The political, social, and religious situation in the world today is similar or worse than what it was in Israel then. The sins of God’s people are many and God is judging us. Like the Israelites, we are not happy with God’s response to our fasting. But God is telling us that our motives are not genuine and we are fasting for the wrong reasons.  We fast because we want something from Him. Only when we take up true fasting for the right reasons will He answer our prayers. Isaiah 58:1-10 is less about fasting and more about genuine worship. God is asking us to have love and compassion for others and to help those in need. Only then will we receive his blessing.  

To listen to the scripture click here

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We Want to Worship With You

Click here to enjoy LordSong  ‘Lord of the Dance Hymn’ – YouTube

Lord of the Dance” is a hymn written by English songwriter Sydney Carter in 1963. The melody is from the American Shaker song “Simple Gifts“. The hymn is widely performed in English-speaking congregations and assemblies.” [Wikipedia]


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Thank you, Teachers, School Administrators, Board of Education Members!

You have been the center of the latest major dilemma and debate in our country as school districts are working out what education will look like in the coming academic year. It feels like impossible work, with a vast number of needs, opinions, wants, pushes, and pulls. In a conversation with parents from Elliot’s school this week it was noted that “a fix for one family is a break for another.” How do those who have decision-making power and a stake in these decisions begin to weigh all of the factors and lead us forward?

I do not have a magic answer here, by any means. I do wonder if we might continue seeking the Kin-dom of God as we approach these matters, from whichever place we do so. Does anything become clearer when we continue to ground ourselves in the Kin-dom values, such as the Beatitudes and Parables, Jesus teaches and lives?

I’m not going to try to name all of our teachers, school administrators, and BOE members in our congregation, because I will miss way too many of you. But know that you are in my heart and my prayers. We celebrate you and encourage you in this very difficult time. And we likewise encourage our families with school-aged children who are also making difficult decisions, enduring extra anxiety and uncertainty, and continuing to be part of a teaching team with our kids’ professional teachers.

Be well, be safe, wear masks, and keep social distances.    

Pastor Jenny.

To watch what NJ schools will look like this Fall click here

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Response: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…”

What is YOUR concept of the Kingdom of Heaven? Or as we sometimes say, the “Kin-dom of Heaven.” You are invited to respond to Pastor Jenny Smith Walz. On July 26, 2020, when Pastor Jenny Smith Walz invited us to finish the sentence “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…” She referred to these verses from the lectionary,

Matthew 13:31—33

Matthew 13: 44—52

Romans 8:26—39

What is your idea of the Kin-dom? Your vision of a ‘beloved community?” YOU ARE INVITED to  comment on this Facebook post or ask the Communications Ministry Team ( how your words might be published.

Some resources:  a link to the bulletin) with this prayer:

 Form in us a new vision of community in which there is neither East nor West, neither South nor North. We pray for the sake of your Kin-dom that both is and is not yet.

If you want to hear the sermon again, go here and choose July 26 

The Benediction was a poem from Rumi

The Last Word

The Absolute works with nothing.

The workshop, the materials

Are what does not exist.

Try and be a sheet of paper with nothing on it.

Be a spot of ground where nothing is growing,

Where something might be planted,

A seed, possibly from the Absolute.

–Mevlana Julaluddin Rumi 1207-1273
Trans. Colman Barks
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Children’s Time: The Marvelous Mustard Seed

Though books read at Children’s Time are – yes – for children, they also help to illuminate what adults will hear in the sermon that follows. On July 26, 2020, Pastor Jenny Smith Walz drew on parables from Matthew 13:31—33 & 44—52 to preach on “The Kingdom of Heaven is Like..” She read a story about a child who plants a mustard seed in an empty garden. “It is an itty-bitty seed. It isn’t anything very special—yet.”

The closing lines of this book, The Marvelous Mustard Seed.   say that the parable of the mustard seed “helps us to imagine what can be….but isn’t yet.” Here is this story, read by a church in Tuscaloosa.


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JULY 26, 2020: “Jesus Speaks in Parables” and “God’s Love”

“He put before them parables: ‘Have you understood all this?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’”

“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


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SUNDAY, JULY 26, 2020



We Want to Worship With You

Click here to enjoy  ‘Blessed Assurance’ Christian Worship Song Lyrics -YouTube

Blessed Assurance,”  a well-known Christian hymn, is on the list for the Summer Hymn Sing, before the 10 A.M. worship service. The lyrics were written in 1873 by blind hymn writer Fanny Crosby to the music written in 1873 by Phoebe Knapp. The popular song reflects Crosby’s walk of faith, as expressed by the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (ESV).” [Wikipedia]

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Responding: July 19, 2020

At Duke University, the statue of a confederate general was removed from the chapel entrance

On July 19, 2020, Pastor Jenny Smith Walz addressed the conflict I have been holding in my heart — how to condemn the evil of white supremacy and still love those (in my family and elsewhere) who perpetrated it, those (including me) who benefit from it, and those (in the #endracism movement) who — as they try to eliminate symbols of injustice from public places — find it hard if not impossible to acknowledge that someone who did evil may also have done good.

Let’s admit that we ignore 98 percent of the information that we see or hear. Of the remaining two percent, we put half into a bucket, labeled “I like this,” and the other half into a bucket labeled “I dislike this.”

Don’t believe that the human race is so cruel and blind? Here’s what Pastor Jenny cited as historic examples.

Let’s send the convicts to Australia.
Let’s create an Aryan society.
Let’s eliminate the Tutsis.
Let’s create different sets of privileges for those with black and brown bodies.
Let’s block whatever the opposing party in Congress wants.
Let’s leave our church because someone I don’t approve of can belong.
Let’s put this person’s name in stone on the bad list, so no longer can I see them as a whole person.

It’s the last one that twangs my heart.

Click the arrow for “previous” to get the July 19 service and sermon.

For the middle of this post click here

In this sermon I think Pastor Jenny is trying to open a safe space for everyone, no matter where they are in their opinions.  She closed with this poem, ending… 

May my peace and acceptance
be the seeds I sow
for the next harvest. 

from Weeds and Wheat, by Steve Garnaas-Holmes
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: July 19, 2020


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To Ponder: Sermon excerpt July 19, 2020

“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be…
This is the inter-related structure of reality.”

excerpt from Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail and the Struggle that Changed a Nation

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