Sisters and brothers in Christ,
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
As we wrap up what is for most of us the second week of staying at home to slow the spread of COVID-19, I hope to offer a little encouragement. The combination of scary and troubling and sometime gut-wrenching, heart-breaking news, the loss of close, in person contact with friends and even family, the anxiety of whether or not we or someone we love falling ill, and the complete reworking of our calendars overwhelms us. We feel powerless. We want to scream. We want to cry. We just want this all to end. Swept up in all of this, it is easy to lose sight of the many good, right and true things that are happening in our lives and in our community, and it is difficult sometimes to notice what we are learning about ourselves, our world and our place in it as Jesus' people.
out of the Darkness; Into the light
Jesus tells his followers: "You are the light of the world ... therefore let your light so shine before others so that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16). When a person is baptized into the life of Christ, we had that child of God a lit candle and send them out with a charge to shine the light of Christ in all they do. As followers of Jesus and baptized children of God, we called out of the darkness that surrounds us and into the light of God's mercy, forgiveness and love, and we are sent to shine that light in the darkness, to make this world brighter in Jesus' name. To be light in the darkness is our work, and Christ Jesus is our light.
Digital detox is now a thing. It used to be just a handful of cranks warning us that the constant use of mobile devices would break our brains, but now even power users are bearing witness to the dark powers of ubiquitous technology. In many ways, tech has changed our lives for the better, but like most innovations that promise to improve life, there are unintended consequences with which we must reckon.
Here are some of troubles people are experiencing (perhaps you are as well) as we try to come to terms with our digital reality.
This image from Daniel Erlanger's Baptized We Live: Lutheranism As A Way of Life illustrates perfectly what Jesus is talking about when he speaks of the Word of the Kingdom is like seed.
God Gives in Abundance
The Parable of the Sower. Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
This week we sit at Jesus' feet as he teaches us about the kingdom of heaven using little stories to show us what it is like to live as a child of God. Parables are short, open-ended stories that invite us to discover the truth and wisdom of God's Word as we wrestle with what this means. In the parable today, Jesus guides the disciples so they can understand Jesus' Word of God's kingdom.
Yet, even with this guidance the open-ended nature of the story allows us God to speak in a variety of ways and on a variety of levels. Today, we're going to think about
Two ways of hearing this parable of the soils. We can hear it as a story about ...
1) My personal life in relation to God's Word, or about 2) Our community life in relation to the Word
A Report of Pastoral Ministry at St. Paul's
We share a common purpose at St. Paul's and that purpose is to proclaim the good new of Jesus Christ in word and deed. And so that purpose, that call to mission, becomes the guiding questions for us to set priorities, to make decisions and to judge the impact that each of our ministries has in the lives of the people of this congregation and in the community we serve.
We have organized our ministries at St. Paul's according the promises we make in Baptism: these are ministries of this congregation that primarily benefit those inside the fellowship of this community and those ministries of this congregation that benefit those who essentially outside our community. Additionally, there are ministries that support both axes of our mission. This report is organized to highlight that dual emphasis.
'I do ... and I ask God to help and guide me.'
This year, a number of things changed at St. Paul's. Among them, our budget process and the budget format itself. Because of these changes in process and plans, we haven't had a chance to adjust what we have come to know as our narrative or mission budget yet. In a narrative budget, we show how we use the resources allocated in the line-item budget to carry out God's mission. What we present this year, however, will be a line-item budget. Our line-item budget tells who we are going to pay or which program we intend to run. It communicates the specific uses that we have designated for the money collected in each of our four active funds: current fund, mission support, local mission and building. But, it is always a good idea at this time of year to consider and reflect the purposes of each of these ministries, as well as the importance of being part of a local congregation.
Make Jesus Your Goal
This time of year, you can find a lot of expert advice on how to make goals and the plans required to achieve those goals over the course of the new year. Whatever goals and plans you choose to make for yourself in the coming year, remember to connect those dreams and visions to your relationship with Jesus so that as you work to improve how you live your life you also open yourself allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen your relationship with God.
The St. Paul's church calendar isn't just a schedule of worship times and events -- more things to do -- it's a schedule of events and resources to strengthen your faith in Christ, opportunities to love and serve your neighbor, and finally to grow more deeply into the covenant God made with you in baptism.
The latest news, sermons and commentary on our life in mission together.