in the Methodist community.
The Spirit of our God is at work in our midst, too… “Guide us, Holy One” to keep the faith and continue to rejoice in our God-given gifts today. We give thanks for the ministry of our seasonal supply priest, The Rev. Nathan Empsall. Nathan’s ability to be spontaneous in his ‘welcomes’ and ‘blessings’ is inspiring. Come and share worship tomorrow!
Epiphany faith for us all,
Tudy, Minister of Pastoral Care
Dear PJs Community,
As we logged in to Zoom last Sunday at 1 pm, it was wonderful to see people's faces smiling in their little boxes. For those of you who were unable to attend, or maybe you were there and would love a reminder of what we discussed, or maybe you're a bit farther astray and curious about what's happening these days at PJs, here is a summary of the meeting!
The meeting opened with a prayer, then a photo slideshow compiled by Claire Cody and set to the music of Will Cleary and Drew Fermo. Special thanks to Tudy Hill, David Hill, and Max Clayton for providing many of the photos! You can rewatch it here:
After reviewing and approving the minutes from 2021, the meeting opened with a report from Robert Sheiman of the Whitneyville Cultural Commons to inform us on how the first year of our partnership has gone, what different groups have been using our building, and some exciting plans for the future. If you ever need to get in contact with Robert for reasons relating to the church building or inquiries about having an event at the church, please email him at email@example.com.
Robert's presentation was followed by reports from our wardens on our worship and community, updates on the priest-in-charge transition, and upcoming improvements to our building (the first step being new accessible, all-gender bathrooms in the hallway opposite the church office!). This report was followed by updates from Tudy Hill, our newly-titled Minister of Pastoral Care, Will Cleary, our music director, and David Hill, our treasurer. Tudy updated us on the work of the pastoral care team, and her roles in leading various aspects of our common worship. Will gave us an overview of tech updates and music challenges that continue through this pandemic, acknowledged the departure of our assistant music director, and mentioned some hopes for the next year of music at PJs. David presented an overview of this past year’s spending, and outlined the budget for this coming year. We closed the meeting by unanimously approving the slate of officers and new Vestry members, ending with a prayer.
The bottom line is that amidst many challenges and changes of the past year, the PJs community is strong and hopeful for the future!
Contact the church office if you're interested in receiving any materials from the meeting.
PJs Wardens and Vestry