Jesus Entering Us

Dear Friends,

As we now come to the sacred days of Holy Week, I offer you a Palm Sunday reflection by Fr. Thomas Keating, OCSO

The great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches from palm trees and went out to meet him shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” Jesus is the model for all human persons, the universal human being, as it were. Jesus shows us the enormous potentialities hidden within us. By letting God enter our lives and very selves we make it possible for them to be realized. Jesus is coming to us and not just to an ancient city.

According to Paul’s great hymn to God’s humility, the divine Person of the Word, source of everything that exists, didn’t cling to the divine dignity or condition or prerogatives, but threw them all away. It is as though God had a need not to act like God.

In creating, God, in a sense, dies. God is not alone but completely involved in the evolution of creatures. God makes them so lovable! So Christ emptied himself of the divine power that could have protected him and instead opened himself in complete vulnerability. Think of his stretching out his arms on the cross to embrace all human suffering.

In the most real sense, we too are the body of God. We are a “new humanity” in which the Word becomes flesh. We too can be in the service of the Divine Word. God experiences human life through our senses, our emotions, our thoughts. Each of us gives the eternal Word a new way in which to disclose infinite potentiality.

God knows a human self from inside and experienced the human condition in all its ramifications. We are incorporated into this new creation that Christ brings to the world and so to experience the Father’s infinite concern. God transcends suffering and joy but manifests himself in both and Jesus wants us to experience God as He does. We leave behind every false self and become a new self.

Christ on the donkey is riding to his death. This reveals the heart of God once and for all and in such a way that no one can every doubt God’s infinite mercy unless by doubting that God has become human in Christ. At the Eucharist we hear the words: “This is my Body”. The power of that utterance extends to each of us. Christ enters into us and awakens and celebrates his great sacrifice, saying to each of us:“You are my body. You are my blood.” It is a question of our cooperating in these words coming true, more and more, day by day. Do we want Christ to enter into us? Do we want whatever that will mean—for us and for the entire human world?

Peace and Blessings on the way,

 
Paul.png
 

The Rev. Paul Jeanes III
Rector

I Want To Be Like This Boat

I want to be like this boat….

E1Uc.gif

It is cutting through the waves to get to more peaceful waters.  It is necessary for the boat to go directly through the waves and not be motionless and try to ride the waves.  Such inaction could cause the boat to capsize and danger to those onboard.

I had the opportunity to lead the Godly Play session on Sunday with the older children and the theme was the three temptations to Jesus while in the desert.  With each temptation, Jesus responds back to the Voice — sharply, distinctly, directly, and in confrontation.  He does not let the temptation misdirect him or divert him from his intended mission to show God’s Love in word and in action to a hurting world that needs a savior.  Like the boat, Jesus goes directly through the situation.

On Wednesday, March 27, six men gathered in the Princeton Seminary Library parking lot to greet the dawn with an F3 boot camp workout and to talk about the subjects of male depression, suicide, and suicide prevention.  I was touched by the level of vulnerability and honesty as men shared their knowledge and familiarity with these very difficult subjects.  It is easy to let the Voice inside me tell me that I will never amount to much or that I’ll never be as good as another person.  It is easy for me to believe such thoughts.   Like the boat, and like Jesus, I need to confront the peril, talk back to it, and move through it to a better place and to peace of mind.

What are the tools that can help me?

God’s Word

I call Psalm 42 my depression psalm.  The psalmist is in difficult place, yet realizes that God is his hope. Psalm 42:7b, 9- 1:

All your waves and breakers have swept over me… I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Also, I like this promise in Romans 8:38-39:  

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Prayer

Consistent, honest, and with space to listen to God’s promptings and insights.

My Brothers & Sisters

It is my prayer that we grow in deeper fellowship with one another, and grow in trusting relationships where we can share our struggles, our doubts and concerns, and that we support one another.  I know as a guy it is not easy for me to open up and share what is really going on within.

I am looking forward to the launch of the F3 free men's bootcamp workouts in our area, and I am looking forward to getting to know, as brothers, the men that would get involved in this.  There is more on this elsewhere in the ePISTLE. The launch of F3 Princeton will be on April 13. 

I remain like this boat, moving forward and through the waves, and as I tell my Level 1 and Level 2 swimming students, I am wearing my life jacket.

