Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Reverend Laurie's Blog

Imagining Our Real Home - 07/28/2017

When you were in 5th grade and first read about Helen Keller, did you imagine what it was like to be her? Did you go into a silent room, close your eyes and move the fingers of your one hand in purposeful ways into the palm of the other, trying to conjure up a life with no sight and sound; human experience without a connection to the people whose hands touch you? And did you ever day dream about that moment in Helen’s childhood when moving fingers in her palm created a lightning bolt of meaning? There was the second before when her life was a dark closet and there was the moment right after that, when she opened a door and stood at the threshold of the real, glorious world, recognizing fo

Selecting Our New Bishop - 07/21/2017

Maybe you’ve met our Bishop, Mark Beckwith, during one of his visits to Grace. His capacity to remember people is legend and I don’t only mean names. If you had a fifteen minute conversation at coffee hour three years ago with Mark during which you told him about your boyfriend’s band and your part time job driving a school bus, Mark will remember the band’s name is ‘Green Wilma’ and will ask if that kid ever stopped playing the flute with his nose on the ride home because you told him it would get stuck there permanently if you hit the breaks. During his tenure as Bishop, Mark has visited each of the one-hundred-and-two churches that comprise the Diocese of Newark three times and has c

Meeting Your Melvonna - 07/14/2017

I first met Melvona Hicks about twenty years ago. As the newly hired “Parish Missioner” of my then church I was sent out to the parish: everyplace within walking distance of our physical address. My job was to talk to strangers and find out how my community of faith could be “Good News” to people outside of Sunday worship. For weeks people looked at me like a used car salesman but I kept starting conversations across the invisible lines that separated the well healed and struggling by neighborhood. Most of the time it was the moms who were willing to shoot the breeze with me while they watched their kids in the playgrounds and from the stoops. I asked them about the neighborhood, t

How Being Loved Re-Wires You - 07/07/2017

When I moved into Rosemary’s 5th floor, railroad apartment in 1992 the city was a stop for me, not a destination. No fan of crowds, traffic and noise, I wanted to get ordained and head to a church some place with rolling fields, apple orchards and soft mountains. Rosemary was open to this possibility but she was also a Hudson County native with a family who had resided there for well over a hundred years. My introduction to Rose’s family, the McLaughlins, came that Thanksgiving at her parent’s apartment. Their wooden table was unfolded along with some TV dinner stands that took up all of the open space in their tiny living room straight into the even smaller bedroom. There were about

Why Does Jesus Tell Stories? - 06/30/2017

A lawyer asked him the seemingly simple question “Who is my neighbor?” and Jesus answered with a lengthy story about the Good Samaritan. Some prominent religious leaders noted that for a supposedly holy guy Jesus spent significant amounts of time with people who were living examples of why not to walk alone in a parking lot at night. Jesus retorted with a story about a shepherd who had a screw loose and left his entire flock to fend for itself while he went looking for a sheep he lost. The older I get the more I cherish stories in general and Jesus’ most of all. Jesus’ stories wait. Some years you just brush past them like weird dreams, in other seasons you walk into them and touch ever

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Grace Church Van Vorst  | 39 Erie Street  |  Jersey City, NJ 07302  |  Phone: 201-659-2211  |