Science wasn't lost on me...
September 30, 2020 “What happens here, doesn’t stay here…”
Dear Church Family,
Recently, I’ve been recalling Mr. Himes, my 7th grade science teacher, and his teaching us about surface tension. At least, that is when I believe I first learned about the phenomenon of the surface tension of water. I remember him showing us how to fill a glass of water to almost overflowing and see how the water could rise above the glass without spilling over. Or, how you could place items which would normally sink on top of the water and the surface tension would support them. Nothing crazy, I remember things like a paper clip, for example. The more impurities in the water, the more the molecules could hold together, creating more surface tension.
Lately, it feels like there is a lot of surface tension going on in the world around us. Political fighting, racial injustice, environmental destruction and a greater social division feels like it’s underway. All these things are creating great - what I believe is - surface tension. So much disinformation, so much desire for power, so much about being right, so much anti anything different saying anything divisive trying to create sides or stories that can be spread or said and what is really being created is: great “surface tension.”
This week, two people stopped me to share all they had read about the political candidate of their choice on social media. They both said they couldn’t believe all the stuff they were seeing about what the other candidate is saying about or doing to “my candidate.” Whichever candidate each person supported, their social media “feed” was full of supporting “data” and stories. The two people who were telling me this were also telling me they supported opposite candidates. Their social media feeds were full of supporting documentation for their side of the story. Pushing mis-information, opposing views and falsehoods creates tension and distracts us form being in right relationship with one another.
Chip and I had that experience this week with social media, his news feed was full of one thing and mine, another, because we pay attention to and like different things. He looks at classic cars and convertibles, whereas I tend to look at sites like Mindful Christianity and church music posts. Now neither of those feed tension in our home. They are not divisive issues for us. However, throw in a political belief and watch your news feed “light-up” with supporting articles for your candidate or issue, and damning information about the other candidate or opposing issue and you’ve got instant “surface tension.” Just the thing required to keep you from exploring the depth of the meaning and understanding of others. The thing that keeps you from being in relationship with those who believe differently than you do, and surface tension has been created. And we immediately don’t go any further.
Right now, in our lectionary texts from the Gospel of Matthew, we are headed to the cross and crucifixion with Jesus. The tension is growing. Jesus’ accusers are attempting to create distractions from the work Jesus is doing and the relationships Jesus is building. They and their power seemed threatened and are attempting to create division and distraction all in the name of their “belief.” Jesus breaks through the tension, saying to the chief priests, “crooks and prostitutes will enter the kingdom of heaven before you” (Matt. 21:31-32) as they attempt to twist facts and create what I’ll call “surface tension” to keep people from getting to know Jesus. The chief priests and pharisees remind me of social media, creating “surface tension” to avoid acknowledging the work Christ is doing, the deep and meaningful relationships Christ is creating. If we throw enough proverbial mud in the water, no one can see what is really happening, no one can hear the good news, we can keep all the attention on the surface.
Life gets like that at times. Someone trying to do anything and everything to distract us, to keep us from being in right relationship, from following Jesus’ teachings to lay our burdens at His feet so we can follow Christ’s teachings into a place of deep and lasting relationship. It happens in all aspects of life, from politics to church to life in general.
My prayer for us all in this season is that we break through the “surface tension” being created around us - whether political, racial, theological, ideological, coronavirus-related, whatever it is. Break through it in a way to enter into a real relationship with one another, in kindness, in grace, in mercy and in love. Let us say move beyond the “surface tension” of division and speak fluently about the common threads of a God-connection full of mercy, love and grace. Let us be rooted well below the surface of disinformation and the need to “be right” to the depths of great relationships one with another in which the Holy Spirit leads us into.
And in the words of Paul, from his letter to the church of Ephesus 3:17-18, I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power...to grasp...the love of Christ. Dig deeper family, dig deeper to that place of love and grace.
May it be so.