Your brother in Christ,

Curtis Hoberman

Love Never Fails

Dear Friends,

bible-heart.jpg

It has been a great joy to me to come to know the young  parents, children, and young adults of our parish family. Young adults and young families are a are a particularly vibrant and growing community here at Trinity. Once a month we gather after church for a Potluck meal and program. From time to time the conversation will focus on Scripture. All of us live with the constant question of how these ancient texts move and motivate in us in our modern lives. When it comes to applying ancient words to the complexities of modern parenting, well, sometimes the Scripture needs a little nudge, an explanation, an interpretation that is true to the original intent, yet is readily applicable to busy young lives. Below was one of our recent meditations. It is a paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13 — the Hymn to Love familiar to so many of us. Perhaps you will find in it wisdom and guidance for your own busy days. And perhaps through it you can pray for and uphold the many children, parents, and young adults who come through Trinity’s doors seeking support and strength in this large and loving Trinity family.

Yours in Christ,

Joanne.png
 

The Rev’d Joanne Epply-Schmidt
Associate Rector

 

Though I speak with the language of educators and psychiatrists and have not love, I am as blaring brass or a crashing symbol.

And if I have the gift of planning my child’s future and understanding all the mysteries of the child’s mind and have ample knowledge of teenagers, and though I have all faith in my children, so that I could remove their mountains of doubts and fears and have not love, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed and nourish them properly, and though I give my body to backbreaking housework and have not love, it profits me not.

Love is patient with the naughty child and is kind. Love does not envy when a child wants to move to grandma’s house because “she is nice”.

Love is not anxious to impress a teenager with one’s superior knowledge.

Love has good manners in the home — does not act selfishly or with a martyr complex, is not easily provoked by normal childish actions.

Love does not remember the wrongs of yesterday and love is not evil — it gives the child the benefit of the doubt.

Love does not make light of sin in the child’s life (or in her own, either), but rejoices when he or she comes to a knowledge of the truth.

Love does not fail. Whether there be comfortable surroundings, they shall fail; whether there be Toal communication between parents and children, it will cease; whether there be good education, it shall vanish.

When we were children, we spoke and acted and understood as children, but now that we have become parents, we must act maturely.

Now abides faith, hope, and love — these three are needed in the home. Faith in Jesus Christ, eternal hope for the future of the child, and God’s love shed in our hearts, but the greatest of these is love.


 

The Method of Centering Prayer

The Prayer of Consent

Thomas Keating

Be still and know that I am God.
— Psalm 46:10
thomas-keating.png

Contemplative Prayer 

We may think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words. But this is only one expression. In the Christian tradition contemplative prayer is considered to be the pure gift of God. It is the opening of mind and heart - our whole being - to God, the Ultimate mystery, beyond thoughts, words, and emotions. rough grace we open our awareness to God whom we know by faith is within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than choosing, closer than consciousness itself.  

Centering Prayer 

Centering Prayer is a method designed to facilitate the development of contemplative prayer by preparing our faculties to receive this gift. It presents ancient Christian wisdom teachings in an updated form. Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer; rather it casts a new light and depth of meaning on them. It is at the same time a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship. is method of prayer is a movement beyond conversation with Christ to communion with him. 

Theological Background 

The source of Centering Prayer, as in all methods leading to contemplative prayer, is the indwelling Trinity: Father, son, and Holy spirit. e focus of Centering Prayer is the deepening of our relationship with the living Christ. It tends to build communities of faith and bond the members together in mutual friendship and love. 

The Root of Centering Prayer 

Listening to the word of God in scripture (Lectio Divina) is a traditional way of cultivating friendship with Christ. It is a way of listening to the texts of scripture as if we were in conversation with Christ and he were suggesting the topics of conversation. The daily encounter with Christ and reflection on his word leads beyond mere acquaintanceship to an attitude of friendship, trust, and love. Conversation simplifies and gives way to communing. Gregory the Great (6th century) in summarizing the Christian contemplative tradition expressed it as “resting in God.” is was the classical meaning of contemplative prayer in the Christian tradition for the first sixteen centuries. 

Wisdom Saying of Jesus 

Centering Prayer is based on the wisdom saying of Jesus in the sermon on the mount: “When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret. and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you”(MT 6:6). It is also inspired by writings of major contributors to the Christian contemplative heritage including John Cassian, the anonymous author of e Cloud of Unknowing, Francis de sales, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Thérèse of Lisieux, and Thomas Merton. 

The Guidelines 

  1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within. 

  2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle brie y and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within. 

  3. When engaged with your thoughts,* return ever-so-gently to the sacred word. 

  4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes. 

*thoughts include body sensations, feelings, images, and reflections 

 

Keep at It

BG-0269.jpg

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

As we experience our first week on Lent and live into our engagement with prayer, I offer you a reflection from Fred Buechner, one of my favorites.

