Latest Sermon :
- Posted on 12 Sep 2017

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On September 17, we will be joining the congregation at the First  Presbyterian Church at 10:00 to help them
celebrate their Bicentennial.   There will be no service at St. Paul’s on that day.
If you live in or around Waterloo, or are visiting this beautiful part of the Finger Lakes, we hope that you will join us for Sunday Worship at 9:30am.  We are a very friendly parish and welcome all visitors and everyone who is considering joining our parish community.  Those at all stages of their faith journey are welcome, including those who are thinking of starting a faith journey.
All are welcome at God’s altar.  All persons, including children of all ages, are welcome at the altar for Holy Communion.
Families are encouraged to visit.  On the first Sunday of each month is our Program for Children and Teens.  Children of all ages join our program leaders, Ally Cheney and Lily Kane, two seniors at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, during the first half of our service.  They then join the rest of the congregation for Holy Communion.  All children and teens are welcome,  and should meet in our church building at the beginning of our 9:30am service.  On other Sundays, we have a family area in the back of our church building with games and activities for younger children.  Parents are welcome to bring games and activities to the pews or are welcome to take their children to the family area during the service if their children  need a break.  We LOVE to hear the sounds of infants, toddlers, and children – they add so much to our worship!
As you will see on this website, our parish is a vibrant community.  Not only do we worship together, we have many social and service events together.  The Women of St. Paul’s, the Men’s Association, and the Social Club meet monthly.  Many parish members serve during our worship services as part of the Altar Guild, the ushers, the lay readers, and the parish musicians.
Most importantly, we are a parish that celebrates with each other during times of joy and supports each other during times of sadness or anxiety.  We strive to be the type of community of which Jesus would be proud!

Jeff_about

Our Priest

Reverend Dr. Jeffrey Haugaard

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
101 E. Williams St.
Waterloo, NY 13165
(315) 539-3897

Latest Sermons (click on the title to hear the sermon)

Notes from our Priest

Working for a Radical

A few days ago, I was amused at a news story I found on my phone (I am never sure how these things arrive on my phone, but I read them sometimes).  The New York Times had “tweeted” the Declaration of Independence to everyone on their “tweet list” (or whatever it is called) on the 4th of July.  The nature of tweets is that they must be quite short – so it took a few thousand tweets to send the entire Declaration of Independence.  Each tweet was just a sentence or two from Mr. Jefferson’s wonderful document.  And, the Times did not say that they were sending bits of the Declaration of Independence – they just sent them out.

Many people wrote back outraged comments.  “How can you be sending out such radical ideas!” many people responded angrily.  Just think: our country was founded on ideas that some people believe are too radical to be “tweeted” today.  Imagine how radical those ideas were 240 years ago!

Those of us who call ourselves Christians – those who try to follow Jesus and his teachings – are following someone who was a magnificent radical 2000 years ago.   Many of Jesus’s teachings remain radical in our own day.

As patriotic Americans, we follow in the footsteps of men and women willing to “pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor” for amazingly radical ideas such as “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”

As faithful Christians, we follow in the footsteps of a man who saw a child of God in every person – even those marginalized in his culture: “For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7.8).  We follow a man who gave each person the love that a child of God deserves: “I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5.44).  We follow a man who said that greatness was not measured by wealth or possessions, but by how much one served others: “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant” (Mark 10.43).

Being so far removed from the days that Jesus lived on earth – and being so far removed from the revolutionary days of 1776 – it can be easy to forget that we follow in the footsteps of radicals: radicals willing to sacrifice all for what they knew was important.

As we look around the world today, and as we look in our own country and even our own community, we can see the spread of anger, disrespect, and hatred.  Jesus asks that we not add to this anger, disrespect, and hatred by being angry at those who are angry with us, hating those who hate us, and being disrespectful to those who treat us with disrespect.  It can be very hard to do this.

Can you think of one or two people for whom you have little respect, then struggle to see them as children of God (just as you are), and then try to find it in yourself to think of them differently?  Can you think of one or two people with whom you are angry, then struggle to see them as children of God (just as you are), and then find a way in yourself to be less angry at them?  If you can, then you will help create a world with less disrespect and with less anger.  You have the power to do this: to help make this world a bit more like the world that God wants it to be.

