Dear Saints,

Here we are at yet another extremely difficult moment in the country and in our own lives. We all deal with stress and anxiety differently but many of us are nearing a tipping point with all that we are handling, over and above Covid’s past, present and dastardly future.

Sometimes sharing our concerns and fears with others is helpful. Sometimes we don’t get the support or listening ear that we need and/or we get even more triggered by other’s comments and responses.

As we await both election results and wonder what violence may erupt as a result while also worrying about the next Covid wave, it is hard to know what to do.

There are many articles swirling about on-line and in print of “to dos” to reduce anxiety over Covid and the election (among other agitators). Certainly self-care, getting enough rest, exercise and eating right are mentioned in most every article as well as limiting our time on the internet, news outlets and the like. But suggested activities for our hearts and souls are less prevalent.

As believers the first thing to do is pray. Not only pithy prayers of thanksgiving and supplication but intentional, active prayers that have the power to reshape our thoughts and emotions.

The Psalms are always a wonderful place to go and they are timeless and speak to every human emotion. There are also fresh, modern prayers written by gifted people who can speak to this very time and place. As we wait and wonder what to do, how to fill our time and our hearts I hope this prayer by Sarah Are, a young Presbyterian Minister and Founding Creative Partner of “A Sanctified Art “will be a help.

May we pray this often in the hours and days to come:

Holy God, We come to you today in prayer, full of emotions. Election seasons always seem to bring that out in us— Worry and hope, fear and frustration. The list could go on. So today we bow our heads and ask for guidance. Open our ears to hear the groans of creation.

Open our eyes to see the needs of others. Open our hearts to make room for empathy. Give us the wisdom to navigate challenging conversations. Give us the compassion to make decisions for the greater good.

And when all else fails, bring us back to love. Bring our hearts and our hands, Our dreams and our hopes, Our anger and our frustration, Our hurt and our fear, All back to love.

 With hope we pray, With hope we are sustained. Amen.

Praying with you,

Rev Jen


Dear Saints,

In now, month (7!) of Pandemic life, I want to share an experience with you, in case it’s helpful. It was for me. I had a Dr’s appointment. It wasn’t an appointment for nothing, but I hoped it wasn’t anything.

After checking in, I sat down, and waited my turn.

In they came.

An elderly couple. Either of them could barely walk. He had a cane but could have used a walker. She was ambulating under her own steam but looked like the wind could blow her over. They checked in and sat down, 6-8 feet away.

They started to converse. As you all know, conversations in a Dr’s office are rather audible and this was no exception. They weren’t particularly loud but they were clearly discussing something.

I tried to go back to my meditative/prayer practices, closing my eyes, paying attention to my breathing…but they kept at it.  Because there were just the three of us, it was next to impossible to shut out the conversation. They were spirited for sure and likely unaware I could hear them.

They weren’t discussing the appointment, potential maladies/diagnoses or current symptoms. Nor were they discussing an article in a magazine, complaints about transportation, aches and pains, or what the Dr. might say.

I was actually in amazement because…I was sorting out most all of those things in my head, as I waited for the Dr. visit.

While I was “spinning plates” for all of my concerns about my Dr. visit, they were spending their time… wait for it…Trying to figure out… how to sign on to the local WIFI while they were in the Dr’s office! Hilarious.

10 years ago (ish) we were just getting smart phones and our parents and grand parents were just learning how to use (and answer) flip phones. We all thought that the technology would leave a gap between us and the previous generations. First it was cell phones but then older adults started getting them. Then it was texting and they learned how to do that. Then Facebook showed up (because it was the only way people could see their kids and grands). Then came Facetime. And then InstaGram, TikTok and Zoom.

Friends, if 80 and 90 and 100 year old’s can adjust to the times (and the technology) we find ourselves in, then we can too.

We are having to adjust and endure times that we never knew were possible. We are having to adjust and endure times that we have no frame of reference for, no training for, no solutions for.

Yet, this is where we are. We can sit and worry and wonder and disaster-ize, or we can get about living, adjusting and re-tooling so that we can enjoy and appreciate the gifts God gives us, even in the midst of the unpleasant, the unpredictable and the unknowing.

Seeking God’s conversations with you,


It’s easy to give to the Memorial Fund

Gifts made directly to our Music and Scholarship funds are popular ways to honor members, but a gift to our general Memorial Fund finances special projects, e.g. the handicap entrance. While checks can be mailed to the church office, gifts can also be made online. Fill in the $ amount and select “Memorial Fund” from the “to” dropdown. Be sure to add the honoree’s name in the “Comments” box. FYI: 10% percent of each general Memorial Fund gift goes to Scholarship.

Ride The Wave

Dear Saints,

How did it get to be July???? Sigh.

Summer is my favorite time of year. It’s so rife with possibilities for fun and refreshment but this Summer? Not so much.

