Why Not Let 2021 Be God's Year?
December 30, 2020 “What happens here, doesn’t stay here…”
Dear Church Family,
This week, a friend shared the following on social media:
“Nobody claim 2021 as “your year.”
We’re all going to walk in real slow.
Be good. Be quiet.
Don’t. Touch. Anything.”
Yes, I laughed. After the year 2020 has been, it feels like an appropriate way to enter 2021.
Recently, I have heard stories of Gloria Gaither talking about how she has always discovered God in the interruptions in her life. And this, to me, has certainly been a year of interruptions. Not much has been able to move forward as planned, not much has been accomplished as thought - weddings, memorial services, funerals, regular worship services, vacations, business trips, birthday parties, even elective medical treatments or dinner out with friends. You name it, the norm has been interrupted. And I wonder have we listened for or found God in the interruptions of this past year?
There’s a Bible story which I love to think on and love the way my mind sees the story, it’s from I Samuel 3:3-18 and it is told like this:
“God’s lamp hadn’t gone out yet, and Samuel was lying down in the Lord’s temple, where God’s chest was. The Lord called to Samuel. “I’m here,” he said. Samuel hurried to Eli and said, “I’m here. You called me?” “I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go lie down.” So, he did.
Again, the Lord called Samuel, so Samuel got up, went to Eli, and said, “I’m here. You called me?” “I didn’t call, my son,” Eli replied. “Go and lie down.” Now Samuel didn’t yet know the Lord, and the Lord’s word hadn’t yet been revealed to him. A third time the Lord called Samuel. He got up, went to Eli, and said, “I’m here. You called me?”
Then Eli realized that it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So, Eli said to Samuel, “Go and lie down. If he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.’” So, Samuel went and lay down where he’d been. Then the Lord came and stood there, calling just as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel said, “Speak. Your servant is listening.”
God was in the interruption of Samuel’s sleep. I wonder how many of us have heard or found God in the interruptions of this past year? Have we thought we were in control and then so many things happened that were out of our control and in the midst of it have we spent time searching for our own answers and not listening for God’s voice? Have we allowed ourselves to listen to God in the interruption or are we, like Samuel searching for an expected answer?
It strikes me that we are so often thinking we are “large and in-charge” so to speak, we have to go and do and be and plan and we rarely stop to contemplate what really matters or how we truly discover happiness in our lives. Of course, it can’t be in serving others, we deserve…, of course, it can’t be in putting someone else first, we are entitled to…, of course, it can’t be inconvenient for me, I can just…. And here we are after a year of discovering really how much we aren’t in charge, just because we think we deserve or this is going to be our year…we think we can claim it. Yet, are we claiming the wrong thing?
Maybe the way to enter 2021 is to go in quietly and listen for God. Not claim anything for ourselves, instead just be and listen to hear how God may be calling to you, what plans God may have for your gifts and talents. How many interruptions do we need before we, like Samuel can say: “I’m here. You called me?” Let’s let 2021 be God’s year in our lives. It will work out infinitely better, I promise!
Here’s to a Happy New Year!
In our daily prayers…
You are invited to join your faith family in prayer as we lift up:
Dale Franquet, who is now recovering at home;
Powell Family, who will be celebrating Eric’s life today;
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;
Katy Mahon, who is awaiting determinations by healthcare professionals about her kidney;
Mina Hoover and her family as Mina, 5, awaits surgery at GMC Danville;
Continued prayers for Clarence Snider as he recovers from a recent fall; and
Merle Kay Englehart, awaiting cardiac surgery
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 we enter a new year, we pray.
Technology Upgrade is here:
Thank you! A new video camera is being installed today with the skill and hands of Heath Hansum, (as well as Doug Kister and Chip Palazzo) along with some updated technology pieces that will allow us to better serve our on-line community. This was all made possible by a a technology grant of $1,500 from the National Church UCC and gifts from several others in our community. We were able to save some money on the $3,500 original cost and spent $3,095 on the upgrade. Of the remaining $1,595 needed, we have received a pledge of $1,000 plus donations in hand of $820 as of today. Thank you! Goal Exceeded! Project Completed!
