Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.
Joseph says: Who will give lodging to these pilgrims who are weary of traveling the roads? We have come exhausted from Nazareth. I’m a carpenter, by the name of Joseph. In the name of the heavens, I beg you for lodging, my beloved wife can no longer travel.
People inside the Church answer: Although you tell us that you are weary, we do not give lodging to strangers. We don’t care what your name is; let us sleep. We are telling you that we will not let you enter.
On Sunday, December 19, 2021, the South Bronx Team Ministry [a shared ministry comprised of Misión de San Juan Bautista, St. David’s, St. Edmund’s, and St. Simeon’s] and St. Margaret’s celebrated Las Posadas (A Service of shelter for the Holy family) jointly for the first time. These two entities collaborated and worshipped at this one-of-a-kind bilingual Christian, biblical, and evangelistic service which bears its roots from the Hispanic culture. The service embodied a collection of Advent, Marian and Christmas songs accompanied with prayers and reflections in both English and Spanish. Las Posadas is a cherished Advent tradition that has been celebrated among families in Mexico and other Latin American countries for hundreds of years. In 1857, an enthusiastic priest, Fray Diego de Soria, a monk of the Order of St. Augustine, introduced the devotion in a church in Mexico. These celebrations were precisely at Christmas time and were a strong attraction to new Christians. Las Posadas became so popular that soon the celebration was taken up by other churches in Mexico and neighboring countries. Soon homeowners began celebrating in their homes where travelers went from house to house led by the angel with a little donkey on which the Virgin, Mary, was seated and Joseph walked by her side. For the most part, this celebration takes pace during Advent from December 16 through December 23 with a special service on December 24. During this novena (nine days of preparing our hearts to welcome Jesus into the world), the community gathers every night. While Las Posadas is celebrated in many unique ways today, the theme of hospitality remains vital. See a photo album of the event >
Today some churches embrace the Posadas celebration to help connect with new Latino neighbors. The Reverends Benjamin Nnaji [ Priest-in-Charge: St. Edmund’s, St. David’s, Misión de San Juan Bautista, St, Simeon’s, Bronx], Mario Martinez [Assistant priest: Misión de San Juan Bautista] and Theodora Brooks [priest-in-charge: St. Margaret’s, Longwood] and their respective congregations partnered and sought to do the same – connect with our neighbors. The service began with the priests accompanied by Mary, Joseph and the infant seeking entry into the Church. A dialog ensues between both groups - those inside and those outside:
People inside say: Who are the children of God?
People outside say: All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
People inside say: To what does the Spirit of God guide us?
People outside say: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self–control.
Once the people inside of the Church were persuaded to admit the entourage, they said, “Lodging we will give you with much happiness; enter, good Joseph; enter with Mary. Enter, holy pilgrims. Receive this corner not of this humble home, but of our hearts.” The entourage was received joyously to the music provided by a mariachi band. In his sermon, The Reverend Canon Victor Conrado, Canon for Congregational Vitality and Formation, encouraged us to be adventurous like Mary. He went on to further engage us in identifying the degradation of our individual communities which may be attributed to the pandemic – homelessness, unemployment, food insufficiencies, depression, lawlessness, fear. We have become estranged in our own skin; becoming to accustomed to isolation and alienation. Where is God throughout all this? What is God telling us to do during this time? These questions were also asked when the travelling Holy family sought a place to rest - How do we know we love the Lord and have faith?
What good is it, my brothers, and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have work? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. A simple statement that appears to be on a loop in my head is ‘meet people where they are’. In doing so, by God’s mercy we may again find ourselves as we seek to serve others and treat each other with love.
The celebration concluded with a procession into the neighborhood. Mary, Miss Hailey Montilla, rode the pony holding the infant and Joseph, Mr. David Ash, walked alongside. As we traversed the neighborhood singing, we saw onlookers through their windows; they waved enthusiastically from their warm abodes as we passed by. It was our aspiration that our neighbors would join us even if it was simply out of curiosity. Again – meet people where they are. At least they now know that we are not just a building but a group of people within that building. We anticipate this service being a staple during Advent. When our neighbors are ready, our doors will be open to receive them and with this reception may we each find ourselves and offer a corner of our hearts in the process.
