Back to School

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Well, it’s that time of year again. Time to go back to school.  The time for reading, writing, and arithmetic. Teachers and students ready themselves for another year of learning, challenge, exploration, and growth. 

I must admit that when I look at the course offerings from which my children have to select, I’m a little jealous – there are so many amazing subjects to choose from. It is a truly unique season of life when one’s primary “job” is simply to learn, to explore, to grow. The older I get, the more I realize just how much I don’t know and the limits of what I think I do know.

In the days ahead, students put on their backpacks and head back to school. I want to remind all of us that we are still and always will be students of life and students of the faith. There is more to learn for ALL of us. No matter how much we know or how much we “think” we know.

As we enter our new program year, I am challenging myself to take more seriously my priestly call to be an intentional “student” of the faith. That is a disciple. A disciple is a student or follower of a mentor or teacher. We are disciples of Jesus Christ. We are called to continually be about the practice of learning and growing in our faith.  As a priest, I can often get lost and distracted by the duties of church work. I can all too easily neglect to sit at the feet of the Lord in prayer and study because there is always “work to be done.”

As we enter this new year, I challenge you to be a true disciple of the Lord, a student of the faith. What does the Lord want to teach you? What do you need to learn?  Where to do you need to be challenged? What aspect of faith do you need to explore more deeply?

So, it’s that time of year again. Time to go back to school. The time for reading, writing, arithmetic, and ... JESUS!  It’s time to learn. 

I’m excited. I hope you are too!!

Peace,

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The Rev. Paul Jeanes III
Rector

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Ordinary Thoughts in Ordinary Time

Summer marks the long stretch of the Sundays after Pentecost that are sometimes called “Ordinary Time.” This doesn’t mean ordinary as in run of the mill. In this case ordinary, is used in the sense of counting or numbering, as we do with the weeks after Pentecost until Advent. In this season, we have already heard again the story of the Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus told through the Church year. Now we turn to the business of living as a people for whom that story has made all the difference in the world. It is, I believe, a matter of living an extraordinary life in ordinary ways, of doing “small things with great love,” as one quotation attributed to Mother Teresa says. 

In addition, it is a time for focusing of the gift of the Eucharist, the weekly practice that brings the presence of Christ as close as possible to us, and then sends us out into the world to share that presence with others.  I wanted to share with you a beautiful poem by the English priest and poet Malcolm Guite entitled This Table. It reminds me so much of the table I have the honor to stand behind at Trinity Church, and of the community that gathers around it each week:

The centuries have settled on this table
Deepened the grain beneath a clean white cloth
Which bears afresh our changing elements.
Year after year of prayer, in hope and trouble,
Were poured out here and blessed and broken, both
In aching absence and in absent presence. 

This table too the earth herself has given
And human hands have made. Where candle-flame
At corners burns and turns the air to light
The oak once held its branches up to heaven,
Blessing the elements which it became,
Rooting the dew and rain, branching the light.

Because another tree can bear, unbearable,
For us, the weight of Love, so can this table.

However, beyond participating in the weekly practice of the Eucharist, there are other ways to do “small things with great love.” In particular, I would like to encourage each of you to discern how God may be calling you to serve in specific ministries at Trinity Church in the coming year.  I guarantee that they will be rewarding to you spiritually, as well as an essential help to the parish. At the start of the fall, on September 8, we will have our traditional ministry fair, where you can learn more about our lay ministries from acolytes to altar guild to outreach. If you are not currently involved in any of these ministries, please pray about making it a part of your life at Trinity Church. In the end, it isn’t about what the church needs you to give, it’s about what you can receive as a gift through loving and serving both God and our neighbors. 

Yours faithfully in Christ,

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The Rev. Dr. Kara N. Slade
Associate Rector for Operations & Discipleship

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Blessing of the Backpacks

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For some of us, the advent of a new school year is exciting. We hear West Side Story lyrics (“The air is hummin’ and somethin’ great is comin’… “) in our heads and tap dance to the bus stop. School shopping is the absolute best – bouquets of pencils delight us. We just can’t wait to organize our new assignment planners. For others, a new school year brings nothing but trepidation and an onslaught of anxious questions. Will I like my new teacher? What if my best friend isn’t in my class? What if I get a bad grade?... don’t make the varsity team?... 

No matter where your kids fall in this spectrum, they will most likely carry a backpack to and from school. These backpacks may be mostly empty or crammed full of books and papers. No matter how full they are of stuff, they will contain hopes, dreams, fears, and questions for each new season and each new day of this academic year. 

We would like to invite you to bring those backpacks to Trinity on September 8. Bring them empty or full. Invite a friend! Adults, if you’d like in on this, bring your briefcases, tote bags, or backpacks as well. The priests will bless the bags during the announcements in the middle of the service, to honor all the hopes, dreams, and fears that accompany the new school year, and to ask for God to strengthen, sustain, and encourage all our children as they learn and grow throughout the year. 