Online giving made easy…especially for End of Year giving!
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. Our online giving has been received in record numbers this year and we are grateful that the technology was in place to do so. If you would like to give so that your donation may be included in your 2020 taxable deductions, you may do so online by midnight December 31, 2020. If you are dropping your donation off or putting it in the mail, it must be received in the office by 2 p.m. Thursday or postmarked 12/31. Again, thank you for all the support you have given to us in this unprecedented year. Your gifts of offerings, tithes and time have been much appreciated and will be forever.
A note from our Minister of Music…
Occasionally, Russ Wynn, Jr., our very own Minister of Music, writes an email to the choir members that is a mix of theological musings and a call for Special Music. If you can offer Special Music, whether you normally sing in the choir or not or know of someone near to us that could share in special music let Russ know that as well. For now…enjoy this great message from Russ and join me in lifting prayers of thanks for Russ and his service to us as he shares his God given gifts and talents.
Hi there folks!
I trust that you all had a blessed Christmas! Lord knows it was different than any other year. I really had intentions to send this out before Christmas...but I really struggled. Christmas, it's no secret, is one of my favorite times of the year. Part of that reason is because of the music involved. Now, before I go further, let me just say how incredibly thankful I am for all of you that have helped to provide special music for worship SINCE MARCH!!!! We truly did have some beautiful, inspiring, meaningful music throughout this Christmas season, but it was not the same. I miss now, more than ever, YOU! I miss choirs, I miss that sense of creating something beautiful and worshipful together. I miss seeing your faces as the lyrics take on new and personal meaning, I miss directing. All of these things weighed heavily on me during the month of December. But, as Dr Seuss wrote in "The Grinch":
"It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
Christmas for a choir director/organist can be pretty chaotic, and it can be very easy to miss the meaning of what I am doing because of what I am doing! That’s why our Christmas eve candlelight service is always a favorite memory. It was always one moment in the middle of the madness when all was calm, and all was bright. The craziness of the season subsided as we stood and sang Silent Night by candlelight. These words, by one of my favorite Christian singers, seem appropriate:
Take me back to Silent Night My heart was full and the world was right ‘Cus right now the world looks nothing like Those innocent Decembers
Can you relate to those sentiments this year?? I know I can.
When Jesus was born, the world was not at peace. Nations were at war. There was political turmoil and religious unrest. Worry, anxiety, stress, and tension arrived on the scene long before the year 2020. But God knew exactly what we needed then and offers exactly what we need today. That’s why the prophecy of His coming in Isaiah 9:6 included a list of names to describe the much needed gift that would soon arrive, “…and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
I wonder if you, like me, are longing for peace in the midst of chaos. Have you endured too many not-so-silent nights this year? Would you give anything for the noise of this world to stop… for the fear to subside? Has it been hard to catch your breath and hear His voice? While wise men came bringing Him gifts, the Prince of Peace arrived offering us a gift of soul-calming, heart-holding, mind-easing peace. “I’m leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So, don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27).
Create some space this Christmas season. (We still have 7 days!) Get alone. (Not too hard to do these days!) Turn off your phone. “Be still,” like Psalm 46:10 says, and know that He is God. You see, when peace on earth is hard to find, it might mean that we’re just not looking in the right place. When we look to the world, we find anything but peace. But when we fall at the feet of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we will find the wonderful gift of peace this Christmas.
NOW....we are not done! Time marches on, and so does worship at St. Paul's!! And since we are not able to meet together YET....we still need music to enhance our worship!
I have every Sunday available at this point! (Except this Sunday....Thanks Olivia!!) Please send me a note (Text (570)490-5897, or email is best!) with a date, (and preferably a song!) you would like to sing! Do it now, before you forget! Go get your calendar....right now....and pick a date (or two or three!)