Story and photos from Stephanie Harris-Ash
What, exactly goes on at a General Convention of the Episcopal Church? This is old hat to deputies who have been to five or six General Conventions, as many have, but it is always a mystery to people who have never attended the week-long gathering. So here is what the Diocese of New York is doing this year!
Your Diocesan Deputation to the
2022 General Convention
invites you to an
Online General Convention Orientation Session
The Rev. Matt Mead, Clerical Deputy
Diane Pollard, Alternate Lay Deputy
on Monday, January 31
from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Join us and learn about our diocese's
presence and participation at
the 80th General Convention of the Episcopal Church
to be held in Baltimore, Maryland, July 7-14
Click here to register for the Jan. 31 Zoom
For questions about the program, please contact:
The Rev. Matt Mead, Clerical Deputy to General Convention
Ms. Diane Pollard, Alternate Lay Deputy to General Convention
Zoom support generously provided by
the Church of the Heavenly Rest, Manhattan and its staff.
For technical support after registering,
you may contact Lucas Thorpe at email@example.com.
Religion News Service, an independent, nonprofit source of global religion news on religion, tells the story of Diäŋdït Episcopal Chapel this week.
(RNS) — On the corner of East Avenue and West Yates Street in East Syracuse, New York, sits Emmanuel Episcopal Church. The quaint building, with its bright white exterior and cherry red doors, is the home to not one, but two distinct congregations. The first, a modest parish of 25 Americans, meets early on Sunday morning, and the other, a group of South Sudanese refugees, in the midafternoon. Continue reading>
An October 30 rally urging the passage of S322/A711
Note: Photos, Video from event will be available.
[October 2021] On October 30, Say The Word: Reparations will bring supporters from around the state to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Perth Amboy, calling on the New Jersey Legislature to urge action on S322/A711 bills to establish a Reparations Task Force to confront disparities resulting from the legacy of slavery. #saythewordreparations
A coalition of civic and religious organizations will assemble to address the importance of reparations. Elected state and local officials, along with civic and religious leaders will highlight the Saturday, October 30 Say The Word: Reparations Rally beginning at 10 am at St. Peter’s, 188 Rector St., Perth Amboy.
“As we’ve seen the deeply embedded cracks of structural racism exposed under the stress of this last year and a half, it is clearer than ever that it’s time to say the word: reparations,” said Ryan Haygood, President and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “It is powerful and moving to see New Jerseyans of all races and faiths gather, make calls, email and Tweet to call for passage of legislation to establish a Reparations Task Force. Now it’s time for legislators to listen to them and finally pass A711/S322. The time is now.”
According to the state website: S322/A711 is an Act establishing the “New Jersey Reparations Task Force” to conduct research and develop reparatory proposals and recommendations to address the generational harms caused by New Jersey’s role in America’s institution of slavery and its legacy of systemic racial discrimination.
Among the rally supporters are New Jersey ecumenical and social justice leaders for concerned citizens, supporters, and members of sponsors: Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey; Unitarian Universalist Faith Action NJ; New Jersey Institute for Social Justice; Lutherans Engaging in Advocacy Ministry NJ; NAACP-NJ; New Brunswick Theological Seminary; Peoples Organization for Progress; Anti-Racist Alliance – NJ; Social Justice Matters, Inc.; The New Jersey Coalition of Religious Leaders; Salvation and Social Justice; Shiloh Baptist Church & Community Development Corporation; F-A-A-I-T-H (Faith-leaders Against Abuse in the Home); Faith in New Jersey.
St. Peter’s is a significant location as it was established in colonial times when slavery was introduced on this continent. Buried is the churchyard is Thomas Mundy Peterson, the first African American to vote in an election after the 15th Amendment was enacted, March 31, 1870. The location of the rally in Perth Amboy is also significant as Perth Amboy was a major port for the slave trade as well as a stop on the Underground Railroad for enslaved people seeking freedom.