We have a small tag for you to attach to your bags as a reminder of God’s love for you and for everyone you meet as you go to and from school each day. There are color versions of these tags, pre-laminated, so you can attach them and go. Or if you’d like to decorate your own tag, please see Emily, who has black and white versions of the tag for you to color yourself. 

In addition, we are all ever-mindful of those in our midst who do not have enough money to buy school supplies, and who will not even have a backpack on the first day of school. We will be collecting school supplies to donate to Urban Promise. Suitable supplies include: a new backpack or lunchbox, packs of loose-leaf paper, No. 2 pencils, erasers, Ball Point pens, Highlighters, Composition Books, 1” or 2” Binders, and Folders. Please consider contributing something for a child in need. Collection boxes will be in the Narthex and at the Front Desk until September 15. 

 

Emily Pruszinski
Director of Family Ministries

Adult Forum Preview: What Are We Doing Here?

Icon depicting the Emperor Constantine and the bishops of the First Council of Nicaea (325) holding the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed of 381

Icon depicting the Emperor Constantine and the bishops of the First Council of Nicaea (325) holding the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed of 381

Dear friends,

Grace and peace to you! The time is coming when we look to the start of the program year and especially to new offerings for our adult formation hour at 9am. I have several exciting things to share with you in the hopes that you will take advantage of them. First, instead of having one-off classes on different topics, we are going to schedule the forum in blocks. Several of those blocks will examine in detail what we do in our liturgy and why we do it. So many times we participate in the liturgy — receiving the Eucharist or reciting the Creed — without thinking about it. And that is part of the gifts of liturgical worship: it is here for us regardless of what we think or feel on a particular day. Sometimes it brings us intensely into God’s presence, and sometimes it washes over us while our minds are on other things. And that’s OK. 

This year, I hope we can dig deeper into understanding what we do in the liturgy. In the fall, I am going to teach a four or five week series on the Eucharist, and in the spring I will do the same thing with the Nicene Creed. We will also have a series on prisons, theological responses to incarceration, and the broader implications for a holistic pursuit of social justice. In addition, several other series are still in the planning stages, so stay tuned for more information and a full schedule. 

Second, on the second Sunday of each month, we will have an ‘on-ramp’ introductory class in the Thomas Room for newcomers as well as long-time members interested in learning more about basic Anglican topics and happenings at Trinity Church. This class will have four parts, repeating in a cycle throughout the year, so that regardless of when people join our church, they will be integrated into our parish seamlessly. 

Finally, look for some regular features in the ePISTLE from our Director of Family Ministries as well as myself. Emily will keep you updated on family ministry topics and on how to share the faith with your children, and I will have a regular “theological word of the week” column. 

One way to grow closer to God in Christ is through learning, and I hope you will join me in this adventure of discipleship next fall. 

Yours faithfully in Christ,

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The Rev. Canon Dr. Kara N. Slade
Associate Rector for Operations and Discipleship

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Welcome, the Rev. Dr. Sonia E. Waters!

Dear Friends,

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It is my privilege to introduce to you the newest member of our Trinity clergy team, the Rev. Dr. Sonia E. Waters.  Sonia has been a regular part of our worshipping community for the past several years and has become a much-loved member of our Trinity family. Sonia will be joining us in a part-time capacity as our Trinity Fellow for Spiritual Care.  

Sonia is Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary.  She is a graduate of Wheaton College where she received a BA in literature and a minor in gender studies. She completed her MDiv at General Theological Seminary in New York and her PhD in pastoral theology from Princeton Theological Seminary.  Sonia has been ordained in the Episcopal Church for ten years serving in parish ministry, advocacy work, and as a professor.   She is a gifted preacher and teacher with a caring, compassionate, healing, and inclusive spirit.  

Over the weeks and months ahead, we will be living into the details and specifics of her role at Trinity and in our growing relationship with St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Trenton.

Please join me in welcoming Sonia to our Trinity team.

Peace and Blessings to all!

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The Rev. Paul Jeanes III
Rector

A Tribute to Br. Chris

Imagine with me a paratrooper.

A paratrooper descends from the air in a parachute, and hits the ground running  - accelerating – to achieve a mission.

In the fall of 2013, paratrooper Chris McNabb landed in Princeton, New Jersey, and landed at Trinity Church.  He came by way of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Camden, New Jersey.

Some glimpses on this paratrooper….

  1. Most new students in the Master of Divinity program at Princeton Theological Seminary start to do field work at churches in their second year.  Chris would have none of that.  He started to do field work with the Trinity Church family upon arrival. On a Sunday afternoon in September that year, I took Chris with me on a pastoral visit to a homebound elderly parishioner.  Chris was immediately caring for this person, and the two of them hit off splendidly. I just wanted to get out of the way and let Chris do this ministry.  Let’s go!

