Pastor’s Corner – January 28, 2018

What is Your Spiritual Type?

As we continue to explore different beginnings in our individual lives, another facet of beginnings is beginnings within the church. One of our responsibilities as the body of Christ and church communities is to nurture and raise up new leaders. This refers to those exploring God’s call within a lay leadership arena and also exploring God’s call toward professional ministry. Both of these are important work! My favorite part of baptizing people is presenting the person to the community before me and sharing our spiritual responsibility to nurture and raise him/her to be the best version of themselves possible.
 

These beginnings aren’t just at baptisms. One of the best ways to explore ways God is moving you toward leadership is through spiritual gifts inventories and simple quizzes. The Living Prayer Center, a ministry of The Upper Room, which is the publishing house of the Walk to Emmaus curriculum, offers a spiritual-type test to help with discerning. The test consists of 15 questions and four possible results: Sage, Lover, Prophet, and Mystic.

Your first challenge: to take a couple minutes and take this spiritual test! It may surprise you! I just took it and my result was Sage. It says I value responsibility, logic, and order. I love words, busy schedules, and details. My contributions are usually found in theology, education, and publishing. It also says I need to break a rule or two once in a while to not be dry!

Go to http://prayer-center.upperroom.org/resources/quiz and discover what your spiritual type is. What did you learn about yourself? Where does your type pull you in our communities’ leadership?

Your second challenge: tell me what your type is! Let’s find you a place to explore that spiritual type! Maybe there is a book you want to study or a community project you would like to support. As we begin this year, let’s begin some new ministries together!

Peace,
Pastor Sami



Pastor’s Corner – January 21, 2018

We are only three weeks into 2018 and it feels like months! I think because I have been hearing story after story of trauma, stress, and difficulty. My daughter Amanda is living right in the midst of the mudslides in Montecito, CA. Each day she tells me about the death and destruction as well as the hope and life. They go hand in hand. I have been following the disturbing stories of the gymnasts and athletes who suffered abused at the hands of a pedophile doctor. As much as my heart breaks, I also have been inspired by their courage and power in telling their stories. What has struck me in all of this is the evidence of the faithfulness and everlasting love of God in the midst of all the pain. I also have been hearing stories of cancer, untimely deaths, and other traumas. But in each story is a thread strength, love, courage, and hope. A light shining through the broken cracks. Alongside all this trauma I have been studying the life of Jonah…you know the guy who ended up in the belly of a big fish! His story has wide swings between curse and blessing, obedience and rebellion. The imagery in his prayer is powerful and has grabbed ahold of my heart. It conveys the turmoil he was in as well as the hope he holds on to from the bottom of the sea.

Jonah’s Prayer (Jonah 2:1-6 NLT)

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish. He said,

“I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble,
    and he answered me.
I called to you from the land of the dead,
    and Lord, you heard me!
You threw me into the ocean depths,
    and I sank down to the heart of the sea.
The mighty waters engulfed me;
    I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves.
Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence.
    Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’

“I sank beneath the waves,
    and the waters closed over me.
    Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.
I sank down to the very roots of the mountains.
    I was imprisoned in the earth,
    whose gates lock shut forever.
But you, O Lord my God,
    snatched me from the jaws of death!

 

So, for those of you out there who feel like you are sinking in a sea of waves, facing turmoil of your own, may you find hope and comfort in Jonah’s prayer. Make it your own, holding onto a thread of faith, trusting in God, even from the bottom of the sea. And may we all lift one another up with love and compassion, for we never know what people are going through.

 

Walking on the path of grace,

Pastor Patti



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.