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

Br. Chris’ New Call

Dear beloved people of Trinity Church,

As we continue to prayerfully discern who we are and what we do in the Episcopal Church, the Marks of Mission for the Anglican Communion can be one way to shape and guide that process.The five Marks of Mission give us some details to understand how the mission of the Church is the mission of Christ:

  1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  2. To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
  3. To respond to human need by loving service
  4. To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
  5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth

Numbers one through three are part of the role of every priest, and I have learned so much about how to live into that role at Trinity Church.  Recently, however, numbers four and five have really been tugging on my heart strings, and I felt the need to commit to these two missions in a particular way in full-time ministry.  As a result, I’ve accepted a call to serve as the Priest-in-Charge at St. Francis Episcopal Church in North Bellmore, Long Island.

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St. Francis is a small church with a sizable community garden that feeds local folks who struggle to make ends meet, where individuals can come to the garden for fresh veggies.  The church also delivers vegetables to local soup kitchens and food pantries, and members of Long Island’s growing Spanish-speaking community frequent the garden.

North Bellmore is also home to many members of the FDNY and NYPD.  The Bishop of Long Island has asked me to care specifically for their needs and those of their families.  The town was also hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, and they know first-hand the devastation of climate change.  As we continue to see growing numbers of migrants directly related to climate change, St. Francis Church’s commitment to environmental sustainability and getting closer to the earth is of primary spiritual importance for me right now.

I’m so grateful for the ways Trinity Church has equipped me for this call.  I’m a better priest because of my time here.  I look forward to spending the next few weeks here with you all as we continue to listen to where God is leading and guiding us to respond to the mission of Christ.  

Peace,                               

 
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Br. Chris McNabb, OSF
Curate

 
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World Refugee Day

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.
— Hebrews 13:1-3

Dear Trinity Church Community,

I’m grateful for the opportunity you gave me to participate in my recent Spanish immersion program in Antigua, Guatemala. It was a challenging experience , but I was able to increase my knowledge of Spanish. I met the Bishop of Guatemala and attended services at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Antigua.  The people of Guatemala are lovely, kind, and beyond hospitable.  I met so many wonderful people, some of whom are simply struggling to survive.  

In addition to meeting wonderful people, I was reminded how challenging it is to learn a new language.  Despite six hours of Spanish classes, five days a week, for three weeks — I’m still struggling to learn the language.  I also contracted a stomach parasite while in Guatemala. After several visits to the doctor, I wasn’t getting better.  Once I became ill in one of my classes, the doctor was called and it was determined I needed to fly home early.  It was an incredibly scary moment to be that sick and unsure how to become well.  Soon after landing here in the country, I was able to seek medical attention and quickly began improving.  

While in Guatemala, I became viscerally aware of how desperate one can feel when ill in a foreign county.  I can only imagine the desperation that drives many people to seek asylum or refuge at our borders.  As our country continues to debate immigration policy, I pray we begin to honor this desperation and create immigration laws and systems that are fair, equitable, and just.  As we celebrate World Refugee Day, I thought it wise to include a recent video from Episcopal Migration Ministries and join in our Presiding Bishop’s request to stand with migrants.

Peace,

 
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Br. Chris McNabb, OSF
Curate

 
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Do you believe all this stuff?

Dear Friends,

Perhaps there has been a time when someone asked you, “Do you really believe all that stuff?” (God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, etc.)  People who don’t “believe” often wonder why it is that we do believe, and also what is it, exactly, that we believe.  Recently, I have been re-reading Tokens of Trust by Rowan Williams. In the first chapter, Williams addresses “belief.”  He does so by reframing the question and concept of belief, and asking, rather, in what or whom do you put your “trust.”  To believe in God is to put our trust in God.  To believe goes well beyond believing “this” or “that” about the historical Jesus, but instead calls us to the depth of our hearts and souls and where we place our trust.  To believe in all that stuff — is really “saying that we can trust the maker of heaven and earth precisely because he is the maker of heaven and earth.” (p.11)

Believing things about Jesus is not the same as putting one’s trust in Jesus.  For the reality is that people “believe” all kinds of different things about Jesus that can be debated and disputed until the end of time, but the real question is not what do I believe, but in whom do I put my trust.  With whom can I trust my soul, my sin, my dreams, my disappointments, my fears, my utterly true and vulnerable self — I believe that one is Jesus! 

In Christ,

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Paul

Liberation

I recently finished reading Educated: Memoir, by Tara Westover. A disturbing and yet inspiring true story of a young woman who grew up in a survivalist family in rural Idaho. She miraculously finds liberation with admission to BYU, then to Harvard, and ultimately to Cambridge for a Ph.D. During her first lecture at Cambridge, the professor spoke of Isaiah Berlin.

"So what are Isaiah Berlin's two concepts?” the lecturer asked.  Nearly everyone raised a hand.

"Negative liberty,” [a student answered], “is the freedom from external obstacles or constraints. An individual is free in the sense if they’re not physically prevented from taking action.”

“Very good,” the lecturer said. “And the second?”

“Positive liberty,” another student said, “is freedom from internal constraints."  

I took a picture of this page and sent it to Sophia, JP, and Luke. "Please read! What is preventing you from being who and what you truly want to be, truly can be?"  

I offer this to you with the question, “What is preventing you, me, us/we - as the people of Trinity Church, from truly and completely living into God’s call for us - both as individuals and as a community of believers?”

What external and internal constraints are limiting our liberty and freedom to truly follow Jesus? The Gospel of Jesus Christ is one of liberation, true freedom.  The Gospel calls us to break down the constraints both external and internal that imprison humanity and prevent us from living more fully into God’s call, God’s dream for us, for all!

Peace, 

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The Rev. Paul Jeanes III
Rector

Ascension Day

Women at the Grave of Christ and Ascension of Christ, Reidersche Tafel; Ivory; Milan or Rome, c. 400 AD

Women at the Grave of Christ and Ascension of Christ, Reidersche Tafel; Ivory; Milan or Rome, c. 400 AD

Jesus said to his disciples, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you– that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

Luke 24:44-53

 Almighty God, whose only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven: May our hearts and minds also there ascend, and with him continually dwell; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A few years ago, while on sabbatical, I had the blessing of visiting many sacred sites in and around Jerusalem.  One of these was in Bethany at the site of the Ascension, where our Lord was “carried up to heaven.”  When you are there, you can’t help it.  You have to look up.  You just have too.  For perhaps by some gift of the Holy Spirit you might miraculously see a so very faint remnant of the Lord’s ascent.  Like the lines across the sky still visible long after a plane is out of view. 

 Did I see something, feel something, perceive something that gives “evidence” of His journey.  No. I simply saw the miracle of a beautiful blue sky.  But, I was reminded to keep my eyes open for sightings of Heaven, to keep my ears open for the sounds of Heaven, to keep my heart open to the dream of Heaven, and through word and deed to keep aspiring for reality and promise of Heaven - that indeed God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 

Though on this day we celebrate our Lord’s ascent and return to the Father, let us remember that there is much of Heaven’s work to be done right here, right now on this most soild ground.

In Christ,

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The Rev. Paul Jeanes III
Rector