The October 30 rally will be held rain or shine; in the event of rain, the rally will move to inside the church facility. Masks are required and social distancing will be in effect. Parking is available on church property, on the street, and in nearby lots.
A virtual rally on October 11 drew more than 100 from all areas of New Jersey, featuring testimonials and pertinent information about the need for a statewide Reparations Task Force.
Say the Word: Reparations! rally event on October 30 is the fourth in a series of Say the Word: Reparations! rallies organized by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, Peoples Organization for Progress, and the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey.
What is Reparations
According to the prestigious Brookings Institute, “Reparations—a system of redress for egregious injustices—are not foreign to the United States. Native Americans have received land and billions of dollars for various benefits and programs for being forcibly exiled from their native lands. For Japanese Americans, $1.5 billion was paid to those who were interned during World War II. Additionally, the United States, via the Marshall Plan, helped to ensure that Jews received reparations for the Holocaust, including making various investments over time. In 1952, West Germany agreed to pay 3.45 billion Deutsche Marks to Holocaust survivors. Black Americans are the only group that has not received reparations for state-sanctioned racial discrimination, while slavery afforded some white families the ability to accrue tremendous wealth.” https://www.brookings.edu/policy2020/bigideas/why-we-need-reparations-for-black-americans/
In a March 16 opinion column for The Star Ledger, “New Jersey, it’s time to tell the truth,”
https://www.nj.com/opinion/2021/03/new-jersey-its-time-to-tell-the-truth-opinion.html, Bishop William “Chip” Stokes of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey and Haygood wrote: “Too often, our state has been on the wrong side of history. In 1704, the Colonial Province of New Jersey introduced the ‘Slave Code,’ which prohibited enslaved Africans and free Africans from owning property. New Jersey opposed the Emancipation Proclamation and was the last Northern state to abolish slavery. Following the Civil War, New Jersey refused to ratify the Reconstruction Amendments.”
Stokes recently commented, “As my article and Ryan Haygood’s make clear, the effects of slavery continue to impact Black Americans in very real ways today. The legislation is necessary as a means of redressing this wrong and level a playing field which is still dramatically titled against Black Americans and other persons of color.”
Bill S322/A711, establishing the New Jersey Reparations Task Force, requires the Task Force to:
(1) examine the institution of slavery within the State of New Jersey;
(2) examine the extent to which the State of New Jersey and the federal government prevented, opposed, or restricted efforts of former enslaved persons and their descendants who are considered United States’ citizens to economically thrive upon the ending of slavery;
(3) examine the lingering negative effects of slavery on living African-Americans and on society in New Jersey and the United States;
(4) research methods and materials for facilitating education, community dialogue, symbolic acknowledgement, and other formal actions leading toward transformation, reparations remedies, a sense of justice, and economic justice among the descendants of enslaved African people in this State;
(5) make recommendations for what remedies should be awarded, through what instrumentalities, and to whom those remedies should be awarded; and
Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey www.Dioceseofnj.org
Unitarian Universalist Faith Action NJ https://www.uufaithaction.org/
New Jersey Institute for Social Justice https://www.njisj.org/
Lutherans Engaging in Advocacy Ministry NJ https://www.leamnj.org/
State of NJ NAACP http://www.njscnaacp.org/
New Brunswick Theological Seminary https://nbts.edu/
Peoples Organization for Progress https://www.njpop.org/
Anti-Racist Alliance – NJ http://www.antiracistalliance.com/
Social Justice Matters, Inc. https://www.socialjusticematters.org/
Salvation and Social Justice https://sandsj.org/
NJ Legislation https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillView.asp?BillNumber=S322
St Peter’s Perth Amboy history https://www.stpetersepiscopal.com/history
Faith in New Jersey http://faithinnewjersey.org/
Faith in Action
Faith in New Jersey http://faithinnewjersey.org/
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Drive-Through Journey to Bethlehem was born of necessity at Upper Dublin Lutheran Church during the pandemic when there were more limitations on the number of folks who could gather. But the fruitfulness of this program was so great, that they are doing it again in 2021. You can find dozens of other articles on Advent here from Building Faith.
