Grace for whom?
August 6, 2020
Dear Church Family,
I begin today with a text shared by another UCC Pastor in which I, myself, found well.... read it first and I’ll speak to it in my mind.
"You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does... In a word, what I’m saying is, grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
(Matthew 5:43-44, 48, The Message)
It seems Pastor Deb, when she wrote her devotion, was feeling something I feel and I believe most of us feel these days. We all need a measure of “extra grace.” She continued that she was being asked to offer extra grace to angry, stressed out and anxious people, even more than usual lately. And I agreed with her that also includes ourselves. Jesus knew what it meant to deal with difficult people, and he knew his followers would know what it meant to deal with difficult people and difficult situations. I too believe this is why Jesus offered these words from Matthew for us all then and now. Each day I hope too that others may hold generous assumptions of me and I may hold generous assumptions of them, all filled with extra measures of grace. We know these are difficult days and most all of us are trying to do the best we know how to do – even though we don’t necessarily understand. I mean think about it, there continues to be isolation, fear, financial stress, and we are bombarded with negative news continually. It can’t help but have an effect on us. I figure that I need to be reminded myself, that when I listen to or read the latest news reports or when I find myself judging other people’s behaviors around whatever they are facing that day, be it about the pandemic, denial thereof, or just a bad or stressed out day, that grace needs to prevail. Deb also reminded us that it’s normal to hold opinions of others, however it is when those opinions devolve into viewing others with contempt that I have become less than my God-created self. I have to be aware and fight that urge to keep from scorn as I view others who do not see the world as I do. There was a quote at the end of the article from the great Quaker leader, George Fox: “Walk joyfully on the earth and respond to that of God in every human being.” Wait what? Respond to the joyful of God in every human being, but, wait, how? How can we do that? While I agree this is what we are called to do, the way we are called to act, the way God created us to be, it’s a way of peace, but again how? I believe too it takes a LOT of spiritual practice, commitment and more practice to see the light of God in everyone around us. In fact I often say, look for God in everyone you meet, however sometimes that’s tough and it’s tough for others to see God in us. However, isn’t this the exact advice we need on days when we are dealing with difficult people in our lives or when we are being those difficult people? Just some thoughts and questions to ponder today and my friend certainly makes me ponder, a lot. May your day and week ahead be filled with assumptions of God’s grace and love and peace in all you meet and well in yourself, too.
In our daily prayers…
Today we ask for prayers for family members Jen and Louise as Louise is having a medical procedure this day. Additionally, we ask for prayers for Paula who is facing multiple forms of cancer in her body and has asked for us to lift her in prayer. We remember the joys for Linda Beaver and lift her in prayers. We think of the many being impacted in so many ways by Covid-19 medically, emotionally, financially. So, I ask you to join me in your daily prayers for known and unknown requests, the requests I carry with me silently as we all do. Let us pray…
Announcements, announcements, announcements…
Saturday, August 15: A Family fun event hosted at the Gill’s. Swimming and a family friendly movie too! Bring your trunks, come for a homemade ice-cream bar and movie. All outdoors. Social distancing and mask wearing will be requested as well as your own bug spray, just in case.
Monday Morning Preacher, 10:30 a.m. each Monday. We gather via Zoom and all are welcome to this Monday morning Bible Study. Dial in: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5705681433
Midweek Musings and Theology, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, continues through the Summer. “Anxious to Talk About It: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully about Racism”. Please contact the church office to get a book and learn more. We begin with Chapter 1 this evening.
Family Intergenerational VBS – Stay tuned for upcoming news about our next intergenerational VBS is scheduled for August 23 @ Milton State Park. Plan now to attend this fun-filled event!
Last call for coin boxes! This is the last call for the One Great Hour of Sharing Coin boxes. The boxes were picked up and sent home during the first week of Lent, way back in early March and were due back the first week of April. As a result of the suspension of in-person gatherings, we have not had a formal gathering time to collect them. Some have been dropped off at the church, and IF you still have yours and have not been able to return it to us yet and would like to…please call the church office and let Geri know at (570) 568-1433. We’ll arrange for someone can pick them up or you are welcome to drop them off during regular business hours. 100 percent of all donations go to help One Great Hour of Sharing®, one of four special mission offerings of the United Church of Christ. This Lenten Offering supports the disaster, refugee and development ministries of the UCC.
What’s your sign? Saint Paul’s Yard Signs are here! Yard signs are available at the church during office hours. Help us spread the word “Welcome home to…Saint Paul’s…Welcoming Saints and Sinners since 1900” (and they include our web address).
New Office Hours: Our new office hours will be: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursdays and closed on Fridays. Our goal is to meet the needs of the faith community and be as accessible as possible while practicing good self-care as well.
New Office Hours: Our new office hours will be: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursdays, closed on Fridays. Our goal is to meet the needs of the faith community and be as accessible as possible while practicing good self-care, too.
Pastor Tim’s office hours include both virtual (Monday & Wednesday) and in-person office hours (Tuesdays & Thursdays) with time off Wednesday afternoon and Friday. You may contact Pastor Tim through the church office at (570) 568-1433. Should you call after hours or when the church office is closed, leaving a message at the church will automatically notify either Geri or Pastor Tim and they will respond appropriately. In emergency situations, you may call Pastor Tim’s cell phone directly at (570) 975-9536.
Please note: Following approved Church guidelines, established by the Consistory, we ask that if you are coming to the church, you sign-in and wear a mask, your temperature will also be taken.
Saint Paul’s is now coming to you LIVE from 2 platforms… See the next page for the full story.
Ways to connect to worship:
We've heard your feedback and while we love having everyone join us on Facebook LIVE for our Sunday morning worship, we know another option is important. We are pleased to announce that this Sunday, you can watch us LIVE on Facebook or on YouTube. We are now broadcasting live to both platforms Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. Aren't sure how to subscribe and get connected on YouTube? Contact the church office for details.
Not been on YouTube or not a subscriber? While you don’t have to subscribe to watch via YouTube, you can if you’d like. The more subscribers the church has the better opportunity we have to reach out.
Here’s what to do:
1. Go to the church website www.spuccwm.org.
2. Click on the YouTube “Come join us live.”
3. If you are watching us via YouTube and you are willing or want to subscribe to our “channel” click on the “Subscribe” button below the video.
4. If you have questions, email: firstname.lastname@example.org and Geri will get the question to the right person to help.
For questions or suggestions as to how we can better serve you, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We are continually trying to improve our online offerings and appreciate, very much your support and help.
May grace, hope, peace and love abound.