No Amount of Darkness...
Updated: Oct 29
October 28, 2020 “What happens here, doesn’t stay here…”
Dear Church Family,
There has been a theme of “be not afraid” running through my mind this week. I am deeply saddened by events going on around us. By friends who cling to untruths of fringe media and don’t realize the ramifications of their “hopes and dreams” on other’s lives. I am deeply troubled when I think of the consequences of actions some are reveling in that, seem to me, to be so contrary to Christ’s teachings. Love one another, care for one another, feed the hungry, care for the poor and suffering, stand up for justice for all, put self-interests on the back burner, yet I hear and see the cheers and the mean-spirited things people are saying and doing as evil - cloaked in misleading words - and hiding behind self-created images of a god. I am sad at times, for sure.
However, I think back through darker days in our history and I know that darkness and sadness fade away. They always have. Will they again? I know that candles are lit in the darkness, not in light, and I understand nothing may be darker than Jesus’ darkest day when the temple curtains were torn and the sky turned black. Yet, what became of that day? There was and is and will forever be a promise of something more, something new and reforming, a resurrection of hope. Be not afraid.
It was late this Summer when I was reminded of the first time I saw a Resurrection Lily. A Resurrection Lily is a flower that starts out usually with lush green vegetation. The vegetation then dies back to the ground and out of that seemingly dead vegetation shoots up a stalk and on top of the stock flowers - bright, trumpet-like flowers. We had pulled up in front of a house just outside of Iowa City, Iowa, in late Summer 2008, months after the “century flood” that pushed the mighty Mississippi over its banks. The entire area was abandoned after flood waters stood in houses for over 30 days with slowly receding flood waters some months earlier and we were there to finally start the clean-up process. The yard had grass two plus foot high and right in front of the house. Jutting up above the tall grass and standing tall was a beautiful Resurrection Lily. After the flood and devastation, after lush green vegetation died back, a sign of hope. Be not afraid.
Times like that remind me, be not afraid when life seems dark and the world around us seems in despair. Be not afraid when evil knocks on the door of life and justice and freedom for all God’s children seems to be hanging in the balance. Be not afraid when darkness seems to overwhelm you for that is just when you are called to light a candle of hope. Christ’s hope isn’t in the evil, for nothing that attempts to separate us from loving one another, nothing that attempts to legislate our care for others, nothing that calls love wrong is of Christ. This is my belief, and no one can take that away.
It feels a little “Pollyanna” to face some of the things going on in the world and continue to preach the Gospel of “be not afraid.” However, as we spoke this week in Bible Study, Paul was very human and made many mistakes, yet his hope persevered. When he died, he left behind a lot of burning candles, a hope that the darkness can never overcome. In this I am reminded that in days that seem dark and dreary, we are not called to run away. We are not called to lash out in anger. We are called to cling to our faith in Christ, lighting candles of hope in the hopelessness by showing love and grace in a world that feels lost and afraid.
So, I invite my friends and extended family and my church family, to not boast of perceived victories, don’t fight with one another over who’s image of God is right and who’s is wrong. Instead, seek to live the lessons God who sent his son to teach us all. It is and will forever be the only true hope, love. Love God and love one another and if your words aren’t words of love, then ask yourself, who’s image are you portraying?
For the only way I may be not afraid, is to love. Will you join me?
I invite you to listen and meditate with me on this hymn of hope “Be Not Afraid” as recorded in May of this year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RF0DIpFOoBg
In our daily prayers…
Please keep in your prayers this day: The Arnold family as Chris is deployed today in a peace-keeping mission. Please also keep Fred Greenawalt and family in your prayers as Fred’s health continues to decline. We give thanks for and lift prayers of thanksgiving for the Sample Family as Mal, Brent and big brother Rhett welcome Delilah. We give thanks for Jo Beatty’s return home and continue to remember Amy Snider as she prepares for shoulder surgery next week. We give thanks for Rev. Kay Korpics as she passed her final step in the Board Certification process as Chaplain. I ask for prayers for my mother as she faces medical testing next week and I ask you to join me in prayer for our church and church family as we all continue to face our own fears and search for hope in these days. Finally, I ask for prayers for all the families which will be celebrating lives of ones gone before them this Sunday. In remembrance may we find hope.
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.
Hope Rings Out…
It was a year ago next week, that our faithful saint, Joe Korizno died. Joe loved his church. For much of their married life, Joe and Pat lived on the corner in the big yellow house one block from here. For all those years, Joe and family could always hear the church Carillon and Joe knew it was his church’s bells calling out, a stalwart beacon of hope in the community.
In 2018, with the electronic Carillon nearing its 50th year, the system stopped working and became unrepairable. Most of the tapes for the tape drive had become stretched and unusable and the tube driven mechanics were out of repair. The bells from our West Milton church fell silent.