We all pray whether we think of it as praying or not. The odd silence we fall into when something very beautiful is happening, or something very good or very bad. The "Ah-h-h-h!" that sometimes floats up out of us as out of a Fourth of July crowd when the skyrocket bursts over the water. The stammer of pain at somebody else's pain. The stammer of joy at somebody else's joy. Whatever words or sounds we use for sighing with over our own lives. These are all prayers in their way. These are all spoken not just to ourselves, but to something even more familiar than ourselves and even more strange than the world.

According to Jesus, by far the most important thing about praying is to keep at it. The images he uses to explain this are all rather comic, as though he thought it was rather comic to have to explain it at all. He says God is like a friend you go to borrow bread from at midnight. The friend tells you in effect to drop dead, but you go on knocking anyway until finally he gives you what you want so he can go back to bed again (Luke 11:5-8). Or God is like a crooked judge who refuses to hear the case of a certain poor widow, presumably because he knows there's nothing much in it for him. But she keeps on hounding him until finally he hears her case just to get her out of his hair (Luke 18:1-8). Even a stinker, Jesus says, won't give his own child a black eye when the child asks for peanut butter and jelly, so how all the more will God when his children... (Matthew 7:9-11)?

Be importunate, Jesus says not, one assumes, because you have to beat a path to God's door before God will open it, but because until you beat the path maybe there's no way of getting to your door. "Ravish my heart," John Donne wrote. But God will not usually ravish. He will only court.

Whatever else it may or may not be, prayer is at least talking to yourself, and that's in itself not always a bad idea.

Talk to yourself about your own life, about what you've done and what you've failed to do, and about who you are and who you wish you were and who the people you love are and the people you don't love too. Talk to yourself about what matters most to you, because if you don't, you may forget what matters most to you.

Even if you don't believe anybody's listening, at least you'll be listening.

Believe Somebody is listening. Believe in miracles. That's what Jesus told the father who asked him to heal his epileptic son. Jesus said, "All things are possible to him who believes." And the father spoke for all of us when he answered, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:14-29).

What about when the boy is not healed? When, listened to or not listened to, the prayer goes unanswered? Who knows? Just keep praying, Jesus says. Remember the sleepy friend, the crooked judge. Even if the boy dies, keep on beating the path to God's door, because the one thing you can be sure of is that, down the path you beat with even your most half-cocked and halting prayer, the God you call upon will finally come.

— Originally published in Wishful Thinking and later in Beyond Words

Peace and blessings on the way,

Paul.png
 

The Rev. Paul Jeanes III
Rector

A Prayer Book Lent, Pt. 2

When I lived in Durham, my spiritual director was a 70 year old Catholic nun of the old school, who was tough enough to call me on my own foolishness. One of the most memorable incidents came when I complained to her about a feeling of disconnection in my prayer life. The conversation went something like this:

Her: How often do you pray?

Me: (shrug) Um…sometimes? 

Her: Do you have any other relationship in your life that you expect to be healthy if you never speak to the other person? If you never even check in for a few minutes? 

Suffice to say that the point was made. And that point lies behind Trinity’s Lenten programming this year. I encourage you to use this time to develop the discipline of checking in with God — every day — if only for a few minutes.

By now, you may have picked up a copy of the “Prayer Book Lent” booklet that Adam Bond and I have put together for your use this season.

image_from_ios_1024-1.jpg
image_from_ios-1.jpg
image_from_ios-2.jpg
image_from_ios_1024.jpg
image_from_ios-3.jpg
image_from_ios-4.jpg

This week, as Lent gets underway, I would like to offer a few suggestions about how to incorporate the material in the booklet into your spiritual life.  

  1. For beginners, families, or those with limited time: If you’re just starting out, pick one of the daily prayer services — morning, noon, evening, or night — and commit to saying it every day. You can also include one of the daily Scripture readings listed in the back, or if you’re very pressed for time, you can stick with meditating on the “little chapter” in the service itself. If you choose one of the Scripture readings from the lectionary, keep going through either the Old Testament, Epistle, or Gospel. It’s better not to jump around. 

  2. For a more intensive experience: If you’re looking for a longer or more intensive devotional practice, try either saying more than one service every day or reading more than one Scripture lesson. You can even read the Old Testament in the morning and the Gospel in the evening, or other combinations. 

In prayer, the key is to find a practice that works well for you to do consistently. My usual practice is to say Morning Prayer every day, plus Evening Prayer some days with the students at PTS. When I worked for the government, I prayed every weekday at noon in my office. Some commuters find prayer on the train to be a helpful way to spend that time. For families with children, dinner time or bedtime might be appropriate. Different practices work best for different seasons in our lives, but the most important thing is to find a practice that works for you and stick with it — every day. 

