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Let it snow...


December 16, 2020 “What happens here, doesn’t stay here…”

Dear Church Family,


The winter of 1993-1994 was my last winter to live in West Virginia. That year we ended up having three snowfalls of more than 24”. I loved it! It was unusual that we would get that much snow, especially in the valley, yet when a storm got into the valley it would tend to dump a lot of snow. At the time, my best friend and coworker lived about a dozen blocks from my parent’s house. She and her fiancé had just welcomed their first child when one of those storms hit. Most of the area lost power, with the exception of my parent’s neighborhood, during the late March storm. My friend, her fiancé and newborn baby were among those without power. I, too, had lost power at my apartment, so we all headed to my parents and we all hunkered down there. I remember this time so vividly because my mom pulled out the large deep dresser drawer from my bedroom and filled it with blankets so it could become a crib for the newborn baby. I can still close my eyes and see that scene. Of course, he’s now soon to be 27 years old and is over 6’ tall. My parents taught me you do what you need to do to help others. Every time we get a big snow (which unfortunately isn’t that often), I think of that story.


With that story in mind, I began to think about how we as a faith community all do what we need to do to help one another. I read a story last night of one parent who knew what it was like to be a single parent with a seriously ill child in the hospital, and she reached out to another parent caring for a child in the hospital to assure them they were not alone. During these times of COVID-19, only one parent may be with a child at a time, leaving many to feel like they are single parents. As the single mother said, I know what it’s like and it can be awfully lonely being the only parent in there. The parents didn’t know each other before, but that was what this single mom - who has been through so much with her own daughter did - naturally. She cared for others. She was doing what she was doing out of care for others, out of what she knew and felt.


Another person in our faith community came to me yesterday sharing that they always had so much food for the holidays and couldn’t really have the people over they normally would, so “would it be ok if we dropped meals off to some who are alone this year on Christmas Day?”


When Fresh Express was occurring on our newly-designated second food distribution day of the month, the team got together to talk about what options would work to change the day so our neighbors could still receive the food they needed and they came up with a plan. One member of the team called every recipient personally to ensure they could get the much-needed food. We do what we need to do.


A friend posted the story of Judas this morning and the fact that Jesus knew what Judas was about to do and yet he still washed Judas’ feet and shared a meal with him. There was no caveat: “Oh, you have to prove you are ok before I serve you.” There was no prequalification to receive hospitality or grace, there were no disqualifiers. You just offered it. You just open up your heart and offer whatever you can. Do what you can do. Offer what you can offer.


In this season, that feeling seems to come more naturally than in other times of the year, yet the stories I have thought of, none of them are about the time of year, yet they are about the meaning of this time of year. Christ ‘broke in’ in the midst of what everyday life was like and grew to show us how we were to express and experience our own living, every day. Open our homes, open our hearts, show great amounts of grace, care and concern for others, that’s called being the church, ecclesia, open to all (no disqualifiers in this age).


There are no disqualifiers for grace and hospitality, there are no caveats to care and concern for others, there is no time or space for exceptions or what ifs to Jesus’ teaching, there is hospitality and grace. It’s what we are called to do, it’s who we are called to be.


Thank you, thank you to this community of faith and the broader community around us for continuing to live into that lesson. May we never forget, long after this season is past, after the pandemic fades to memory, may our love and care and concern for one another continue to grow and flourish.


Peace be with you.


Blessings,

Pastor Tim



In our daily prayers…


You are invited to join your faith family in prayer as we lift up:


· Dale Franquet, who is now home recovering, the nephew of Fred Fisher;

· Susan Overdorf and her family as they mourn the loss of Helen Hopple;

· Eric Powell, continuing at home under the care of Hospice;

· Georgie Ritter, with continued surgeries;

· Greyson Greenawalt, the youngest dialysis patient ever for GMC Danville;

· his great uncle Fred Greenawalt and all the residents of Watsontown Nursing and Rehabilitation Center;

· Joy Bennett recovering from a broken hip and stroke;

· Many families awaiting test results;

· the family of Doug Baumwall;

· Katy Mahon, awaiting determination of healthcare professionals about her kidney;

· Mina Hoover and her family as Mina, 5, awaits surgery at GMC Danville;

· and prayers of Thanksgiving for Clarence Snider returning home today.