  2.  It was between Christmas and New Years in 2017 that I stopped by Trinity Church on a Wednesday evening.   I was on my over to the Nassau Inn to help with disaster assistance as The American Red Cross was opening a reception center for those persons displaced by the Griggs Farm Apartment Building Fire.  Paratrooper McNabb landed again and sprang into action to join in giving comfort and encouragement to these persons in need, and also to the staff members of the Princeton Housing Authority. His efforts did not stop there as he mobilized the Rummage Team, our church family and the greater Princeton community to get needed provisions to those displaced by the fire.  Let’s go!

  3. My really good friend Jamie Watson became ill in 2018, and it was discovered to be brain cancer. At the family’s request, I was asked if a Trinity Church priest could come to The Medical Center at Princeton, and later to Merwick, to provide support and encouragement to Jamie.  Chris did a fine job of being that reassurance to Jamie and to the family, and to me, during that time.  Chris showed great compassion for Jackie, Jamie’s wife, and the family. The memorial service for Jamie in March 2019 that Chris led was fitting and was sensitive, loving and caring.   Let’s go!

  4. During late 2018 and into 2019, this dancing idiot had this crazy idea that men might want to do early morning boot camp exercise workouts with him.  In late March 2019, I held a pre-launch workout on a cold Wednesday morning focusing not just on the workout but allowing men to talk about their thoughts and feelings on male depression, suicide and suicide prevention. Chris landed again and was there being the very supportive friend and priest a guy could ever have.  He has continued to be a support and encouragement to me with the start-up of F3, Fitness-Fellowship-Faith, here in Princeton. He truly believed and has affirmed to me many times that he sensed the Holy Spirit moving me, and prompting me into creating this local outreach to men in our community to make better men; stronger in body, stronger in their friendship and fellowship connections to other men, and stronger in their personal expression of faith in responding to needs in their families, this community and the world.  Let’s go!

I have now stated “let’s go!” over four times, and that is the expression I think of when considering Chris. His love for persons is boundless. His sensitive and caring nature for those in need is without match,  As he leads in worship, his demeanor, tone, words, and manner point to our glorious God and his Son Jesus Christ, and the great depth of love that God has for us.

The paratrooper is moving on to another mission, soon to land in Nassau County, New York, in North Bellmore at St. Francis Episcopal Church.

Yet….

The needs in our church family are great. 

The needs in our community and nation are great.

The world is hurting. 

The time is short.

How do we respond?

Let’s go!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
— Hebrews 12:1-3
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Curtis Hoberman
Secretary of the Vestry

The Human Condition

Dear sisters and brothers,

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While at the shore, I re-read one of my favorites, The Human Conditionby Fr. Thomas Keating. He begins with the question, “Where are you? This is one of the great questions of all time. It is the focus of the first half of the spiritual journey.”  He goes on to say, “Where am I in relation to God, to myself, and to others? These are the basic questions of human life. As soon as we answer honestly, we have begun the spiritual search for God, which is also the search for ourselves.  God is asking us to face the reality of the human condition.”

The second question he presents is, “Who are you? This is the great question of the second half of the spiritual journey.” I believe that we often lose ourselves and exchange the truth of who we are for a “role” that we play.  In contemplation of this second question, we are to empty ourselves of our false manufactured “roles” and allow ourselves to be “full of God.” It is only in God, fully and completely, when we will truly embody our true selves and know who we truly are – those who are unconditionally loved.

I invite you in the days and weeks ahead, as perhaps, you head out for summer adventures to use this time to find out “where you are” and “who you are.” Find those spiritual landmarks that help give you direction.  Find those relationships that orient, sustain, and nourish you. Take time for prayer and contemplation.  Take off the “role” you play, empty yourself of unrealistic expectations, anxieties, and your need for control.  Give yourself time to know and experience that where you are and who you are is held intimately and eternally in the unconditional love of God.

Blessings on the way,

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The Rev. Paul Jeanes III
Rector

 

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True and Lasting Freedom

Dear Good People of Trinity,

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Grace and peace to you on this day of commemoration and celebration. Today is a day when we acknowledge our freedom and give thanks for those who fought the fight and gave their lives for the freedoms we now enjoy.  This day, however, is not just a day for fireworks and fun, but for reflection and contemplation.  For with freedom comes responsibility.  We must ask ourselves, “How am I using my freedom?”  For selfish reasons or the common good? For greed or service? For the betterment of “my” people or all people? 

So, on this day, I invite you to take just a moment for prayer and reflection.  Give thanks to God for the freedoms we have as citizens of this country and for the true freedom we have in Christ, and then ask God and yourself how you can be a person of freedom so that ALL might know true and lasting freedom. 

In Christ,

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The Rev. Paul Jeanes III
Rector

 

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Collect & Gospel for Independence Day

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
— Collect for Independence Day
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
— Gospel for Independence Day, Matthew 5:43-48