Pastor’s Corner – January 14, 2018

Call or Bust
 

As we explore beginnings this next month, I personally feel butterflies in my stomach. New beginnings can be exciting and nerve-wracking and frightening all at the same time. In the throes of changes and beginning something new, we may feel like the butterflies will never settle. When we are hurting, we may feel like the pain will never go away; we can’t imagine life before the pain or without the pain.

To me, no matter what beginning I am going through, the body of Christ is there as a community of support. When I was 22, I was sponsored for the Women’s Walk to Emmaus retreat here in Helena. I was getting ready to graduate college, and I had just been rejected from a mission internship with the UMC. The internship was a beginning that had ended abruptly. I had put all of my eggs in that basket, and now they were gone. I reluctantly agreed to the Emmaus retreat, and dreaded it. At that point, ministry seemed like a dead end.

Well, as you can see, it wasn’t as dead of an end as my 22-year-old-self had thought. It was a whole new beginning that I had not even fathomed. I met women and men who changed my life, truly changed my life. I was gobbled up by a community that not only supported me, but pushed me to be my best version of me. When I left that weekend, I didn’t know what my beginning quite was, but I knew I would be surrounded with love. By that time the next year, after a year of even more struggle than I could have imagined at that moment, I had a new beginning: I had just been accepted to seminary in North Carolina. I returned to Emmaus to help with the weekend, and I got to share the news of God’s call on my life, and share that news as a gift to the community as well. It was a beginning we went through together, even if it didn’t feel like it always.

I pray this sermon series brings questions to your mind about new beginnings, and what holds us back. What gives you butterflies in your stomach? And, most importantly, may you see the body of Christ as support and respite in your beginnings of beginnings and endings of beginnings. Finally, may you see your story as essential to someone else’s story.

Peace,

Pastor Sami



Pastor’s Corner – January 7, 2018

“Be still and know that I am God.” –Psalm 46:10

I used to think that during winter, when the ground is covered in snow and the trees are bare branches and plants seem lifeless, that everything is dead. Then I came to think that during winter, when the ground is covered in snow and the trees are bare branches and plants seem lifeless, that there is actually much life-creating work going on underground as roots grow deeper and branches store up nutrients which will become new growth. But after my reading today, I have come to learn that the reality in a climate like ours is in-between those two thoughts. Most plants and trees in winter are in fact dormant. Not dead, but not growing either. They are resting. Hmmm. Resting.

What does that teach us about our spiritual lives? What does it look like to rest our souls?

I am not an expert in this. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences. I’m sure there are many ways to rest our souls. One might be along these lines. I read in my devotional this week a suggestion to create time to sit in silence and “allow our spirit to settle.” Her advice was to carve out 5 minutes to begin and not to expect anything, just allow the soul to open to the presence of God. Resting our soul. What do you think? How do you rest your soul?

Walking on the path of grace,

Pastor Patti



Canned Food/Can Opener Challenge Begins

GOD HUNGER group at St. Paul’s has decided to challenge the rest of our congregation to a Food Drive for Food Share. Starting in January and going through Valentine’s Day we will cheerfully gather, count and deliver canned tuna and chicken and peanut butter. We think it is important to remember that after the holidays hunger continues for many families in Helena. We can be part of the answer for that problem.

We also declare Sunday, January 21 to be Can Opener Sunday at St. Paul’s UMC and will also count the number of those we collect. Why are we counting??? Because next year we will be challenging the congregation to set a new record based on numbers this year.

We welcome anyone interested in meditation and being a part of a small group to join us for God Hunger group on Tuesdays at Noon in St. Paul’s Balcony. Bring your lunch if you wish…we will meditate and share with each other.



Pastor’s Corner – Dec. 31, 2017

For over twenty years, on Christmas eves, St. Paul’s received an anonymous poem from The Christmas Poet of St. Paul’s. The poem would arrive in the Christmas offering as a gift from the poet. Some years later, The Christmas Poet of St. Paul’s also began contributing a poem to the Easter offering. In 2014 this anonymous poet included a letter with the poem stating, “this is the final delivery,” but included a challenge for others to take up the tradition. In 2015, The Anonymous Christmas Poet of St. Paul’s II emerged. Here is our Christmas gift from the poet this year:
 
Unwrapping Christmas
 
A beautifully wrapped gift
Oh how it brings us joy.
What could it possibly be?
A blanket, a scarf, a toy?
A gift given us from our family or our friend.
A time of year we show our love
through the gifts we send.
I think it must be Gods’ favorite time of year too.
For God gives us the gift of life then sees what we do.
We continually think of others and our generosity flows,
The good that is in our hearts spills over and grows.
By giving we are happier, for we are designed this way,
It lifts our spirits to share our love by giving it away.

