WWJS (What would Jesus say?)
August 26, 2020
Dear Church Family,
I was reminded today that it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said, “In normal life, we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.” I would add to this the text from Matthew 5, “…live a generous life”; give to others in appreciation.
I thought of that as I hear the news and see what is happening around us in our nation. As a youth, I remember hearing “hell fire and brimstone” sermons on the ills of sin, fear God, come to God or risk being damned to fires of the eternal. Those sermons and words always made me uncomfortable. My heart hurt because even as a youth and young adult I didn’t understand God’s love and grace to work that way - from a place of fear. If I’m being honest, it did have something to do with my delayed call to ministry. However, for me, it also gives me now in life an entirely other perspective. It is also what most fuels my passion for a message of a God that is loving and grace filled, now more than ever.
In today’s world, I am hearing over and over fear-mongering and hate speech and blatant attempts to defame others based on playing fast and loose with the truth. In today’s world, I am hearing and seeing people proof texting, trying to validate their feelings by picking and choosing whatever they can find to support their point of view, even if it is blatantly false. I’m hearing how we should fear one another, how we should be very afraid of what could happen, calling us to live and vote from a place of terror. What happened to having a generous and loving heart? Did someone say, “Christians, put that on the shelf and come with me to a place of division and divisive language, name calling and mud flinging.” Were those things in the lost years of Jesus’ life that I have not been allowed to know? I know it happens every election and it happens in every political party to some degree, however I also know just because one is doing it doesn’t make it ok for us to jump on the band wagon. Instead, is it not up to us to stand up even taller, even stronger and say, “You aren’t stealing my Jesus. You aren’t distracting me from my faith.”
There are many reasons I am so blessed to be the Pastor of Saint Paul’s. Not the least of which is that I believe our faith community is certainly attempting to be the best unifying, grateful and peaceful place it can be. Maybe I’m naïve, maybe I’m blind by the good works and deeds of members of our faith family. As far as I know, we work hard to help all people. We do not fear one another in our differences. We respect one another in our differences and I pray in our words, actions, and deeds - in person, on social media or whenever we gather in our homes. I assume we are all acting from a place of love and grace every moment we can and not perpetuating falsehoods or creating fear or division. We are unified through something far greater than political party, or even country. It is to me that we are unified through Christ Jesus in God.
Of course, this leaves me to wonder, “Are we afraid if we don’t make it about division that we may lose something that we perceive is ours?” What happens to “it is in giving that we receive?” What happens to caring for every brother and sister? Do we check it at the door when it comes to political leanings or racial justice?
I would be lying if I said I didn’t have some fears that the division could get worse. We lose more sight of our gratitude and seek sides and lines to divide. That the fear mongering and the screaming and yelling and falsehoods would be swallowed hook line and sinker and the divisions would grow. It already has roots. The only way it will wither is without it being fed. Yet, the only way not to feed the division is to live into the unity and gratitude I believe we are called to love and accept every neighbor and we, I believe, practice that and when we get it wrong we ask forgiveness and try to do better. We don’t dig deeper to validate or vilify. This is what I hold onto for our hope. This is how I believe we stand up for justice. We don’t argue the falsehoods and the fear. We seek to model the grace and love of Christ. It strikes me that Jesus rarely defended Christianity (except in the Temple when he had had all he could take of defiling his Father’s house and he turned the tables over and ran the money changers out). Jesus instead continued over and over to preach love and grace and act in a way that brought healing and wholeness to the world around him and then, then he charged the disciples of all time to do the same. Don’t seek or highlight division. Live and live into unity. What are you doing to practice wholeness and unity in our community, in our world, in our families? My prayer is that this day and every day we search our hearts for the ways Jesus would call us to respond. In faith, gratitude, grace and love. May we practice it daily, hourly, moment by moment, for I still believe God’s love and grace (and respect for one another) will be the difference-maker in this world and in our community. Colossians 3:17 - And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Then and then only, is it so that we may answer the question “Who are we?” Amen, Pastor Tim
In our daily prayers…
Harold Keiser, Jr. and his wife Teena need our prayers as well as their children Chris and Mary. Mr. Keiser is on comfort care at home currently. I would also ask for prayers for all those in the path of the storms that are battering the Gulf coast states, we have no idea the devastation these families may face and lift them in prayer. I pray for the people of Kenosha, Wisconsin, and ask you to join me in prayer for Jacob Blake, the police officers involved, care givers and family as well as the community around them all. I pray for and ask you to join me in praying for all those impacted by the California wild fires, for the firefighters and home owners and I pray for our nation and its division, may we all pray and work for peace. Additionally, new to our prayer list this week, please add Jeff and Laura, Gary and Ali. Thank you and as always, please pray for your church.
Announcements, announcements, announcements…
Thank you! Thanks to you and your generous spirit, we donated 457 wash cloths to the cause of creating “hygiene kits” to be distributed to people in need from Mission Central in Mechanicsburg. We participated as a part of the larger project by our Penn Central Conference UCC. Just a way to be the church in the larger community.
A New 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 heading up 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, contact Merle Kay or Geri to learn more or be a food provider, maybe it’s just a plate of cookies, an individual desert, bread, 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.
Coming in September! A new family style Sunday School / Devotion, the Adult Sunday School hour returns, and mission opportunities to help our neighbors. Stay tuned, there is something for everyone!
Coming in October! A very special celebration for our 120th Anniversary! We will welcome Rev. Dr. Carrie Call who will be bringing the message to Saint Paul’s on October 4 and, of course, have some great special music as we explore ways for everyone to participate in this wonderful celebration! Watch for announcements of how you can help be a part of this great day!
Monday Morning Preacher, 10:30 a.m. each Monday. We gather via Zoom and all are welcome to this Monday morning Bible Study. Link: 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”. We move into Chapter 4 this evening. Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5705681433
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).
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.
Ways to connect to worship:
Join us LIVE on Facebook or on YouTube for worship every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. 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 or just click on the button via our website at www.spuccwm.org. See step by step instructions below.
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.
If you are on YouTube, hit the like button, and tap the bell to be sure you are reminded when we go live.
May grace, hope, peace and love abound.