I’ve been pondering God’s invitation of how we deal with disappointment. We all deal with disappointment differently. Some of us ‘throw a fit’ and/or take it out on a spouse, child, neighbor, co-worker or kick the dog. Some of us just chronically complain to any and all who will listen. Some of us pout or just shut down. Some of us get lost in the internet, video games or binge watch. Some of us have healthier coping mechanisms and throw ourselves into a house project, advanced gardening, learn a new hobby or exercise.

Israel was also invited to learn how to deal with an intense level of disappointment when they were sent into exile in Babylon. They knew why they were sent there and knew they’d be there for an unspecified amount of time, which turned out to be 50-70 years. (The historical and biblical timelines don’t add up.)

We too are in an exile and we too don’t have any clue how long this time of worry, anxiety and disappointment will go on. Only that it will be ‘a while longer’. I think about Israel when they were in Babylon and how they dealt with their exilic displacement which was disappointment at a whole new level. They were displaced in a foreign land with different customs, language, terrain and no temple to worship in. At least we are sheltering in place our own country and homes, we can garden our own land and can eat our indigenous foods (like pizza and ice cream). But we certainly share the experience with Israel of having to learn new customs and life patterns, new habits and even a new language of “life in the time of Corona”.

The book of Jeremiah (especially chapters 29 9and 30) chronicle Israel’s experience with how to deal with intense and sudden change.  We explored Jer 29 many times throughout Lent. It was helpful then. It is helpful now. “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. “(29:11) A big part of learning how to deal with disappointment is learn to adapt to things that happen to us and seek the hidden blessings.

A friend of mine who got her doctorate in Gerontology Exercise (at the age of 65) was a research assistant involved in nationwide study of all living Holocaust survivors. She did many of the interviews in person and always asked to see their tattoos; the system used to ‘identify’ each prisoner held captive in a concentration camp.  Her research experience was not at all depressing but actually invigorating and enlivening. I asked her was there a theme to the responses from the survivors who were thriving. She said “yes, they learned how to surf the waves.”

While we may not be able to or want to surf the waves or be in a pool this Summer, one thing’s for sure: God is with us in this. Who do you think made the waves?

Surfing all the waves with you,


Holmes Public Library Update

On behalf of the Boonton Holmes Library family, I hope this email finds everyone well and safe.

At the library, we are brainstorming daily and thinking of new ways to support and assist the Boonton community during these quarantine times. We have several online services, monthly programs, and activities scheduled for residents to join and to participate in every day.

I am reaching out to you to explore any ideas or suggestions the members of your organization may have how the Boonton Holmes Library can assist, support or entertain you better. We would love to hear from you!

Following is a list of services, programs and activities we are currently providing during quarantine:

Chat Room – Monday-Friday 10-2

Pre-made craft kits for all ages

Online library card registration

HOOPLA – online borrowing eBooks, audio books, comics, movies, music & more

CLOUD Library – online borrowing books

RB Digital – online borrowing magazines and comic books

Boonton Tales: We would love to hear your story!

Yoga, Fiber Arts Club, Book Club, Story Time, Movie Nights, Happy Hour

Online lessons for ZOOM, WEBEX, FACEBOOK LIVE and more!

Volunteer opportunities

Boonton History

Boonton Times – accepting donations for digitalizing copies of the BT

Please refer to our website for more detailed information regarding the above services, programs and activities, just Reply to this email or join the Chat Room. Once the stay-at-home orders are lifted, we look forward to resuming full services in a manner that is safe for our community and staff alike.

Watching for the dawn

I was hoping that the June 1st updates from our Governor might shed some more light on the possibility of worshipping together sooner than later. As of today, indoor gatherings of up to 10 are now sanctioned as well as outdoor gatherings of up to 25. Both the session and the Covid task force, who have both “Zoomed” last 2-3 weeks, have been brainstorming what might be possible for future gathering/worship.

Concurrently, we have been trying to offer the most hopeful, life-giving and increasingly diverse worship experiences with great reliance on technology and skilled Media folks and a small group of people who you entrust to offer meaningful worship.

As of this evening, the state’s next level of opening, what I’m calling “Phase 2, sub-set a”, does not give churches permission to worship fully, either indoors or out. That is part of “Phase 3”.  Even if we attempted to organize in-person worship, indoors or out, both options would bring a different set of challenges and do not accomplish safe worship for ALL, (even without hand-shakes, hugs, passing of the peace and the hearing and singing of hymns.

In addition, when Phase 3 is exacted, there are still many logistics to sort out, including that every church within Newton Presbytery will need to submit and receive approval of their ‘re-entry plan’ before worship can commence. I think this is very prudent and wise.

So, we are in an interim time.

The Deacons met this evening via Zoom and I shared some excerpts from John O’Donohue’s book The Space Between Us as our closing prayer : “…you are in this time of interim, where everything seems withheld, The way forward is still concealed from you…The more  faithfully you can endure here, the more refined your heart will become, for your arrival in the new dawn.”