Our gift to God may just be time to give someone in need,
It may be to volunteer and to plant a seed.
It may be a simple hug or a supportive word,
An encouragement to let someone know that they are heard.
The most precious gifts are not always wrapped in boxes and in bags,
with frilly ribbon and colored bows and pretty Christmas tags.
So this year as Christmas comes and you are buying things in part,
Just know that some of the greatest gifts …come straight from the heart.

– The Christmas Poet of St. Paul’s II



Pastor’s Corner – Dec. 17, 2017

Advent Quiz!

Test your knowledge about the tradition of Advent!

(answers at bottom of page)

  1. What does the word Advent mean?
    1. Before Christmas
    2. Arrival or coming
    3. To go on an adventure
    4. A website for online Christmas coupons
    5. All of the above
  2. Like Lent, Advent is a fixed number of days before Christmas.
    1. True
    2. False
  3. According to tradition, how far did Mary travel to visit Elizabeth?
    1. 10 miles
    2. 50 miles
    3. 100 miles
    4. 500 miles
  4. What is a Jesse Tree?
    1. Another name for a Christmas tree
    2. The tree decorated with Chrismons
    3. A tree that blossoms at Christmastime
    4. A representation of Jesus’ family tree
  5. What is the meaning of the Hebrew word “Emmanuel”?
    1. Mighty king
    2. Christ Child
    3. God with us
    4. All of the above
    5. None of the above

 

How did you do? What is your favorite part of Advent? What would you like to learn more about during this season in the church? This season of prophecy and answered prayers is a season of preparation, but it is also a season of joy and hope and realization that God is with us forevermore.

For more information on Advent and the United Methodist traditions surrounding this season, visit http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/what-is-advent

 

Merry Christmas!

Pastor Sami
 

Answers: 1.) B  2.) False  3.) C  4.) D  5.) C



Pastor’s Corner – Dec. 10, 2017

I have this tiny little Christmas tree with 9 lights on it that I keep lit by my bedside. Each night I spend 5-10 minutes in quiet with all the lights off except this little tree. I sit and relax into the beauty and stillness of the night and I breathe. It is a small act to counteract the hustle and bustle of these days. But it stills my heart and calms my soul.

Instead of filling your mind with even more words in these season of overload, I just want to offer this simple prayer and an invitation to spend time in quiet each day.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
And be light for our darkness,
Be comfort in our grief,
A guide for our path.
Be a friend in our loneliness,
An oasis in our searching,
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Restore our joy,
heal our wounds,
and bring us peace.
Amen.

Walking toward the crèche,

Pastor Patti



Pastor’s Corner – December 3

The Holiday Dinner Table

Ah. The holiday dinner table. A place of wonderful memories, delicious food, and high anxiety. Along with the common stress during holidays and meal planning, our country’s political tension the last few years has caused disruption with the holiday dinner table. Even with the general election completed over a year ago, there are still repercussions of the outcome amongst families, friends, and co-workers. When we are able to control the news we read and see, being bombarded with opposing views is not our favorite dessert for the holidays.
 
Unfortunately, this tension can extend past meals and into cancelled wedding invites, vacations, and life-long grudges are cemented. What do we do about this? Whether we carry our own hurts about this topic or see others hurting around us, what do we do?
 
Conversations around delicate topics are difficult, vulnerable, and often passionate and painful. But, they are also very important. Those conversations are important because they are happening less and less, which just make the holiday dinner table more tense.
 
So, as vulnerable and tough that these conversations can be, the work is crucial for our relationships within and outside our families. Working through anxiety and tension will help us reconnect with those whom we love. Serving one another will also help. We see the needs of others instead of focusing on our personal needs. Most importantly, remembering our hope is found in God’s grace, not in winning arguments will help us heal and find peace in tense and high-stressful times.
 