Go with God,
Fr. Haugaard

Praying for the President?

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

One of the strengths of the Episcopal Church is that it shies away from telling people what they should think on most matters – expecting that, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, people will prayerfully make decisions on their own.  One result of this expectation is that controversies – big and small – crop up regularly in the Episcopal Church.  Some find these controversies troubling and exasperating, others find them exciting and energizing.

A recent controversy is whether the Episcopal Church, parishes in the Episcopal Church, and individual Episcopalians should pray for Donald Trump.  Perhaps this is not unexpected, given the very strong opinions about him held by his supporters and those who do not support him.

A recent article by the Dean of the Berkeley Episcopal Seminary discusses how this controversy has affected the national church (there was significant debate about whether the Washington National Cathedral should host the traditional prayer service the day before President Trump’s inauguration) and individual parishes (some have decided not to include President Trump in their prayers).

At St. Paul’s, we usually rotate through the six forms of the Prayers of the People found in the Book of Common Prayer for our Sunday worship.  None of the forms pray for the President by name, although Form I has a specific prayer for “the President,” Form III includes a prayer “for all who govern and hold authority,” and Form V prays “for those in positions of public trust.”  Even when we use the form that names the presidential office specifically or generally, my practice has been to not include President Trump by name.  This is consistent with my previous practice of not including President Obama by name.

Should we pray, collectively or individually, for President Trump, even if he is not included in our Prayers of the People.  My reading of Scripture suggests that Jesus’s strong and unequivocal answer is “yes.”  Jesus challenges us to pray for everyone, just as Jesus challenges us to love everyone.  Each of us is a child of God and is loved by God – even those with whom we disagree strongly.  Consequently, each person deserves our prayers and love.

Jesus frequently challenges us to do things that are right but difficult.  Jesus lived his life that way and asks that we try to do the same.

While discussing the controversy about the inaugural prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral, our Presiding Bishop said of his work in the Civil Rights Movement: “We prayed for leaders who were often lukewarm or even opposed to our very civil rights.  We got on our knees in church and prayed for them, and then we got up off our knees and we marched on Washington.  Following the way of Jesus, we prayed and protested at the same time.  We prayed for our leaders who were fighting for our civil rights, we prayed for those with whom we disagreed, and we even prayed for those who hated us.  And we did so following Jesus, whose way is the way of unselfish, sacrificial love.  And that way is the way that can set us all free” (Berkeley at Yale, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2017).

Let us pray that President Trump, and each human, will be open to that wonderful experience of God’s love, and will be guided by that love to do what is right.  It is what we hope for ourselves; it is what we should hope for all others.

Go with God,
Fr. Haugaard

Baptism in the Early Church

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

During the Easter Vigil, we will be baptizing three children from our parish.  It will be a joyous evening.  I hope that you will be able to join us.  The Rite of Baptism has changed significantly in the history of the Church.  I thought that you might be interested in who was baptized and how they were baptized in the Early Church.

In the years after Christ’s death and resurrection, at the beginning of the Christian community as it emerged from its Jewish roots, baptism was fundamental to the life of the community.  This was when a person was born again into a life with the Risen Christ.

In Judaism, baptism was part of the ceremonies that were performed for those who wanted to join the faith and become Jewish.  Baptism in Israel was re-birth into a new way of life. Both men and women were baptized. Baptism signified becoming one of God’s people: “Coming out of the water, the candidate was signed as God’s sheep, slave, and soldier by the marking on the forehead with a Taw (Τ), the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, symbol of the name of God.”83 This meaning and form of baptism had a significant influence on the early Christian Church.

In the early church, baptism was not simply administered because someone wanted to become Christian. The process of becoming Christian took up to three years.  This was a period of probation, education, and nurturing in what it meant to be Christian.  It is important to remember that many Christians at this time were persecuted by the Roman and Jewish authorities.  Consequently, becoming a Christian meant that the person was willing to become a member of a community that might cost them their earthly life.