I don’t know how long we’ll need to gather, worship, teach and share fellowship apart, but I know THIS community of faith can sustain that as long as we need to, to keep everyone connected and everyone safe. Here’s why. When I was meeting with the PNC (Pastoral Nominating Committee) 14 years ago I asked about their sense of ministry, mission and their future. The youngest member, (who is now over 40 said), “if we couldn’t worship in this space for any reason, we’d find another place; the building doesn’t matter, the mission and ministry does. Nothing can stop us.”

We’re not stopping. We’re just missioning and ministering in smaller spaces until God brings us the new dawn.

Watching for the dawn with you,

“Weekly Words of Wisdom”

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Well, it’s been over two months of sheltering in place, social distancing, wearing masks, and avoiding gatherings. So how are you dealing with it?  I’ve heard a variety of reactions to this whole situation.  There’s anger, frustration, loneliness, fear, acceptance; there are beautiful examples of how people have used their creativity to bring something new to a bad situation. There are moving stories of people helping other people, like the wonderful volunteers at our own Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry.  So life goes on, however changed and changing it may be.

One thing I’ve heard from time to time is how lonely, or alone, people feel. One psychologist has said that loneliness is a feeling of being alone against your will.  She said that you can be alone and not be lonely, or you can be lonely even if you are surrounded by people.  But human beings need social interaction, physically and spiritually.  We crave being connected to others.  So the new normal, thanks to Covid-19, presents us with the tricky situation where we need to try to remain socially and spiritually connected, while being physically distant.

But how do you do that?  Well, first of all let’s take a look at what our faith tells us.  First, it says that you are NOT alone.  God is with you.  You can depend on that. As the benediction from our last service said, “God goes before you to guide you, beside you to be your best friend, behind you to protect you, beneath you to support you, and above you to give you vision and courage and hope.”  That’s a given!  And secondly, our faith says that we are part of a community, a loving and faithful community of God’s people.  In this community, the church, we are called to help and support one another, to be the “support community” for each other.  The question is, what does that mean in the face of this pandemic?  How can we live that out, in real time, as we follow all the guidelines? That’s what we need to be figuring out, and some of you have. But it’s not easy! And yet it’s necessary; it’s a part of our calling, as Christians, in this moment in history.

Let me close with an image that has helped clarify my own thinking about the Christian life. The image is the cross. We have a vertical relationship with God, and we have a horizontal relationship with one another and with our world. Together, they form the cross, and, for a full and meaningful Christian life, you can’t have one without the other. We need both relationships for our wholeness. May we discover how to make that happen in these difficult and challenging times.

Rev. Sherm Skinner

“Weekly Words of Wisdom”

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

“I have been thinking, as doubtless you have all been, of these calamitous weeks through which we have been passing—thinking of the large numbers that have been sick— the large numbers that have died, the many, many homes that have been made desolate—the many, many bleeding, sorrowing hearts that have been left behind, and I have been asking myself the question, What is the meaning of it all ?”

This was the Reverend Francis James Grimke, an African American Presbyterian pastor in  a sermon of November, 1918 on the devastation caused by the Spanish Flu pandemic that had raged in the spring and again in the fall. (What Pastor Grimke couldn’t have known was that a few months later there would be a third deadly wave.)  When the congregation gathered for corporate worship again he raised these questions.  “Surely God has a purpose in it”, he said, “and it is our duty to find out what that purpose is.”   He goes on to reflect on another question, of why some are stricken and others not.”  He raised similar questions to ours today.  Why are some asymptomatic and yet spreading the corona virus?  Why are some testing positive and enduring only mild symptoms?  And why are some dying within 2 days of contracting covid 19?  

 A new frontier, a challenge,  and a time that demands courage.  We are on new ground, in the strange land of social distancing and face masks.  Everything that once seemed so secure, so certain, so steady and reliable has become fragile and we have become susceptible,  and vulnerable.  But we are still here and it’s time to begin asking God what God is calling us to now.  Yes, we are still here trying to find a natural courage that casts out fear.  Yes, still here and looking for patience in the crisis, trusting that Christ is working to transform even this cross into resurrected glory.  Perhaps it’s time to reassess, to once again discern our gifts, seeking transformation.

Grimke turned to Psalm 91: “You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God in whom I trust”  For He will deliver you…from the deadly pestilence…”    Trusting in God in similar distressing circumstances, he said “it is a good time for those of us who are Christians to examine ourselves to see whether our faith is really resting upon Christ, the solid Rock.”

So what is the next step?  We are challenged now to renew our trust in God who is always with us, especially in our unknown future, calling us forth into something new and perhaps strange, but with the assurance that God will bless us always with visible signs of invisible grace. We just need to trust.

Rev. Lorrie Skinner