Amen, Pastor Tim
In our daily prayers…
Please continue to keep Rev. Kay Korpics in your prayers as she remains in quarantine following a positive test and continued symptoms of COVID-19; Add Jennifer VanHorn to our prayer list as she enters a time of waiting for medical test results as Louise heads back to work following her illness and recovery. Let us continue to remember Ray Leeser in long-term rehab at Buffalo Valley Rehabilitation Center. We give thanks for Tom Lanks being home from Geisinger and we hold Tom and Priscilla close in our prayer as he recovers. We continue to lift Donna Zook, friend of Dottie and John Bird, in our prayers who is suffering from multiple types of cancer. We also ask that you continue to remember Harry and Carolyn Wuerdeman. Harry came home, recuperating from surgery yesterday and Carolyn will have knee surgery next Monday. We also remember Tanner, an infant healing from heart surgery yesterday. Lord in your mercy, hear all our prayers we pray, those spoken and unspoken, fill our hearts with peace and love through deep concern for one another. Amen.
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.
Sunday, October 4, 2020: Rev. Dr. Carrie Call will be preaching at Saint Paul’s for our LIVE stream service as Saint Paul’s UCC celebrates its 120th Birthday. Then…hop in the car and drive by the church for a special “Birthday Parade!”
Your Church Staff has come up with a plan in which everyone can participate in this celebration and greeting our Conference Minister all at once. We are suggesting gifts of “Thanksgiving Meal Items” so that we may provide Thanksgiving meals (to make at home) for families in our community who may have some difficulty supplying items for their meal. Items like: stuffing mix; canned yams, corn, or green beans; canned pumpkin; or gift cards for turkeys are all options and will be collected in baskets and boxes set up along the sidewalk. Drive by, drop off your gifts to the community, wave to Carrie and help us celebrate 120 years of Saint Paul’s being the church in the heart of the community with the community in our hearts! The Parade will start at Noon and ends at 12:30 p.m. If you arrive early, line up in the parking lot and be ready to celebrate. Blow your horns, wave and celebrate your church! Thank you and thank you for helping us celebrate Saint Paul’s way! #beingthechurch
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
· Community Pumpkin Patch (late October)
· The Community Soup Sale (early November)
· Community Thanksgiving Baskets
· Equal Exchange Coffee Sale
· CARE team Goodies and Meals
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 New/Expanded Opportunity: Sometimes, it is nice to receive a meal or a plate of cookies or a small pie, something just to say, “You are being thought of from your faith family.” Merle Kay Englehart and Geri Neese are leading a team to prepare meals and plan for delivery of food to individuals, just to say your church is thinking about you. Many times, it will be something small, yet heart felt.
Here’s how it works: If you know of someone in need or someone who you think may really appreciate a little boost like this, reach out to the church office. If you would like to volunteer, to be a baker or chef, contact Merle Kay or Geri to learn more. Maybe it’s a plate of cookies, or an individual dessert, bread, or a casserole. It doesn’t have to be a full meal. Just something to say, “We are thinking about you.” Another way to stay connected and #bethechurch.
Are you Home or Cyber-schooling? Want to go on a field trip? Watch for news and information about a field trip for home and cyber-school students of Saint Paul’s families and friends. The day field trips (working around cyber-school schedules) are now being discussed and soon to be planned. Stay tuned.
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. We will be following safe distancing practices and will comply with all state and local regulations. Pre-orders are required. We will order products and quantities based on all preorders.
Ground coffee, whole bean coffee, single serve cups, and tea can be purchased by the case, 6 items per case. Fellowship Blend is 5 items per case and Chocolate bars is 12 items to a case. You may pay for your orders via a check made to SPUCC or Easytithe.
Neighbors in Need is a special mission offering of the United Church of Christ that supports ministries of justice and compassion throughout the United States. One-third of NIN funds support the Council for American Indian Ministry (CAIM). Two-thirds of this offering is used by the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries (JWM) to support a variety of justice initiatives, advocacy efforts, and direct service projects through grants. Neighbors in Need grants are awarded to UCC churches and organizations doing justice work in their communities. These grants fund projects whose work ranges from direct service to community organizing and advocacy to address systemic injustice. This year, special consideration will be given to projects focusing on serving our immigrant neighbors and communities.
This week, this Sunday, has been designated “Neighbors in Need” Sunday as well as our own gifts to our neighbors through our items for Thanksgiving Baskets as a way to celebrate our birthday. And what a great day to celebrate all neighbors on this “World Communion Sunday.” It is a day in which we dedicate both a portion of our gifts that we have received at Saint Paul’s to go to the wider church’s Neighbors in Need offering and help feed our neighbors right here in our community. You may give through your tithes and offerings, via online, gifts mailed to the church or dropping gifts off during the parade today.