During the Eucharist services in the early church, those who were not baptized were allowed to take part in the opening part of the service, which included hymns, scripture readings, and sermon.  Following the sermon, the catechumens, as those who were seeking to be baptized were called, were dismissed, the doors locked, and the deacon would declare that all was now ready to continue to the Eucharist.  Only the baptized were allowed to hear the prayers, because it was believed that only those who had been incorporated into Christ’s body could pray through his Name.

In the early Church, the baptism occurred after the lengthy, three-year catechumenate.  After the prayers and the celebration of the Eucharist, the candidate for baptism disrobed and removed all jewelry. Then nude, as at their first birth, the candidates entered the water. They were interrogated by the Bishop or Priest. Following each interrogation (“Do you believe … “) the person was immersed in the water. Following the baptism, they were anointed with oils of birth and clothed in new clothes. They had been reborn!

Go with God,

Fr. Haugaard

Listening for God

God lives where we let Him in.
Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Kotzk

I am about a third of the way through a fascinating book: The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who was the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013. Sacks argues that science and religion are both essential for understanding the universe and humanity’s place in it.  Science and religion are not competitors for “the truth,” he states, because each has a task different from the other.  “Science takes things apart to see how they work.  Religion puts things together to see what they mean.” By combining knowledge from science and religion, we understand our world better.

The three great monotheistic religions, all of which began with that conversation between Abraham and God thousands of years ago, have, at their foundation, personal relationships between God and humans.  Knowledge of God is not essential to humans; an intimate relationship with God is.  Sacks says: “Faith is not a form of ‘knowing’ in the sense in which that word is used in science or philosophy.  It is, in the Bible, a mode of listening.”

As I think about this, I wonder if one of the reasons that so few people in our community are engaged in a relationship with God is that they find it hard to do their part in that relationship, which is to sit quietly and listen.  Our culture is one of hard work and always being engaged.  Just watch young people as they have a conversation with friends while texting someone else and checking their Facebook page.  As adults, we get up early, go to work and work hard all day, prepare meals, finish work in our home office, and fall into bed exhausted.

God speaks with us mostly through quiet touches to our souls.  The subtleness of these touches makes it hard for us to notice them as we are busily involved in our lives.  Our earthly world impinges on us so much that there may be little or no time for us to listen, quietly, for these touches from God as God reaches out to us in relationship.

The relationship with God that can fill our lives with love, comfort, and a sense of purpose, is made so much more difficult when we cannot or do not take the time to sit and listen for God.  During this season of Advent, I hope that each of us can schedule a bit more quiet time each day – time dedicated to listening, quietly, for those nudges from God as God strives to have a closer relationship with us.

And, now that I am on this subject: do people notice, as I do, how little quiet time we have in church each Sunday?  It is hard to listen for God, even in our beautiful church building, when it is not quiet.  Perhaps we can take some more time Sunday mornings for listening for that quiet but insistent touch of God, as God reaches out to us.

Go with God,
Fr. Haugaard

Our Parish Priorities

I am very pleased to include a copy of our parish’s priorities for the next several years in this issue of The Epistle.

We worked diligently for the past five months to create these priorities.  The process began with a Vestry retreat at my home last May, where we established a set of five priorities.  We distributed the initial draft of the priorities to parish members and had a parish meeting to discuss them in July.  Based on feedback from that meeting, we significantly altered one of the priorities and clarified the others.  After several rounds of feedback from members of the Vestry on the next draft of the priorities, in August the Vestry voted to submit the priorities to the parish, by mail, and ask for further comments.  Based on those comments, which included no substantial changes to any of the priorities, the Vestry voted to adopt the priorities at its meeting in September.

I am pleased that we have adopted these priorities with a unanimous vote of the Vestry and with no voiced objection from any member of the parish.  I believe that they will provide us with significant direction as we work to make parish life more meaningful for our members, proclaim the Gospel in our community, and further the work that God calls us to do.

 

Parish Priorities

Bringing Others to God

We have a long tradition of actively welcoming all members of our community and those visiting our community to our worship services.  Further, we have a longstanding tradition of accepting individuals, couples, and families where they are in their faith journeys and helping them develop a closer relationship with God.  We believe that St. Paul’s parish promotes and enhances peoples’ relationships with God through our liturgies, our preaching and other forms of teaching, our service to others, and our supportive relationships with each other.

