The Lower Lights

WE ARE NOT IMMUNE TO IT. Perhaps more than not, it comes upon us unexpectedly. It is an attack that leaves us confused. Add to that, possible feelings of anger, betrayal, fear, embarrassment, hopelessness, you name it. It is not pleasant. It is a crisis of faith.

A point of reference. Some of our nation's most notable founding fathers were Deists, not orthodox Christians. A Deist believes in a Creator-God, as do Deists, but to them this God, who brought into being this wonderful, mysterious Universe (or perhaps multiple universes), has left this unfathomable, expanding mass — including what we consider to be the crown of Creation, humankind — to run it's own course. God no longer reveals himself, God no longer is active in human affairs. The Doctrine of the Incarnation is perceived as preposterous, so it is rejected.

Deism was attractive to me decades ago. I didn’t know at the time that I was embraced in a crisis of faith. It seemed very reasonable to me. The wakeup call came about ten years after that when I realized that I, indeed, was in a crisis and it had sapped me of most of my spiritual vitality.

I am not beholden to such a crisis today, thanks to One Whom I believe remains Lord of history and human affairs, but I wonder if God is just in the shadows, watching. Still in control, but how, where? And that feeling concerns me. I think it is because we have just passed through Christmastide, when we celebrated the advent of the Prince of Peace, and I hear a tide of humanity screaming war chants, that I ponder the whereabouts of the Prince.

Was Handel’s age any different than ours that he could put into his powerful, compelling oratorio the words of Isaiah 9: 6?

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given:
And the government shall be upon His shoulder; :
And His name shall be called:
Wonderful, Counsellor,:
The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, :
The Prince of Peace.

I find myself in this isolated moment in the twilight between unshackled faith and the prison of doubt. I need to sing. Certainly I need to pray. I need to pray for peace with all the intensity and determination I can muster. Maybe I even need to dance. Above all, I need you to sing and pray and dance with me. DLT+

IT ALL BEGAN WITH A SIMPLE QUESTION, “Does St. Peter’s have an Angel Tree?” We’ve thought about it many times, but it never came to fruition until this year. Thanks to Joni Bakam, who’s involved with organizing events on LBI, we were given contact names for a couple organizations. Since we decided to start small on the initial event, Kristin Santorelli, President and Founder of Hearts of Mercy (HOM), was approached and she was delighted with our offer.

Kristin explained that the focus of this nonprofit organization is to help struggling families and individuals with the necessary support to return to a self-sufficient lifestyle through community awareness and involvement. “Your (gifts) will help us to fulfill our work through donations of time, money or service”…with an aim to ultimately “change a child’s future toward the better.”

Recipients’ names and their wish lists were given, tags were designed, and the St. Peter’s angels swooped in at the ladies’ luncheon, taking every single tag! A small Angel Tree was erected on a table in the church to hold the beautifully wrapped gifts as they poured in. Each gift was placed in a bag identified with the child’s name and the name of the parent or guardian. Distribution worked out beautifully since St. Peter’s was invited to participate in HOM’s Christmas Party at the Barnegat Recreation Center. With extra helping hands of the youth volunteers, Linda and Norm Pugliese and Candy Turner safely delivered the bounty.

The recreation center was a flurry of activity with children and adults working together hammering, gluing and painting their special work projects that would become gifts for others. Christmas music blasted from speakers, workers prepared snacks in the kitchen and “elves” and “Santa’s helpers” darted to and fro in a jolly holiday spirit assisting others. We even had an opportunity to meet one of the recipients (a Grandmother who is guardian to her ten grandchildren!). We talked about the special challenges of raising children and the support offered by HOM, but best of all was the grateful look on her face when she received the food gift card purchased by St. Peter’s especially for her, as did each family that was represented.

Thank you to all St. Peter’s “Angels” who make this delightful and loving experience possible! (This article submitted by Candace Turner)

IMPORTANT DATE: JANUARY 19. After Mass on this day we will have our Annual Meeting in the Parish House. Besides Annual Reports and other information, we will have the election for three Mission Committee terms that are ending December 31. Junior Warden (currently James Girgenti) and Barrie Putt and Ron Diamond (currently Mission Committee members). While their terms expire, under our current house policy they may choose to run for reelection. There is a procedure for Confirmed members of this church at large to be nominated for any one of those positions (although under current house policy anyone wishing to run for the position of Warden must have served on a Mission Committee or Vestry in the past). Please seek the Clerk of Mission Committee, Nancy Rudko, for Nomination Forms.

Currently, we have no approved By-laws for this mission. However, as you know, having received a prior mailing, your Mission Committee has approved By-laws for adoption at this Annual Meeting. It is important that you be present to offer any input on what you read in these By-laws. They are not binding until our congregation approves them.

IMPORTANT JANUARY DATES: BIRTHDAYS/ANNIVERSARIES Merry Wisler (2); Peggy Caffrey (5); Judie Putt (12); Genevieve Bishop (12); Gregory Turner (31), and Ken Montgomery (31).

PERSONAL NEWS, PARISH PROFILES. Dottie Reynolds had a horrific fall at her home, breaking her left arm. She is in good spirits, as we would expect her to be. Her recovery will take some time. Many friends and neighbors, and members of St. Peter’s have been very good to provide meals and care for her. Dottie’s address is P.O. Box 818, Barnegat Light, 08006. Frank Zurlo is at a rehab facility in Langhorme, Pennsylvania, having recently been hospitalized at St. Mary’s Hospital in that community. Marilyn Upton is with her daughter, recovering from recent surgery. Please keep these persons and others of our community of faith who have special needs in your prayers.

CYNTHIA CLARKE, NONAGENARIAN! The Bible says that the years of our lives are 70, or “if by reason of strength,” 80. To what do we attribute 90 years? Cynthia would probably ask us, as we inquire how she explains her long life, “Do you have a double Scotch at 4:30 every afternoon?” And then probably she would remind us that she gives it up for Lent. That is likely what saves her! And her love of pigs. Here is a picture of her birthday celebration, with pig created by Candy Turner for the cake topper!

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You are wished a Blessed New Year!

The Rev'd Father Donald Turner, Vicar.
Vicarage: (609) 494-5048 Cell phone: (609) 661-1663
Ronald Kolla, Organist (215) 704-4568