Some of you have no desire to sing on your own (Although many of you could and should!!) Maybe you know someone that could share in our worship with us?? Give them a call....right now...and then let me know.
Again....thanks for all you do! Hoping you all have a happy, healthy, and hopefully soon, somewhat normal...new year!
In HIS grip,
Coffee, Tea, or Chocolate (What did you expect?):
Order your 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 via our website.
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.
Here Comes 2021…
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.
The first book of 2021 “You Are Never Alone: Trust in the Miracle of God’s Presence and Power” by Max Lucado. This six-week study takes us through the Gospel of John and the miracles he recorded asking some life-searching questions.
If you would like a hard copy of the book, please reach out to Donna in the church office (570) 568-1433 (books available beginning Jan. 3) or you may find the book electronically on Amazon Kindle as well. Join us on Zoom, Meeting ID: 5705681433; Passcode: 0501 January 12, 2021.
“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.
An informational meeting will be held Sunday, January 17 6:30 p.m., via Zoom (Meeting ID 5705681433; PW: 0501). Come and learn more!
We are excited to be able to offer this great opportunity for our church family!
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!
Sundays with David and Friends: There’s a great option for adult Sunday School on Sunday mornings at 9:15 a.m. led by David Reid. Each season the group gathers via Zoom and works through a book of the Bible. All are welcome, if you know nothing of the Bible or are a Bible guru, your voice and presence are welcome. Look for the group on Zoom, beginning again on January 10. Meeting ID: 5705681433; Passcode 0501.
Fresh Express - Two Monthly Distributions Continue! Fresh Express, our local food distribution program in conjunction with the Central Penn Food Bank, continues into 2021 on the second and fourth Thursdays monthly. The program is currently distributing grocery boxes of mixed perishable and non-perishable food items to between 115 and 120 families each distribution. Extra or left-over items are being distributed to organizations in need in our area as well. Should you wish more information about this program, contact General Al Henry, Earl Fisher or Beth Vincent!
“Reach out and touch…and let the smile of God touch through you.” (as the old hymn goes)
No, really. Reach out and touch someone. Yes, for years I worked for AT&T and their old advertising slogan was “Reach out and Touch…” I am attempting to stay in touch with everyone as I can, however if you have not heard from me in a while, I would love to hear from you. So pick up your phone and give me a call, drop me an email or card and just say hi. This time, while we have been at this now more than nine months, doesn’t seem to get easier, I continue to miss you in the Sanctuary on Sunday mornings, hearing you laugh and share stories in the Fellowship Hall, getting to be gathered around the tables in the Fellowship Hall packed in for a meal…wherever it is, I miss you and I know we all miss one another. So, don’t hesitate to reach out, not just to me, but one another. A phone call, a card, an email or note, especially during these long days of winter reaching out will certainly be welcome.
All too often I hear, “well I don’t want to be a bother…” or “they may be busy…” or “I’m not sure they would want to hear from me.” Just reach out to one another, let them know you miss them, you are thinking of them or just to say hi. If you are thinking of others, I’m pretty sure they are thinking of you. If you need a number or an address and don’t have it, call the church office, let us help you stay connected.
This week @ Saint Paul’s:
Wed., Dec. 30 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Church Office Open
Thur. Dec. 31 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Church Office Open
Fri., Jan. 1 Happy New Year!
Sun., Jan. 3 Happy Birthday Robin Brown
Happy Birthday Ruth Henry
10:30 a.m. Worship LIVE (https://tinyurl.com/ran9suv ) / or
Mon., Jan. 4 Happy Birthday Erica Arnold
Happy Birthday Ruth Henry
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. - Church Office Open
Tue., Jan. 5 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 Returning January 10)
· 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
· Summer 2021 Appalachian Mission Trip
Reach out to learn more about these and many other opportunities at the church!