We understand that several issues can make it difficult for some people to begin or continue their faith journeys, including: (a) the busy schedules of many individuals and families, (b) the difficulties presented when children’s activities (e.g., sports) are scheduled during times when most church services are held, and (c) the anxiety that people can experience when they consider attending services at a new parish (e.g., whether they will be welcomed, whether they will be able to follow the service).

We take seriously our baptismal vow to “proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.”   We believe that encouraging individuals, couples, and families to join St. Paul’s parish is an important way that we can “proclaim by word and example.”

Therefore, we establish as a priority of St. Paul’s parish to increase our parish membership.  We hope to accomplish this by: (a) expanding our efforts to make those in our community aware of St. Paul’s, our beliefs, and our practices; (b) continuing to create a welcoming environment for all who attend our services; (c) exploring additions to the times and places of our current services, and (d) developing strategies to reduce the anxiety that some people may experience as they consider attending services at St. Paul’s for the first time.

Enhancing the Experiences of Our Elderly Parish Members

We take pride in the fact that several members of our parish family are elderly and have been part of our parish family for decades.  During their decades of membership, these women and men have contributed to St. Paul’s in many and varied ways.  We cherish these members and are grateful for all they have contributed to our parish life and to the lives of other parish members.

Therefore, we establish as a priority of St. Paul’s parish to honor these men and women and keep them as active members of our parish.  We hope to accomplish this by reaching out to them and reminding them of the important place they have in our parish; taking the sacraments to them in their residences if they are unable to attend services; and creating opportunities for them to continue an active role in parish activities, as they are able.

Increasing the Use of Our Church Buildings

St. Paul’s has a strong tradition of serving our community and we believe that making our buildings available to community groups is one way that we do this.  In addition, we strive to be good stewards of our parish’s financial resources and believe that funds contributed by community groups toward the maintenance of our buildings can supplement parish funds.

Currently, four groups use our parish hall for meetings: the Boy Scouts and the Cub Scouts (Troop 74 and Pack 74) meet weekly except during the summer, the Finger Lakes Family Network meets every-other week throughout the year, and the Concerned Citizens Committee of Seneca County meets monthly and uses the kitchen and dining room for occasional fundraising dinners.

Therefore, we establish as a priority of St. Paul’s parish to increase the number of community groups using our parish hall for meetings and to explore whether it would be appropriate to make our church building available to other religious groups for services.

Helping Others Understand Who We Are as Episcopalians

We are proud of being a parish in the Diocese of Central New York, the Episcopal Church of the United States, and the Worldwide Anglican Communion.  We believe that Episcopalians share many basic Christian values and beliefs with those in other denominations.  In addition, over the course of several centuries, the theology, liturgical practices, and community involvement of the Episcopal Church have developed in specific and sometimes unique ways.

We believe that the Episcopal Church and St. Paul’s parish are well suited for meeting the faith-journey needs of those who share our interests in scripture, tradition, and thoughtfulness.  Further, we believe that helping others understand the values, beliefs, traditions, and practices of the Episcopal Church and St. Paul’s will encourage them to visit our parish.

Therefore, we establish as a priority of St. Paul’s parish to inform those living in Waterloo and surrounding communities about the values, beliefs, traditions, and practices of the Episcopal Church and our parish.

Being Attuned to the Changing Faith Needs of Our Community and Diocese

We recognize that the population of our region has decreased over the past several decades and that a smaller percentage of the people living here are active members of a faith community than were active members in years past.  We appreciate that our obligations and commitments are not only to St. Paul’s parish but also to our Diocese, the Church, and to the faith needs and interests of those living in our local communities.

Therefore, we establish as a priority of St. Paul’s parish to recognize the possible need to merge resources with other parishes in our Diocese in the future.  While we do not currently foresee this need, we express our willingness to explore it if future events suggest that it would be wise to do so.

 

This is an exciting time for our parish.  I hope that you will join in the excitement as we move forward together.

Go with God,
Fr. Haugaard