Pastor’s Corner – February 2021

We’ve crossed into a fresh new year and I wonder how are you doing? Really, how are you doing? Are you able to see hope and the promise and a vision of what the future will be like? Are you able to see hope in the coming vaccines? Are you able to imagine excitement for this, our 100th year at Saint Paul? I pray that, despite COVID and other realities, you are able to hold hope and gratitude in your heart. If you are struggling to do that, consider this the sign you were waiting for. Please reach out to me. I’ll listen as you vent, we can pray together, and I will continue to personally pray for you. 

In this second month of our fresh new year are a few things. February, this year is quite the potluck of events. February 7th is Super Bowl 55 and the 14th is Valentine’s Day. Lent begins in February this year, beginning with Ash Wednesday on the 17th. Because I have to get very near to impose ashes, it would not be safe for either of us in this pandemic. We’ll have an online-only Ash Wednesday service. Spoiler alert – you’ll need a candle. 😉 

This Lent, the mid-week services after Ash Wednesday will be in-person services. We’ll look at God’s covenants, beginning with the early ones like Noah and Abraham. Please see the rest of The Pilot for a clip-and-save of the dates and times. 

I’ll sign off this month with a reminder about our hope. 

“but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31 

Soli Deo Gloria! 

Pastor’s Corner – January 2021

It’s the new year – at last! The past season of Advent and waiting seemed like a good image for the whole of the year 2020. Waiting. Waiting for the crazy and stress to end. Yet in spite of the crazy and stress of 2020, there were great things that happened. God was on the move. 

First Thessalonians 5:19 says, “do not quench the spirit.” That means don’t extinguish the Holy Spirit, don’t try to squelch what God is doing. So many things in the year 2020 seemed as though they tried to extinguish the Spirit, but the spirit of God was not extinguished, blown out, or quenched. God was at work. One example – of many – was that our worship continued. We took worship online and later, both online and in person. 

2021, I pray, will be a great year. I believe already that it will a great year. Our congregation will celebrate 100 years of worshipping and serving during 2021. Our stories will be told and His story will be told that our neighbors and our community may know Christ. 

In this start of our 100th year, it’s only fitting to learn more of God’s story. God’s story in the Scriptures guides our lives, teaches us, renews us, and draws us closer to Him. To equip us, this month we’ll begin the “E100 Challenge.” The E100 is a list of 100 essential Bible lessons from creation to Revelation that we’ll join together in enjoying. The E100 idea was designed by Scripture Union. The E100 is designed to be a personal challenge and a community challenge. You can enjoy it daily for a span of 100 days or over six months, a year, or over some other timeframe. This is great for seasoned Bible readers as well as those who keep thinking, “I really need to get in the habit of reading my Bible.” 

“As you take the E100® Challenge, remember that your goal is not just to make it through the world’s greatest book, or to gain more Bible knowledge, or to become more spiritually disciplined. Those things are very important, but your higher goal is to get to know the Bible’s author, God himself. The reason God gave us the Bible is that he wants us to know who he is. It really is true: if you want to know God, read his Book” (Scripture Union). 

There are three ways to participate in the 100 on our 100th. Mix and match the ways as you have need or as you desire: 

  1. You can use the enclosed list to read from your Bible and track your progress. 
  2. You can go to our E100 web page (located under Worship/Study), click on the Read link for the day, and read from your computer or mobile device. 
  3. Or, using your computer or mobile device, there is a third way to participate. Using the website, you can click on the Listen link and be directed to Bible Gateway to use a play button and have the verses read to you. For readings that enter a new chapter, you will need to use their pull-down (circled) to select the next chapter. 

We enter a new year, full of promise. We enter our 100th year as the community of Saint Paul. And we enter into the essential 100 Bible lessons. In this new year, in our 100th, it is my prayer that we continue to fan the flame of faith in one another (2 Timothy 1:6) and in our neighborhood. 

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pastor’s Corner – October 2020

I read an interesting article near the end of September. It detailed a person who was following worship communities during COVID. The article noted that, like the rest of the population, people were getting COVID fatigue. However, it found that worship communities were largely doing one of two things. Either the community was trying to do things as normal and was found grieving for all the loses or the community was adaptive. Not surprisingly, those communities trying to do things as normal were finding less engagement with members and less giving. The other communities were trying to do meaningful things in adaptive ways. They found engagement and either solid giving or even a rise in giving. I give thanks to God as I believe Saint Paul is in this second category.

While these may be trying times and unprecedented times, the times offer us an opportunity to be creative. They offer us an opportunity to be creative at worship and in fellowship and in service. The outdoor fellowship time after worship on September 27th is just one example. Coffee, tea, pre-packaged snacks and our lawn chairs in the parking lot allowed for socially distant visiting. This is but one example of this community’s creativity and faithfulness to God and to one another.

This October is the commemoration of Saint Francis. He was known to care for the animals and to recognize that God gave people the responsibility of caring for God’s creatures. For many of us, God’s creatures have been just the furry/scaly/feathery companions needed during these times. On Saturday, October 3rd, weather providing, will be an animal blessing, near the garden. For this outdoor worship, we’ll be socially distanced and enjoy God’s creatures out in God’s creation. It is a short service that includes a blessing and a treat for the pet/animal. Animals need to be in a carrier, on a leash or harness, in a cage or terrarium, or with a bridle.

Other ideas for fellowship and service include three types of exchanges – purse, book, and puzzle. In these, participants exchange these items (fellowship) and donate from that group (service) good quality purses/books/puzzle to various places such as to a women’s shelter, to the school(s), to Longview. These could be conducted in the fellowship hall with distancing, masks, and cleaning. The purse exchange will be October 17th at 1pm. See the blurb in the Pilot for more details.

What other serving things can you think of? Social things? We welcome creative ideas in worship, in reaching out to others socially, and in serving. How can we worship and live out our faith while keeping people safe during the pandemic? Don’t keep the ideas to yourself. Email them to Lori and I: Secretary@StPaulMoValley.org and Pastor@StPaulMoValley.org . Suggestions and volunteers are always welcome. Thank you, God, for a thriving community!

To God be the Glory,