October 21, 2020 “What happens here, doesn’t stay here…”
Dear Church Family,
After last evening’s Consistory meeting, where there was a unanimous vote to begin with a small, socially distanced, safe-as-we-can-make-it gathering for All Saints Sunday worship on November 1, my mind began to wander frantically. How will we do this? What other safety measures should we take? Who will want to come back? How will these services go? At times throughout the evening after that, I found my emotions a little close to the surface. I believe it was a mixture of both joy and fear. While we know fear is never the answer, the what if’s began to drift in, mixed with the joys of once again having people back home. (Details of what the current plan is will be shared in news article following this letter.)
This morning I received a note that one of my favorite modern theologians has just published a new book. Barbara Brown Taylor’s book “Always a Guest” is now on it’s way to my home. I read with interest the preview, and I always love her writing and speaking, as I read I can usually hear her speaking the words she has written and I love her style. I also love the spirit in which she approaches subjects. Taylor wrote something in this book near the end of the introduction though that was a great reminder to me. She wrote, “Give voice to faith that is within you, (that is our responsibility).”
I read that phrase and it struck me, I don’t need to be anxious, I don’t need to worry and fret over what may be, what could I say, how will things be, I need to be trusting and give voice to the faith that is within me. We all do. What is it I believe in my heart and preach every week, God loves us, we are God’s children and God is our God. I thought to myself, be smart, be faithful and give voice to my faith.
Consistory members had done just that as they spoke of the longing to be together, as they expressed ways we could work to keep safe as they gave voice to their own fears and hopes and longings. And could it be in the midst of a Zoom Call where everyone is a box on a screen, that I had heard and experienced the voices of faith the movement of the Holy Spirit in our midst?
And then I wondered, is this not what we all need, does it take a reminder to pause and allow the faith within us to come out? Do we get so caught up in ourselves, in what’s going on around us, in being in control that we don’t pause and listen to the still small voice from within? And then I was reminded of the story Elijah.
In I Kings 19, we read of Elijah running from a place of fear for his own life and Elijah ends up hiding in an actual or proverbial cave awaiting a voice from God to give him direction. And after the storms came and the winds blew and the mountain shook, Elijah couldn’t find God’s voice in the noise. It wasn’t until the quiet, after all the commotion, that Elijah heard God’s voice in a “still small way,” a whisper. And I wonder, how often do we realize the need for quiet from the noise of society and especially in our own heads to hear the voice of God within us, allowing us to give voice to the faith within?
For me, that is what occurred last night in our Consistory meeting. A few of our folks began to give voice to their faith and after way more than the 40 days (but who’s counting that it’s been 32 weeks for us since we have met together) Elijah traveled to get to that cave, a renewed voice of faith and hope has emerged. May we strive to be attentive to the voice of faith within us, seek to quiet our own biases enough to listen and hear the still small voice of God’s grace and hope and love, always.
In our daily prayers…
Please keep in your prayers this day: Tom and Peggy Reimensnyder and their family, Peggy continues with home hospice care and prayers are requested for Carol Oberlin and KJ Reimensnyder and their extended family at this time. Amy Snider will be facing shoulder surgery to repair damage from a fall a few months ago and has asked for our prayers and for her family; Jo Beatty continues now in rehab for injuries from a fall; Linda Beaver is recovering from a medical issue and we ask for prayers for her and Todd; Floyd Merritt has passed all his exams and is preparing to start a new Full Time position as a Barber Teacher within the Federal Prison system, and we give thanks for this. Rev. Kay Korpics takes her next step toward her Doctorate in Ministry this week and I would ask we keep Rev. Kay in our prayers through this process. Additionally, time is getting close for the Sample family in welcoming a new baby girl, so we ask that you keep the Sample family in your prayers. Finally, and not the least or the complete list, however I would ask that you continue to keep your church and me as your pastor in your prayers as we prepare and explore ways to connect through worship in the coming months.
Please remember to either join or update the prayers on St. Paul’s Love and Prayers Facebook page, send an email or call the church office with updates or requests that we together may pray as a community of faith.