An Illustrated Advent for Families: God With Us is just one of several affordable resources from Illustrated Ministry. This resource offers families the opportunity to take time each week of the Advent season to be intentional about their faith. There are five family devotions, coloring pages, and an Advent Calendar with a simple activity for each day.
Promise & Praise Advent Word Reflections is a resource for the season of Advent that invites readers to reflect on one word each day. The process offers a way to countdown to Christmas with a focus on God's promise in a posture of praise. These reflections are part of the larger AdventWord initiative that invites participants to create a global Advent calendar using digital media by utilizing the AdventWord hashtag and hashtag for the word of the day. Read more here about how AdventWord can be used for spiritual engagement in this season.
The Advent Planning Workshop from Lifelong Learning is now available asynchronously. You will watch Cole Arthur Riley's meditation on Advent, receive a fillable planning worksheet with reflection questions and scripture verses, hear seasonal ideas from Building Faith editor, Sarah Bentley Allred, and receive an extensive resource list.
To sign up for Lifelong Learning's eFormation or Continuing Education newsletters, click here!
You may have seen an article in the Religious News Service (https://religionnews.com/2019/06/27/on-madison-avenue-an-episcopal-priest-blesses-passersby/) about the Rev. Adrian Dannhauser, associate rector of the Church of the Incarnation in Manhattan, NY. She stands outside the doors of the church in her vestments every Tuesday morning for a half an hour with a sign that says “Ask me for a blessing. God’s grace is meant to be shared”.
The people passing by are mostly in a hurry to get on with their days, but a few greet Dannhauser and some ask her for a blessing. These are not generally the people who attend Incarnation. Many of them probably do not attend any church. She says in her blog (https://www.askmeforablessing.com/) :
“It's a surprisingly intimate experience. Coming before God with a complete stranger, united by a shared and often fervent desire for the Holy Spirit to move in that person's life. There is no pretense on either side. No need to impress. Prayer cuts through all our superficiality, right down to the heart of getting real about our need for God. This is where grace abounds. Grace from God that is meant to be shared by those who gather in God's name.”
Not every congregation has a busy street right in front of the church, so this particular version of a blessing ministry isn’t tailored to a rural congregation or even to the average suburban congregation. The concept, however, of being present in a community in a public setting offering a blessing, sharing God’s grace, can be adapted. We aren’t called, after all, to fill our church pews, but we have been sent out to share the Good News with everyone.
There are many examples of ministry in action throughout Province II. An example is Laundry Love, a special ministry of St John’s in Somerville, NJ (Diocese of New Jersey). Through Laundry Love, parishioners assist neighbors in need who are unable, or cannot afford, to wash and clean their clothes.
Once a month, St John’s volunteers station themselves at a laundromat and provide a needed service to many in the community through Laundry Love. The volunteers help clients prepare their laundry for the washing machine, feed the quarters into the machine, and repeat with the dryers.
Flyers announcing Laundry Love are posted in the area shelters, social service agencies, the food bank, and the local luncheon program (housed at St John’s). There
are no questions asked – just a willingness on the part of St John’s to help the young and old, families and couples, children and seniors who arrive at the laundromat. The numbers of those being assisted have gradually risen over the months, a tribute to the effectiveness of this ministry, and a sad commentary on the needs of society. Laundry Love is a community effort: members of St John’s donate quarters, clothes soap pods and dryer sheets: volunteers from the church are on hand to coordinate and assist the clients. And, Laundry Love could not happen if not for the generosity and cooperation of a local laundromat.
Laundry Love is a ministry that first developed in California. Over the years, pockets of Laundry Love have emerged across the Episcopal Church. At St John’s, Laundry Love has become a mainstay of ministry in the community.
For more information contact St John’s, 908-722-1250.
Neva Rae Fox, St. John’s, Somerville