May 7, 2022
Dear PJ's Community,
Change is everywhere and often when I hear that word, bells go off in my head. What is wrong? What can I do? What should I do? But change doesn’t have to set off these bells or whatever it does for you. Change can be good as well, I‘ve been noticing all the buds popping everywhere, trees stretching their limbs and unfurling new leaves.
And even some surprise visitors among the blooms!
So, with change there can be life-giving newness. We don’t always have to fear change. And so too for us at St PJ’s. Jesus is risen and life is reborn within us. And it’s not the addition of chairs alone at St PJ’s that reflect a change and newness. It’s within each of us. Under the leadership of Brian and Claire and supported by sharing in Eucharist with Nathan we are becoming something new as a community of faith at St PJ’s.
At Noon Day Prayer this past Wednesday, we read from Luke 7:11-17 about the death of a widow’s son and how Jesus brought him to life again. And following this, "they all realized they were in a place of holy mystery”. And I believe we too at St PJ’s are in a place of holy mystery. A time of change, yes and transition, yes; but we must trust that our God is with us and within each of us as we move forward to a new future as the people of God on this corner of Chapel and Olive.
Let us not fear change, but rather welcome it, with renewed faith in ourselves, one another and our God.
I close with a prayer, author unknown, which fell out of my Book Of Common Prayer. (Just by chance?)
“May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received,
and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the
freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. (And I would add laugh.)
It is there for each and every one of us.”
Blessings to all!
Marilyn J. Bergen,
April 30, 2022
Dear PJ's Community,
This week, I marched with fellow Yale graduate students and supporters up Hillhouse Avenue as we expressed our support for the formation of a graduate student union. We were joined by our partners UNITE HERE Local 217, Local 34, Local 35, Yale Unions Retirees Association, Students Union Now, and New Haven Rising, as well as workers from the Graduate Hotel in downtown New Haven who are also in the process of forming a union.
As a graduate student, I feel like I straddle a strange line between being a student and being a worker. While my grad student colleagues and I are getting an education, we are also doing invaluable work for the university, including performing cutting edge research, writing and applying for grants, and teaching classes. Graduate workers across the country are mobilizing to form unions, saying that the work we do matters and is essential to our universities and should be treated as such.
I share this with you all this week, because while in the United States we celebrate Labor Day in September, International Labor Day is this Sunday, May 1st. Across the globe, workers are getting days of rest, organizing marches, and standing up for the rights of all who work.
As I was walking up tree-lined Hillhouse Avenue with my fellow graduate students, I wondered what Jesus would think of all of this, and how it fits with my identity and beliefs as a Christian. While pondering this, one of the lines from my baptismal covenant popped into my mind: “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”
Remembering this, I felt proud to be a part of a larger labor movement across the United States, where workers are standing up against wealthy and powerful corporations and institutions to demand a living wage, basic rights, and dignity.
This week, I invite you to think of ways in your lives to live into your baptismal covenants – seeking and serving Christ in all persons, loving your neighbors, striving for justice and peace, and respecting the dignity of every human being.
Peace and blessings,
April 9, 2022
Dear PJ's community,
Yesterday I ate my lunch outside and basked in the sunshine. The buds on the cherry trees in Wooster Square are about to burst open in glory (just in time for our Palm Sunday parade, fingers crossed!). The signs of spring, hope, and the resurrection are just at hand!
However, as Christians, before embracing the joy of Easter, we must first confront the fear, hopelessness, betrayal, and death that comes during Holy Week.
This is one of my favorite weeks of the year in the Church. We get an entire emotional roller coaster in one week – the exuberance of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem with songs of “Hosannah,” the gravity and love of the Last Supper, the frustration of the betrayal from one of Jesus’ friends, the grief of succumbing to the unjust authority of the Roman Empire, the agony of the cross, and finally, the disbelief and joy of the resurrection.
PJ’s friends, I invite you to join us as we celebrate and remember this entire journey. The full schedule of our Holy Week services can be found at the bottom of this email, and I would encourage you to come to as many of them as you can.
We are excited this year to bring back some of our pre-COVID traditions, including a jazz parade around Wooster Square on Palm Sunday, and a community meal of soup, along with foot washing and stripping the altar on Maundy Thursday. We will also be remembering Jesus’s request for his friends to stay awake in the garden with him on his last night, as we do a prayer vigil overnight from Thursday to Friday in the chapel. Please email Jeff and Janie (email@example.com) to sign up. Good Friday will feature a homecoming from our prodigal musician, Drew Fermo, as he will join Sarah Hill and Nate Solberg to sing the Passion story.
In this most Holy Week of the year, let us also hold in prayer our siblings who are celebrating this holy time in different ways – our Muslim siblings currently observing Ramadan, and our Jewish siblings who start Passover this coming week. Let us remember that we are all of the same family, with the same wonderful God.
Come along with us and buckle in for this wild and wondrous ride of Holy Week!
A reflection from Sally Fleming, long-time parishioner, and Loaves and Fishes and Sunrise Cafe volunteer
Dear People of St Paul St James,
Prior to our weekly discussions about faith, I had often thought about my faith and what it is and how I demonstrate it. I am not a proselytizer, and don’t easily use faith talk. However I have long known that what I believe is summarized by Jesus’’ words in the Gospel of Matthew:
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me…..Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”.
At a point of transition in my life, I needed to find a church that devoted its resources to the community –that looked beyond its walls. The first time I visited then St. Paul’s, the priest’s sermon railed against the war in Viet Nam. I soon learned that this was a church that stretched beyond the walls into the community and the world. So it is here that I have worshipped and worked since the last 40 years.
For those of you who are newer --and we are so glad you are here!, Loaves and Fishes began in the early 80s when Hanne Howard, our beloved elder, took $10.00 of her own money and bought canned food to give to those hungry people who knocked on our door. Her small beginning became a bona fide mission of the church and more recently its own 501C3, and now fills up to 1000 bags of food a week for those who come to our doors and for those in our community.
It has been a perfect place for me to demonstrate my faith. I am a Martha, the one in the kitchen preparing a meal for Jesus, not Mary, who sat at his feet listening. For all these years, I have helped prepare for Saturdays, leading and helping the busy Saturday welcoming of those who need clothes and food. Since Covid, I have mostly been in the Clothes Closet, finding trousers and coats for those who come to our door. It often takes patience and forces me to remember that those who come are children of God, no matter how they are dressed or how noisy their need is exhibited.
PJs has also opened me up to the spiritual side –surrounded by those who read and pray and who can articulate their faith in words that don’t easily come to me. This is my church and my community and it is here that I will continue to follow Jesus’ commandments.
PJs Wardens and Vestry