As we enter into the season of company parties, family gatherings, and possibly tense holiday dinner tables, I invite us all to strive for health, peace, and respect toward those whom we love. May we lean in to situations outside of our comfort zone, create peace with those we interact with, and reconnect with friends and family.
 
 
Peace,
Pastor Sami


John Floridis Benefit Concert – December 12, 2017

Benefit Concert for Family Promise

Tuesday, December 12  – 7 PM – St. Paul’s UMC

John Floridis, Missoula guitarist and singer-songwriter, will be performing a benefit concert for Family Promise of Greater Helena. Attendance is free of charge. Monetary contributions are encouraged and will be accepted at the performance. The concert is generously supported by Big Sky Brokers of Helena.
 

Floridis will be performing material from his two seasonal releases: “December’s Quiet Joy” and “The Peaceful Season” both of which will feature his fingerstyle acoustic guitar arrangements of the traditional Christmas/Winter melodies, as well as original compositions. Floridis will also include uplifting and positive vocal songs in the performance. The audience will escape the frantic stress that too often pervades the holiday season and relax in an intimate listening environment with music to warm the heart and soul.



Shoeboxes for BUMP – Christmas 2017

BLACKFEET UNITED METHODIST PARISH (BUMP) CHRISTMAS SHOE BOX COLLECTION

We are delighted to continue our tradition of fostering a relationship with the Blackfeet by donating items for their children. Financial situations on the reservation are difficult for many. For some children the items in our shoe boxes are the only gifts they receive at Christmas.
 
Three Different Ways to Complete the Gifting
1.)  Assemble and wrap a standard size shoe box with gifts for a girl or boy of the age range you choose – newborn to 2, 3-7, 8-12 or 13-17. Suggested gift items include small toys, school supplies, hygiene items, winter gloves and scarves, etc.
 
2.)  Purchase some of the suggested gift items and deposit them in the box in the fellowship hall (Covenant UMC) or deliver them to the church office at 512 Logan Street (St. Paul’s UMC).
 
3.)  Give a monetary donation. Please make your check out to Covenant UMC or St. Paul’s UMC with “BUMP Christmas Shoe Box Project” on the memo line.
 
We hope EVERYONE will join us at a wrapping party at St. Paul’s on December 6 at 6 PM (following Wednesday Night Dinner) to culminate this meaningful mission project. United Methodist Women from both churches, youth, and individuals have purchased items to include in these gifts. Others have filled their own individual boxes or purchased individual items to be included and those may be taken to the office before that evening or brought to the event. If you are able to come on the afternoon December 6 at 2:00 PM, your help organizing the gifts will be appreciated. You do not have to commit ahead of time, but if you have questions, call Vicki Weida at 439-8390.


Pastor’s Corner — Nov. 5

Those to Glory Gone
 
I sing a song of the saints of God, patient and brave and true, who toiled and fought and lived and died for the Lord they loved and knew…
 

This week we celebrate All Saints’ Day. It is a day to celebrate those who have gone before us, who stand with us still, and who unite as the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12). It is a day that can mean many things to many people. Some Christian traditions honor saints more or less than others. No matter what, it is a day to remember and honor those who have shaped our church, our lives, and our faith.

My last semester in seminary, I received a care package in the mail. It was from my future appointment home, Choteau UMC. I had already been appointed to begin in July of that year, but I wasn’t there quite yet. Twice a year, the church assembles care packages for affiliated college students during finals week. They knew I was finishing school, so they sent me a box of goodies. There was a main card from the congregation, but stuffed in the corner was another little card with a dollar enclosed. It was from a parishioner who wanted me to choose a place to donate the dollar. I didn’t think much about it and dropped the dollar in a children’s offering at church.

I arrived at Choteau and began to get to know the parishioners. In October of that year, an active parishioner had a massive heart attack and passed away. The funeral was difficult for all involved. Her ministry and love were great, and the loss of her weighed on everyone’s hearts.

A few weeks later, I was picking through a box of school stuff, and I found that little card from my care package. It happened to be from the parishioner who had just died. That saint from May, the name that meant little to me then, was now my friend. I read her note again with different eyes. I read her name with a different tune; a saint of God, patient and brave and true, who toiled and fought and lived and died for the Lord she loved and knew.

Let us give thanks for both the saints in glory and those on earth, who have connected us to God. May we add our voices so someone else may hear about the grace and love of God.

 

Pastor Sami