Christian Education (click on Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5705681433)
· Sundays with Dave and Friends – 9:15 weekly (a Bible Study on Revelation)
· Monday Morning Preacher – 10:30 a. m. weekly (Let’s talk about Sunday’s text)
· Wednesday Musings and Theology – 6:30 p.m. weekly (Book study, see description below)
· Non-Zoom daily devotions with “Faithful Families”
What happens here doesn’t stay here (ways to connect in the community):
· Fresh Express (2nd & 4th Thursdays each month)
· Fall Lawn / Yard Clean-up
· Painting, Cleaning and Organizing at the Church
· Pantry Remodeling at the church
· Fall Family Fun Packets
· The Community Soup Sale (early November)
· Community Thanksgiving Baskets
· Equal Exchange Coffee Sale
· CARE team Goodies and Meals
Reach out to learn more about these and many other opportunities at the church!
Are you ready boots? Fall Hike, Sunday, October 25, 3 p.m. (new time) in the afternoon, is the date and time. Dale Engle Walker trail, Lewisburg. Contact the church office for more information. Please mark your calendars now and check back here for additional information soon!
Feeling burnt out or just looking to take a break? Check out: “Take My Life and Let it
Be” with friends for Wednesdays Musings and Theology: 6:30 p.m. weekly. Jump right in wherever we are, electronic copies of the book are available as well as hard copies. Contact Pastor Tim or the church office to obtain a hard copy. (A special thanks to Rhonda Newman for helping facilitate this group!)
The Soup Sale is ON! Help spread the word! Our annual Mission fundraiser Soup (no Bake this year) Sale will take place on Saturday, November 7 (pre-orders only), however it will look a little different this year! In order to keep everyone safe and keep this great tradition going…Here’s what you will need to know:
· We will offer 4 soups (Ham & Bean; Vegetable Beef; Chicken Corn and Chicken Tortellini)
· Soup will be $7 per quart
· Pre-orders are required by November 4 deadline.
· No “day of” sales (any leftovers will be advertised on Sunday)
· Soup will be drive by and pick up from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
· You may pre-order via a link on the church website www.spuccwm.org and you may…
· Prepay, check on day of or Easytithe are preferred (to reduce cash handling) and
There are ways for everyone to continue to participate. If you would like to help in soup making or willing to donate towards ingredients, please reach out and contact the church office (570) 568-1433.
Saint Paul’s Coffee Club is currently taking orders for the Fair-Trade products. All proceeds benefit our Mission Fund and all purchases go to benefit independent farmers. Order forms are available to be emailed to you or you may download from the church website. You may then turn in your order form via email or to the church office. Orders will be filled with the stock we have, until we run out and then we will place a bulk order. Order cut-off each month is 3 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month. Payment is due when order is placed. We will notify you of the pick-up date and time.
You may pay for your orders via a check made to SPUCC or Easytithe.
Returning to Worship…Coming Home:
As I mentioned in my opening article, we are beginning to take steps to return to Worship in some small ways. First and foremost, on November 1, we will honor All Saints Sunday inviting those who have lost a loved one this year to return. Guidelines for this service have been set and they are:
· Families will sit together as a family unit, a minimum of 6’ distance between families
· A maximum of 30-35 attendees (25% capacity) will be allowed in the Sanctuary
· There will be no congregational singing (you may hum-along if you desire)
· There will be no passing of the peace inside the building
· All attendees must wear a mask
· There will be no hymnals or papers in the pews only bulletins prepared for use during service. Attendees will be asked to take bulletins home with them to reduce germ spread
· An air handler/certified COVID-19 air cleaner has been installed on the Church’s furnace/AC, and filters are changed monthly
· Sexton, Steve Brown will use a “misting system” to disinfect the Sanctuary with a food safe, approved COVID-19 product, effective up to 72 hours
· In addition, the church has received four hand-sanitizing stations which are placed at entry ways and by restrooms
· An usher will be present to direct people to seats and ensure safe social-distancing
After we hold this first gathering on November 1, we will then ask one family at a time, depending on their schedules, who have been awaiting to come to join the church each of the next three Sundays, evaluating as we go.
At the next Consistory meeting, November 17, we will review how these “trial runs” have gone and determine the best way to consider moving forward from here and what we may or may not be able to do for Advent and Christmas.
I would ask for all your prayers as we attempt to restart worship attendance and prayerfully consider our way forward plan.
Should you have questions or concerns, you may reach out to a member of your Consistory, Pastor Tim or contact the church office.
Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding. Together we will make it home safely.