· Our prayers are with each individual and family in which we have been made aware of as well as all the unspoken requests on our hearts.


We invite you to join us in prayer for all these as well as take a moment to pray for all our health-care workers and front-line workers. As the season of Advent calls us to actively wait, we pray.


Advent from home…


This coming week we will light our fourth and final Advent Candle. Christmas is getting close. The time, in ways seems to fly by, yet in other ways as we await the celebration of Jesus’ birth, the “breaking in” of hope, peace, joy and love seems like days on end we wait. You are invited to join us, and I hope you will invite others to join us as well, as we consider this week that Jesus was born for such a time as this for “Love” to break in to our world. Let us together light a candle for, say a prayer for, and actively await the Love that breaks in on Christmas! #seeu@church 10:30 a.m. Sunday via LIVE Stream.



Poinsettias


Thank you for all the poinsettia orders! Wow! We have 48 poinsettias to be placed in our sanctuary, what a beautiful way to celebrate the season in love, celebration, and memory of others.


Lights, Camera, Action: “Do Not Be Afraid” to hit the airwaves!


Actors and Actresses abound among us it seems. This year’s Christmas Pageant seems to have a record number of thespians and singers! Colleen, Russ and all the cast and crew are excited to share with you “Do Not Be Afraid” which will air as a part of our LIVE broadcast Christmas eve service at 4:30 p.m., Thursday. We are excited to see and hear all the talent this great team has to offer as they share with us a great telling of the Christmas story in a way unlike any we’ve experienced before!


What to do on the longest night of the year?


Since we won’t get to gather together for our Blue Christmas service this year, we are seeking ways to brighten one another’s dark days with warmth and light. Between now and Friday, December 18, I want to invite you to share pictures or videos of your Christmas decorations, lights, and include a greeting if you want. You may take pictures or videos and send them to me at pastortim@spuccwm.org or post them to Saint Paul’s Prayers and Love Page, and we will attempt our hand at video editing to get out a video greeting from your church family on December 21, the longest night. Be creative, have fun, and help us brighten one another’s day (or night).


Technology upgrade coming…


We currently broadcast all Sunday services with one camera (a 2010 vintage model), one person (significantly older than the 2010 era camera) running sound and video, and stream across two platforms (Facebook and YouTube) with a viewership approaching 1,000 homes/people each week. While our talented technical crew does a great job making everything work, we are beginning to see the effects of age on our systems.


With that in mind, we brought in a local professional to assist us in upgrading the system to prevent any disruption to our Sunday LIVE worship. The cost of a new camera is $2,900 and the cost of other equipment needed to make it all work is $600 – a total of $3,500. We recently received a UCC grant of $1,500 which reduces our out-of-pocket cost to $2,000. If you would be willing to contribute to this improvement in our technology, you may do so by writing a check to the church marked “Technology” in the memo line. Thank you in advance for your consideration during this Holiday Season.


Online giving made easy…


Online giving is available for weekly tithes and offerings, to purchase coffee, pay for flowers, make a memorial donation or yes even give to a church project, like new technology. Please contact us for more information or go directly to our website and click the “give button at the top of the page to learn more.

Coffee, Tea, or Chocolate…(what did you expect?)


Here’s a great Christmas Gift idea for coffee or tea drinkers and chocolate lovers…brought to you by Saint Paul’s Coffee Club… We are taking orders for Fair-Trade Equal Exchange products. All proceeds benefit our Saint Paul’s Mission Fund while all Fair-Trade purchases go to benefit independent farmers. The order form is now online at this link: https://forms.gle/ipP6hADymMd1kSTC6. When you submit and order, we will notify you of a pick-up date and time as we are following safe distancing practices and complying with all state and local regulations. Orders may also be placed by calling the church office.


