News from Saint Thomas Church Week Beginning September 29

In this week’s news…


“Physicians of the heart.”  

Father Adam Spencer (Photo Credit: Sebastian Orr)

That’s one of the titles for pastors used by St. Gregory the Great in his text The Book of Pastoral Rule – one of the most influential pastoral care manuals which we have from the early church. I’ve quoted from the pulpit Pope Francis’s description of the Church as a “field hospital,” and indeed we your clergy are some of the medics in that hospital. When folks are afflicted by loss, struggling with suffering, or discerning a difficult decision, we your pastors are there with you to tend to your heart.

As we look ahead to this weekend’s Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, one can see the “field hospital” model of pastoral care in the story of Jesus being ministered to by the angels in the desert after his temptation. When our Lord has been weakened and wearied by his wrestling with the temptations of the Evil One, the angels arrive to tend to him, to care for him. (See Matthew 4:11) And, certainly, there is this element to much of pastoral care – the emergency room, bedside care of souls who are grieving or exhausted or at the end of their rope.

But St. Gregory, in his text, primarily views the ministry of pastoral care through one of the great theological lenses of his time: asceticism.  Specifically, it is desert monastic asceticism, which highlighted the individual struggle against sin and the pursuit of personal virtue and a deeper life with God. Seen through the lens of asceticism, the pastor’s work is to help prune the garden of the heart of all that chokes out grace as the person in their care moves ever closer to God. A pastor, here in this model, is less of an emergency room doctor and more like a physical therapist – counselling strength and the way forward into fuller spiritual health and wholeness.

In his sermon last Sunday, the Rector urged us all to “put God first.” Pastoral care is always about putting God first – whether that’s bringing the love of God, the tender mercy of Jesus, to the bedside of the sick or the dying, or through spiritual direction and counsel to help discern the right way to live a holy life.

It is Annual Appeal season and we need your support to continue the pastoral work which we do here at Saint Thomas in Jesus’s name. When you pledge to this parish, you are supporting the availability of this ministry of healing and spiritual fitness, of care and challenge.

Your “physicians of the heart” are always on-call for you, so please do not hesitate to call on us when you need us. We, your priests and pastors, are here for you: to comfort and encourage, to counsel and discern, to walk beside you in this great pilgrimage of faith which is our life in Christ.

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Faithfully,

Father Adam Spencer
Associate Priest for Pastoral Care

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At Saint Thomas Church, there are a wide variety of parish ministries and opportunities for service, some more visible than others. On Sunday, September 29 after the 11am service, we will host a Parish Ministry Fair in Andrew Hall where the various ministries of our community will present themselves to all those who come. It will be a great time to discover more about the full life of Saint Thomas and to consider new ways to be involved.

Our 11am service on Sunday, September 29 is also a time when our Parish  Volunteers will be recognized and commissioned for the new program year. If you serve on a parish guild, committee, or group, please be sure to come!

Join us for this festive day!

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For the Fall season, our parish will take part in a sermon series as a part of our parish’s Annual Appeal for 2020. This series will include our clergy and guests who will preach on themes exploring the joys and responsibilities of our common life. Join us at our 11am services for this fine array of preaching.

      • Sept. 22 – The Rector – Worship – Stewardship Sunday
      • Sept. 29 – Father Spencer – Pastoral Care
      • Oct. 6 – Father Moretz – Community and Belonging
      • Oct. 13 – The Rector – The Choir School
      • Oct. 20 – Mother Turner – Children and Families
      • Oct. 27 – Father Cheng – Education and Formation
      • Nov. 3 – The Rev. Andrew C. Mead, Rector Emeritus – All Saints’ Sunday
      • Nov. 10 – The Rev. Dr. Daniel Heischman, Executive Director of the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES) – Remembrance Sunday and Choir School Centennial Alumni Weekend
      • Nov. 17 – The Rector – The Strategic Plan
      • Nov. 24 – The Rev. Dr. Sam Wells, Vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Field, London, UK – Commitment Sunday

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God speaks to all of us in many ways – in prayer, dreams, videos we see, or people with whom we talk. OnThursday, October 17 at 6:30pm in the Parish House, we will focus on how God speaks to us. Kris Ishibashi, ministry starter and former warden at St. Michael’s Church, will offer a personal reflection to get the conversation started. We look forward to a wonderful evening of fellowship, conversation, and, of course, supper.

RSVP by Tuesday Oct. 15 at east@dioceseny.org

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