February 21 2016 Pastor’s Corner

We continue our Lenten Study on Discipleship with a focus on prayer. Prayer is something Jesus taught to his disciples and is deeply rooted in Jesus’ Jewish tradition. This ancient practice is something that people seeking God have continued to struggle with.

Take a minute and imagine a complete stranger walking up to you and asking, “What is prayer?”

Prayer is hard to define. Is prayer a conversation with God? Is prayer listening for Jesus’ call in our lives? Is prayer simple meditation that is good for our blood pressure? All of these questions could be answered with a yes.

However, as a disciple of Jesus we should look to his answer when he was asked how people should pray. He answered with the Lord’s Prayer that we say every single Sunday. In it I think is what Jesus’ believed prayer to be, a way to step aside from the craziness of life and remember to be in relationship with God and with others. When we live a life that embodies prayer we are being mindful of our relationship with our God who loves us and binds us together, and mindful of loving our neighbors.

Just like any relationship there are many ways to pray and I invite you to search for the form of prayer that fits you the most. Perhaps it is reading scripture each day, taking a few moments to say the same prayer each day, following a devotional book, say the Lord’s Prayer, say a quick prayer when people cut you off in traffic, perhaps its sharing and praying for others through sharing on social media, but most especially to find something you do each and every day. By practicing praying each day you strengthen your love for God and for all those around you.

To help us to pray more as United Methodists in Helena we have created a Facebook Group where people can share their prayers throughout the week. This is a way for us to build a community of people in constant prayer for one another and our community. If you want to be a part of this please go to this web address and request to join the group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HelenaUMC/ All are welcome in this circle of prayer and community.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler



February 14 2016 Pastor’s Corner

Today is the first Sunday of Lent which is perhaps the oldest season of the church. Before Christmas was celebrated, Christians celebrated the Great Three Days or Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The death and resurrection of Jesus have always been at the heart of the Christian story. Gradually, the days leading up to the ‘Triduum’ were extended and the entire season became important as a time of preparation. At some point, the length of the season was set at forty days (probably reminiscent of Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the wilderness). The word itself – ‘Lent’ – comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.” So, just as spring is a time of preparing the soil for planting and growth, so is Lent a time Christians have set aside to till the soil of our lives in preparation to more fully follow Jesus.
 
For many of us, Lent has also traditionally involved personal discipline or practices. Here are a few suggestions of ways you might make this season special . . . there are countless more ideas than these. This is just to get you started!
 
Grace & Peace, Marianne
 
 
10. Try an electronic fast. Give up TV, Facebook, texting, tweeting, e-mail and all things electronic for one day every week. (Or everyday of Lent!) Use the time to read & pray.
 
9. Start a prayer rhythm. Each day of Lent, go to the Upper Room Prayer Wall and pray for another person. You can find the prayer wall at: http://prayer-center.upperroom.org/prayer-wall.
 
8. Go deeper into the Bible. You can perhaps begin by reading a psalm or reading through all four gospels over the course of Lent..
 
7. Forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it. Study a book on forgiveness, such as The Art of Forgiving by Lewis B. Smedes.
 
6. Give up soft drinks, fast food, tea or coffee. Give the money you save to help folks in a different part of the world who are in crisis.
 
5. Create a daily quiet time. Spend 10 minutes a day in silence and prayer. Read a daily devotional like the Upper Room (found in the foyer of the church) or online at http://devotional.upperroom.org/. You may find it can help you add spiritual practice to your daily life beyond Lent.
 
4. Cultivate a life of gratitude. Write someone a thank you letter each week and be aware of how many people have helped you along the way.
 
3. Participate in a Lent Photo-a-Day practice and pray each day with your camera in your hand.
 http://alivenow.upperroom.org/2016/01/22/lent-photo-a-day-practice/
 
2. Volunteer one hour or more each week with a local shelter, tutoring program, nursing home or Food Share.
 
1. Pray for others you see as you walk to and from classes or drive to and from work.


February 7 2016 Pastor’s Corner

First, let me affirm that it is truly a joy to be back at St. Paul’s! Between Lyle’s surgery in Missoula and my journey to the Holy Land with our large group over the past 3 weeks, I have been away from St. Paul’s for a month. Even for me it seems like a long time! Much has happened in our lives – yours and mine – and in the life of our church. Much has happened in the world. During my long trip home from Tel Aviv on Tuesday, I had plenty of time to think . . . and over and over, I pondered just how blessed I was to have a community like St. Paul’s to come home to!
 
Thanks so much for the many ways you have supported both Lyle and me as we have met the challenges of the past two months. Lyle’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent surgery happened quickly as you know. Your prayers and generosity have meant the world to us.
When we decided that I needed to accompany and lead the Holy Land journey as planned, we knew we would need extra support for Lyle while I was away. Again, you stepped up in ways that we can only describe as overwhelming and gracious. From phone calls to providing rides to bringing food, Lyle was well cared for . . . and we are continuing to enjoy the abundance of food you have provided!
 
In addition to the support of our congregation, our St. Paul’s staff has been amazing. Not only have they been supportive and helpful with the challenges in my life, they have been instrumental in helping our active congregation continue to thrive. I know that my absence over the past month has put additional pressure on our staff and they have risen to the occasion. I offer my gratitude to them all – Associate Pastor Tyler Amundson, Sue McNicol, Meladie Brandle, Renata Strauss, Lois Neal, Lynn Van Nice, Dave and Fay Buness, Nancy Trudell, Tanya Anderson, Ken Girton, Rob Bonnes and Phyllis Michelson.
 
The next weeks and months will hold new challenges as Lyle and I both adjust to new habits and a ‘new normal.’ We are grateful to share life with all of you in this community of faith.
 
Gratefully,
Marianne


January 24, 2016 Pastor’s Corner

Tomorrow night in the Helena Middle School Auditorium there will be presentation of Paper Tigers at 6 PM. After the film I will be on a panel of community members speaking to how we can respond to ACEs in our own community. The goal of tomorrow’s event is to get 100 people to additional training on ACEs. Through these trainings we hope to change the way our community relates to children in schools, social service agencies and in our general community to reduce ACEs and help those who have ACEs to overcome their adversity.

“Paper Tigers is an intimate look into the lives of selected students at Lincoln High School, an alternative school that specializes in educating traumatized youth. Set amidst the rural community of Walla Walla, WA, the film intimately examines the inspiring promise of Trauma Informed Communities – a movement that is showing great promise in healing youth struggling with the dark legacy of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES).”

Many of you know about our commitment during our 150th Jubilee to work with Intermountain and Childwise to explore ACEs (Learn more: stpaulshelena.org/aces-awareness-for-good). From the ACEs study we understand: There are 10 ACEs that are adverse experiences people might experience in their childhood. Four or more ACEs puts you at a higher risk for mental illness, chronic disease, and even early death. We may think that adverse experiences happen predominantly in cases of people in poverty but the stressors happen across socioeconomic lines. Montana ranks poorly with a majority of our children having 4 or more ACEs.

Over the last 4 months of studying ACEs I have become aware that ACEs is a language people of faith can use to let the community know what adverse experiences do to all children and to be clear that it happens right here in our hometown. This language then leaves people wanting to know how they can change this reality and every speaker I have heard says, “Adversity is not destiny.” The gospel message is that adversity is not the end, new life can happen, and we can work to help children and adults overcome ACEs. The truth we learn from ACEs is that we have to create community systems of healing in order to help people overcome this adversity.

I invite us as Jesus followers to listen and learn about this ACEs language, so we can continue to share it in our community along with the good news that new life is possible.

Enthusiastic Peace,

Pastor Tyler