Yours faithfully in Christ,

Kara.png
 

The Rev. Canon Dr. Kara N. Slade
Associate Rector

image_from_ios-5.jpg

A Prayer Book Lent, Pt. 1

Dear friends,

As I have mentioned in church a few times, prayer is one of the most common things people ask to learn more about in the Christian life. And so, over the course of the upcoming season of Lent, our formation programs on Wednesdays and Sundays will be focused on prayer. In particular, I would like to invite you, the people of Trinity Parish, to delve deeply into the riches of the Book of Common Prayer as a system for discipleship and spiritual growth. As I work with Princeton Seminary students who are new to the Episcopal Church, and who have come into our church because of its liturgical tradition, I realize how often we can take for granted how special our Prayer Book truly is. I will have more details in next week’s ePISTLE, as I introduce the devotional resources that Adam and I have put together for the season. 

In the meantime, as the Prayer Book says, “I invite each of you, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” (BCP p. 265). And yet, Lent isn’t a time to be falsely morose, to beat ourselves up in a show of false piety, or to be gloomy for the sake of it.  It is a time to enter in the desert, because in the desert we can hear the voice of God, who in the person of Jesus Christ names each of us as also beloved, and who calls us to be his friends. This voice, in its perfect love, calls us to put aside fear, and to wrestle earnestly with the ways we may not act like who we truly are: God’s beloved ones and friends.  Every last one of us falls short of who we were intended to be, and every last one of us is called to return to the God who loves us so fiercely and so completely.

Yours faithfully in Christ,

Kara.png
 

The Rev. Dr. Kara N. Slade
Associate Rector


P.S., For people who struggle with grief, depression, serious illness, or many of life’s other challenges, Lent can be a particularly difficult time. If that applies to you, I especially commend this short piece by my dear friend, Canon Rhonda Lee of North Carolina.

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

image_from_ios_1024.jpg

Last week, Fr. Paul and I had the opportunity to travel to General Theological Seminary, in New York City, to hear former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams share two lectures about his life as a Christian.  What a powerful witness!  Even as we move forward as Anglican Communion with various disagreements and differences, it was a gift to hear how we are united in our faith in Jesus Christ!  The Archbishop shared about key influences in his life, including Mother Kara’s favorite theologian Karl Barth and one of my own spiritual heroes and former Kentuckian, Thomas Merton.  Surely, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who light our path home to God. The Archbishop also encouraged us to engage with our local congregations as we seek to serve our world.

image_from_ios-1.jpg
Rowan Williams  [Photos: Tommy Dillon]

Rowan Williams [Photos: Tommy Dillon]

In that spirit, Trinity Church continues to forge a partnership with St. Michael’s Church in Trenton.  On President’s Day, I had the opportunity to lead their annual service of Commemoration for General George Washington. In preparation for that service, I did a little research and found out the following about St. Michael’s: 

When George Washington and the Continental army surprised the Hessians on December 26, 1776, some of the fighting of the Battle of Trenton happened in St. Michael’s church yard.   There was hand to hand combat with swords, muskets, and bayonets on church grounds.  Later in the war, the church was used by George Washington’s Continental Army as a hospital…

In 1801, the Fifth General Convention of the Episcopal Church met at St. Michael’s.  One of the most significant actions of this convention was the adoption the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion… Another historical event at St. Michael’s was the Diocesan Convention of August 1815, where The Rev. John Cross was elected the first Episcopal Bishop of New Jersey.

 In 1843, the church added the Warren Street frontage. The Gothic Revival Style of the building façade resembles a castle. The principal sanctuary of St. Michael’s was renovated to resemble Lambeth Palace, the official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury in England. St. Michael’s had two turrets and a bell tower. The turrets and towers remain, but the bell tower is no longer standing. Standing across the street on Warren looking up at the front of the church, you will see the likeness of Lambeth Palace. [Source]

Lambeth Palace

Lambeth Palace

St. Michael’s Church, Trenton

St. Michael’s Church, Trenton

Whether it’s their role in the American Revolution, the early foundations of the Episcopal Church and our Diocese, or their place in the greater Anglican Communion, we’re partnering with a congregation that has profound importance in the story of our nation and our church!  I’m so grateful to Fr. Paul and our Vestry for their decision to minister alongside the people of St. Michael’s Church!

In peace,

Chris.png
 

Br. Chris McNabb, OSF
Curate