Products are: Mind, Body and Soul Ground Coffee, Regular, 12 ounce, $10 per bag; Colombian Whole Bean Coffee, Regular, 12 ounce, $10 per bag; Decaf, Ground, 12 ounce, $10 per bag; Decaf, Whole Bean, 12 ounce, $10 per bag; Fellowship Blend, Regular, 16 ounce, $12 per bag; Fellowship Blend, Decaf, 16 ounce, $12 per bag; French Roast K-Cups, Regular, 12 pods per box, $10 per box; Unwind K-Cups, Decaf, 12 pods per box, $10 per box; Black Tea, 20 bags per box $5 per box; Decaf English Breakfast Tea, 20 bags per box, $5 per box; Very Dark Chocolate (71%), $4 per bar; Milk Chocolate (43%), $4 per bar.


Our FM Transmitter is coming on-line


WUCC Saint Paul’s Radio


Beginning Sunday, December 20, at 10:30 a.m., barring any issues with the weather, we will be offering a new opportunity to listen to the service. You may come and sit in the parking lot and listen to the service via an FM station on your car radio. While some may ask why? It’s another option for those who are not online and would like to hear the service. We hope to have an “usher” available to bring you your bulletin and possibly collect your offering if you would like to give in that manner. Watch this space for news and further directions to be announced.


2021 is on the way…


While we already know 2021 will begin a little, ok a lot, differently than in years past, we also know we can’t and hopefully won’t ever stop, being the church! There are neighbors to help, there is music to be made (and practiced), there are journey’s to be traveled, and as we enter 2021, may we always remember we do it all together as one big faith family, there is something for everyone! So, as we begin thinking of ways we can once again be together and be the church in old and new ways alike, I wanted to begin to share a few options for 2021 with you…


Home Brew Wednesdays… Coming Wednesday, January 12, and beginning each Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., grab your favorite beverage and join us via Zoom! We will gather for our theological book discussion, share a few laughs, pray together and all from the comfort of your home. Add us to your Wednesday evening calendar! What a great way to spend the winter weeks together! The new book will be announced next week, so you may prepare.



“Take Me Home Country Roads” to a place where we are planning our 2021 Summer Mission Trip! We will depart, Sunday, June 6, following worship and return Saturday, June 12. We will spend a week in the mountains and hills around Pipestem, West Virginia, helping with our neighbors there. We will be staying in cabins, possibly have our own chef along for some great food, if history repeats. We will be offered several cultural adventures around the area after each day’s work.


We are excited to be able to offer this great opportunity for our church family! Stay tuned to learn more about this adventure. We will hold a virtual meeting in early January to discuss the details. Schedule your vacation time now and plan to join us June 6 to June 12, 2021! There will be something to do for everyone! Oh, and we have some great experienced Mission Trip leaders going with us too!


This week @ Saint Paul’s:


Wed., Dec. 16 Happy Birthday Broghan Gill

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Church office open

Thur. Dec. 17 Happy Birthday Chris Wolfe

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Church office open


Fri., Dec. 18 Happy Anniversary Dave and Barb Wagner

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Church office open


Sat., Dec. 19 Happy Anniversary Doug and Cyndy Kister


Sun., Dec. 20 Happy Birthday Lillie Franciscus

Happy Birthday Renee Purcell

9:15 a.m. Adult Sunday School

10:30 a.m. Worship LIVE (https://tinyurl.com/ran9suv ) / or

YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/feed/my_videos)


Mon., Dec. 21 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Church Office open

10:30 a.m. Monday Morning Preacher Bible Study

6 p.m. Consistory Meeting


Tue., Dec. 22 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Church office open


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 (Beginning again, January 12)

· 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)

· Painting, Cleaning and Organizing at the Church

· Pantry Remodeling at the church

· Equal Exchange Coffee Sale

· CARE team Goodies and Meals

Reach out to learn more about these and many other opportunities at the church!



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Saint Paul's United Church of Christ | 433 High Street, West Milton, PA 17886
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