July 22, 2020
Dear Church Family,
This just in: “We have a future!” The prophet Jeremiah in the Hebrew Testament reminds the few remaining exiles who are from Jerusalem and living in Babylon, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for peace not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.” The exiles had gone through much up until this point, they had lost about everything except for a few family around them, and then they receive this letter with these words of encouragement to the elders of the group. The prophets are proclaiming this is what you can expect, God has a plan for you and it is a good plan.
I wonder sometimes if we are waiting on an official letter. Are we searching our news feed and our social media pages and grabbing for every bit of encouragement or support for our way of thinking we can find? Are we concentrating on the socio-political leanings of our neighbors more than we are on the needs of our neighbors? Are we out having to tell people our thoughts so they know where we stand or are we doing something which helps us live in to the fact that Jesus calls us to connect with God’s plans that have already been placed within us?
“For I know the plans I have for you…” The Jeremiah text goes on to reveal some of how they are to help bring these plans in to fruition. Settle down where you are, build homes, raise a garden, start to raise families, be community right where you are. Now before any of you think this is a letter to the Jewish people of that day, we are settled, in our homes and have communities, in fact we have many freedoms. Yes, I would agree, however the message is still the same, that God has plans for us all, we have a future. Whether you are 90 or newborn this day, I believe something has been placed inside of you that God still has plans for you to use until your last breath on this earth. The plans of peace and hope.
Ok, so I have been very good about not mentioning that this is July, the time those of us are sort of Christmas centric get to have a little bit of mid-year acknowledgement of our favorite time of the year. However, I thought of our Advent Wreath as I was writing this devotion and want to say to you this. As we light our Advent Wreath each year, we do so in preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. We light a candle for Peace, Hope, Love and Joy. We light them as a reminder that this is what we believe, our faith belief tells us that God is sending into the world in the form of God’s Son. Christ is coming as a reminder we have each of these things within us. Peace and Hope are already here, they reside in us, we have a future!
Sometimes, in the midst of all that is happening, hope may seem far off and peace, elusive at best, yet it is promised and of all the promises by all the people in our lives, this is the promise that I, Pastor Tim, believes will never fail. Settle down, roll up your sleeves and together let’s be the community that lives into the hope and peace that God promised, that Christ taught, and that we were created for. Let’s live in a way that others want to know and connect with the peace within them. Let’s live into God’s presence from within us. We have a future!
Wil you join me?
In our daily prayers…
Special requests this week begin with our First Responders and Essential Workers. They begin with them because I was reminded this week on a few occasions of how hard these jobs are, even in our community. As volunteer firefighters responded to a house fire where and mother and child were lost, as I heard and read stories of caregivers trying so hard to do what they are called to do, caring for and helping others to heal and for all those in our education systems, trying to figure out how best to proceed with the education of our children in this time. Additionally, I would invite you to log on to our website and click on the prayer list from our homepage or take your bulletin in hand and pray for each person by name listed there. Would you join me in daily prayer for our faith community, for those whose names and situations have been lifted aloud and those whom are held on our hearts in silence?
Happy Happy Days to…
July 26 marks birthdays for Al Henry and Michael Haven
July 26 also marks a wedding anniversary for Brent & Mallory Sample
July 28 marks a birthday for Bryliegh Gill and Jeff Noll
July 29 marks a birthday for Carol Engle and Floyd Merritt
Let us give thanks to God for these special occasions and gifts each are to us all.
Announcements, announcements, announcements…
What’s your sign? No, it’s not a pick up line from the 70’s, it’s a question for you. Saint Paul’s Yard Signs are here! We did a somewhat soft introduction with them to just a few homes and the response already is great. Neighbors are asking neighbors, “Do you go to Saint Paul’s?” “Is that your church?” The signs are designed to be conversation starters and intrigue people to maybe check out our church. Yard signs are available at the church during office hours 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday or 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday. Help us spread the word “Welcome home to…Saint Paul’s…Welcoming Saints and Sinners since 1900” (and they include our web address).
Our tech team is working diligently to upgrade our options for viewing Sunday’s services. They are working on upgrades to sound, additional viewing options and production support. Watch for news coming soon as we strengthen our physical outreach presence. In the meantime, if you would, please go to www.youtube.com and search Saint Paul’s UCC West Milton or click this link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx534qz98pw4lEcpsJznLnw and subscribe to our you tube channel. Help us spread the word.
Change the World coin boxes. Remember those? The boxes you received back at the start of Lent, for “Change the World”. We distributed them when we were still meeting in person and had planned to collect them on Paul Sunday…well... we kept delaying collecting them due to our circumstances of not gathering in person. However, if possible, we would like to begin gathering those. If you would like to drop them off during normal church hours you may or if you would like to have them picked up, I am betting we can arrange that as well. Please contact the church office to make arrangements if this is the option you wish (570) 568-1433.
Our Summer Family Hike took place last Sunday with a small group. Understandably, the heat was not our friend and the week prior the weather was not our friend, however we got it in this past week and the group that attended had a great time, so much so we are turning this opportunity in to a Fall event as well. So watch for news of an upcoming Fall Family Hike through Dale’s Ridge. Our guides - Geoff Goodenow and Kathy Rowe - did a great job and made the hike so informative and interesting. A big shout and thanks to them and the Linn Conservancy for all they do to keep us connected with nature and our area history! You can find pics from the hike on our church Facebook page as well.
This evening at 6:30 p.m. we will formally begin our new book study, “Anxious to Talk About It: Talking Faithfully about Racism.” We will gather via Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5705681433 All are invited to this safe space to join us in respectful and meaningful conversation.
Tomorrow is Fresh Express Thursday, 2 to 5:30 p.m. Volunteers are welcome, prayers are appreciated as we continue to serve the community and meet God face to face.
Sunday, July 26, is the date of our next Intergenerational Family Vacation Bible School. We will head back to Milton State Park and gather at 6:30 p.m. The theme for this coming event is our connection through water. So be prepared for a fun evening of learning and fellowship. Bring your lawn chair, bug spray and come join in on the fun!
Looking ahead…our next Summer Family Fun Gathering will be a swim-up outdoor movie. Watch for details. This event is now being planned for Saturday, August 15!
In 1897, Adolph S. Ochs, the owner of The New York Times, created the famous slogan "All the News That's Fit to Print." So, for now, I’m not sure that this is all that’s fit to print, however it’s a snapshot this day in our own: Saints & Sinners eNews July 22, 2020 edition. Have a great week and we hope to see you as you are able in worship, in service, in study or in the community.
May peace and hope abound.