Pastor’s Corner — Sept 24

The Power of Wonder Woman
 
When I lived in Choteau, a group of my friends and I would compete in a charity golf tournament each summer. It was to raise money for breast cancer research. My team chose the Wonder Woman logo for our shirts, and we wore pink capes. The capes didn’t fare well in the winds of the Rocky Mountain Front, nor for golfing. However, the shirts stuck, and they became a sort of power for all of us. Outside of the annual golf tournament, our shirts were worn regularly. My friends and I would see the shirt, and we would talk about the memories from golfing or working out or how much we loved wearing the shirt. When I am having a particularly stressful time, I have sometimes deliberately worn my Wonder Woman shirt for a little boost.
 
Wonder Woman, the character first appearing in 1941, stands for so much more than a superhero. Just like our simple black t-shirts stand for so much more than a Saturday spent together. Designed in the eye of the hurricane
 
that was WWII, the Wonder Woman character defeated the trope “damsel in distress” by being extraordinarily skilled in combat and technology from the Amazon. She was an ambassador and fought for justice. In fact, the writers drew from feminists of that time to build her character and story. For a short time in 2016, Wonder Woman was an honorary member of the United Nations as an ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls.
 
This character is, at the same time, unique and universal. Diana Prince (Wonder Woman) is all of the girls and women out there: full of potential and power, bundled up with the stories of all those before us. May we all remember the power of togetherness and the strength of unity. And may we always be symbols of justice.
 
 

Peace,

Pastor Sami



Pastor’s Corner – Sept 17

The infant Kal-El was put into a space ship and rocketed from the doomed planet Krypton to planet earth. His scientist father believed that the rays of earth’s yellow sun would grow miraculous power in his son. And it did. Kal-El was raised by a couple in Kansas. He became Clark Kent. As he matured and grew, empowered by the sun’s rays, he gained powers beyond the average man. His kryptonian cells served as living solar batteries that fueled his super powers. Clark Kent became “faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound … He became Superman!”

I love that concept that the rays of the sun created super powers in Clark Kent. I believe we all have super powers too, fueled by the Holy Spirit. Each person is created in the image of God. God is awesome, so each person must be too! Each of us is gifted and special. Yes, we are flawed, have struggles and shortcomings AND we are beautiful, amazing, and awesome. The qualities that make each of us unique are our super powers. What is your super power? How can you use your super power to fight crime? To bring peace? To make this world a better place? To do good? Like Superman, we have kryptonian cells which serve as solar batteries fueling our super powers…our receptor cells for the Holy Spirit. You and the Holy Spirit together make a dynamic duo! It is easy to feel inadequate in our society today. When you feel inadequate or unworthy, remember you have the power of the Holy Spirit available to you. Claim your position as one half of a dynamic duo. Turn to the Holy Spirit to empower you.

The apostle Paul understood this. He knew that he was an ordinary man, but when filled with the Holy Spirit, he could do amazing things. You might say he knew the Holy Spirit fueled his super powers. He also knew this power was available to everyone. So, he prayed people would be filled with power. One example is his prayer for the believers in Ephesus. It goes like this, “I pray that out of God’s glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” -Ephesians 3:16-20 NIV

Next time you feel powerless or inadequate, remember you are half of a dynamic duo! You are a uniquely awesome creation of God. The power of the Holy Spirit is available to you and will work in and through you to do more than you could ever imagine. Let’s partner with the Holy Spirit and exercise our super powers to change the world for good. Up, up and away!
 
 

Pastor Patti



Pastor’s Corner – Sept 10

Holy History, Batman!

Today we are beginning a new sermon series called “Dynamic Duos!” where each week we will explore different duos in the Old Testament and their relevance for us today. This phrase first appeared in the October 31, 1940 issue of DC Comics titled “The Case of the Joker’s Crime Circus” in Batman #4. The line reads:
 

…and as if on cue, the dynamic duo leaps into the room…

 

 

 

This phrase became the unofficial title of Batman and Robin when Batman added Robin as his trusty sidekick. This duo changed the comic’s path in many ways. The Dark Vigilante was now a father figure to the orphan boy, making the characters even more relatable. By 1949, the duo was so popular, they got their own film series called “Batman and Robin” primarily based on the idea of pairing and the power of togetherness.

 

The Old Testament is bursting with dynamic duos, and each have different origin stories, different emotions and struggles, different gifts. Some are difficult stories to hear; some are empowering. All of them are relatable, though. The scriptures are full of lessons and stories that help us connect with God, and we hope that this sermon series does that.

As far as Patti and myself being superheroes, we are unsure. But we do know that we are excited to be working together, bringing dynamics to our community of Helena and our two congregations that are unique and faithful. As we explore pairs and connections in the Bible these next weeks, we invite you all to explore the connections you have in your lives. Where do you see God working in your own relationships and connections? What are ways you can be a hero?
 
 

Peace,

Pastor Sami



Pastor’s Corner – Sept 3

Following Jesus is hard.

As your outgoing pastor, I am going to be as honest with you as I can. This Christian life we have decided to follow, and this way of knowing a God of love, justice and peace is not designed to be an easy path. We are called to “love God” and “love our neighbor.” The simplicity of this commandment found in scripture has a pleasant sound, but its consequences can deafen us unless we allow them to move us through our own awkwardness. My new congregation in Billings is fond of saying “And everything else is just a footnote” after this commandment.
 
Here is my footnote: when I came back to Helena 6 years ago, St. Paul’s called me to reach out to young adults (18 until you decide you aren’t young) in the community. Within the first year I had realized something, “Unless we shift our entire church culture, my efforts to meet and encourage young adults in their faith will be fruitless.” Shifting our church culture means we need to shift the culture, so that people of all ages can serve in leadership, grow in their faith and do it all side by side. In our world, the divisions of difference have grown, not on purpose, but by convention. Ages are separated by institution walls: Children in schools. Older adults in retirement homes. Adults by differences in culture, class, status, and even by the fact that you can go to work and home and never see a person outside either location.
 
The path of Jesus for the church is going to be breaking down walls to reach people with love. This isn’t complicated and I think these words embody this sentiment for the church, “It sounds trite but it is true: If you want to move from handout to ministry, if you eschew the world of “drive by charity,” if you are ready to stop “playing church” and want to “be the church,” then pray about it. If you belong to a local congregation that wants to make a difference, and you wonder what God has in store for your future, then pray about it. Pray for God to direct your congregation to ministry with, not to, the poor and marginalized. Pray for God to open your eyes and the eyes of your congregation to see those who experience marginalization among you.”
 
One of my favorite ministry moments in Helena is still one of the simplest. Leaving a coffee shop with a friend he said, “Can you pray for me?”
“Sure,” I responded.
(Awkward silence).
“Now?”
“Yes!” my friend urges.
“I haven’t done this on the street before.”
“Same as if you are doing it inside a church.”
 
Our communities in Montana, across the west are full of people who have no community of faith, and many are searching for meaning in a community who will help them remember Jesus’ great commandment. Can we get through our awkward and follow the hard path? God willing my hope is to prayerfully attempt this work in Billings. Will you join me in this work? Will you work with your incredible new pastors and do this work of the church in Helena?
 
 
Enthusiastic Peace,
Pastor Tyler
 
 
P.S. God likes awkward people, and most often is just waiting to work with us to change the world in love.