Upon Joe’s death, the Korizno Family began a conversation with Pastor Tim about something to be purchased by the church in memory of Joe. After researching the costs of a new Carillon and discussing what it meant to Joe, the decision was made to embark on a new Carillon for the church and community. Once the church was close in funds needed for the chosen replacement, we learned the original Carillon vendor had closed during the pandemic. So, we began exploring and working with another company, owner of our original bell system. The company worked with the church for a substantial discount, however - even with the discount - the new system was almost twice what raised funds had been. The Consistory discussed it and made the determination to designate the additional Memorial Funds from saints gone before us over the past two years – including Dick Weaver, Ruth Miller, Sissy Rowe, Liz Noll, George Zeyn, Jr., and a recent gift in memory of Amy Rearick’s husband Scott, as well as gifts in celebration of Myrtle Hogan on the occasion of her 90th birthday. These gifts, along with an additional donation in Joe’s memory, helped the church meet its goal.
A new Carillon was purchased and once again, beginning on All Saints Sunday, the church bells will once again ring-out in this community! The new system will ring a Westminster quarter hour, hourly and hymns will ring out during the day. Our hope and prayer is that these bells will forever be one way we, Saint Paul’s UCC West Milton lights a “candle” of hope in the community.
So, to all those who have contributed to the memories of these dear saints, know that hope rings out across this community in memorial and celebration to the saints gone before us and the saints beside us now.
DEADLINE APPROACHING! 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.
If I could turn back time…
Cher couldn’t but we will! We will turn back the clocks this coming Sunday, November 1, at 2 a.m. when Daylight Savings Time ends. Don’t forget to turn back time!
Take a Hike…and we did!
15 saints took a hike out Dale’s Ridge on Sunday afternoon. It was a great day for a hike and the sights and sounds were beautiful! This is the church’s second family hike and who knows after a Summer Hike, a Fall Hike maybe a Winter Hike will be a possibility. We shall see. It was just a nice way to spend some safe time together!
The gift to give…
After hearing the phrase during my first internship, “Ours is the gift to give”, I have always been in awe of how generous people are with their time, talents and gifts. This past Thursday, we saw near record numbers of families coming for food at our regular distribution. With nine new families showing up, we found ourselves out of what the Central PA Food Bank supplied this time. We quickly and thankfully fell back on our emergency food pantry, supplied by gifts you have given. We had just enough proteins (chicken, pork, beef and fish) in the freezer to meet the needs of all who showed up to be served. We served 109 families in total last Thursday. Your gifts continue to help us be the church, to feed the hungry to serve our neighbors, to be in community. Thank you, never seems enough, however there is no better words to describe the gratefulness of our neighbors. To make a specific donation to the pantry, you may drop off non-perishable food items, frozen food items, or make a donation marked for “missions” and needed items will be purchased for the pantry.
A list of those needed items includes: Cereal, Sweet Potatoes, Soups, Green Beans, Corn, Carrots, Peanut Butter, Ketchup, Mustard, Spaghetti Sauce, Tuna, Dish Sop, Shampoo, Knorr Packets, Canned Chicken, Mac & Cheese, Elbow Macaroni, and frozen proteins such as Fish, Chicken, Beef or Pork.
Saint Paul’s second floor of our Education Building is under construction with some rehab projects. The walls in three of the four Sunday School rooms have been patched, are being painted and tomorrow, Thursday, the floors in all four rooms will be refinished! After Consistory’s review of bids and approval of funds for floor refinishing in the four Sunday School rooms, 15 volunteers got together and began repairing and painting walls. The volunteers signed up and masked up to keep within safe limits of people working at one time. Watch for pictures next week as we continue to make improvements to the 90-year-old Education Building, the first improvements in nearly 50 years.
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.
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!
Returning to Worship…Coming Home:
As I met with other pastors this week, the topic, how we hold worship, took center stage in our discussion, as it has for some time now. The consensus was to proceed with caution, ensuring everyone stays safe and we can continue to offer worship in the safest, best way we know how. We wrestled with questions such as what to do when some refuse to wear masks, or stay a safe distance apart and some just plain forget. The agreement was, in order to keep everyone safe and continue to hold worship, we must follow the guidelines set forth or otherwise go back to virtual worship only.
I shared that here, at Saint Paul’s, we are beginning to take steps to return to Worship in small ways. First and foremost, this Sunday, 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% attendance) 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 regularly
· 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 six 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.
Our Way Forward Team will meet next week to discuss how our re-entry plans are going and what recommendations they would like to make to Consistory for the November meeting. 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. It is imperative that everyone who does come to worship follow the plans set forth by the team in order for us to continue to be able to consider reopening our church.
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.