Pastor’s Corner March 4, 2018

The people of St. Paul’s are very generous! Thank you for all of the ways you extend your time, spirit, and resources to help others. One example is this week, as the donations have been pouring in to support those in the Blackfeet United Methodist Parish. As you know, they have been hit hard by winter storms this year, to the point that they are in crisis, unable to get food, supplies, and propane. Last week we initiated a disaster response plan and called for donations. We are partnering with the Yellowstone Annual Conference and UMCOR, our United Methodist disaster relief agency. The response is incredible! Supplies have arrived, or are on the way as we sit in worship this morning. A special thank you to Debbie Irby, who is coordinating our efforts. (here is a picture of donations we received in one 5-hour time-span. We had piles of this daily all week!)

A reminder, next week is UMCOR Sunday. A day we take a special offering to support the administrative costs of operating UMCOR so that donations the rest of the year can go 100% toward the specific crisis. I encourage you to contribute as you are able.

Another upcoming example of your generosity is the mission team we will be sending to Brazil, April 6-18, led by Don Skillman. The team is going to Boa Vista, Roraima to work with our friend of many years, Pastor Augusto Cardias. A large room will be constructed by our team which will be used as a place to feed refugees from Venezuela and also will be part of a school that Pastor Augusto hopes to open for children with special needs. There is nothing like that available in Boa Vista currently. The Venezuelan refugee problem is enormous. Augusto’s church feeds several hundred people every week and the need is much larger. On Saturdays, he brings busloads of children and their mothers to the church for recreation and a simple meal. It’s a few hours of rest and play for people who are in a truly desperate situation. We’ll be conducting a medical mission during our time in Boa Vista as well. When there in January this year, with the help of two nurses and Augusto’s wife (Marcia), Don evaluated and treated 487 people in 12 hours. There are several ways you can support the mission team. They are accepting donations of ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and vitamins for adults and children. Please don’t donate “gummi vitamins” because they melt together into a big glob! These items can be left in the church office, please. They are accepting financial donations to support the costs of construction materials, food, and medication. There is some room for children’s clothing and small toys, too. The climate is very warm, so light T-shirts and/or shorts are what they wear. And of course, please pray for good health and safe travels for the team.

There are countless other ways you each put your faith into action and offer love and compassion to others locally, nationally, and globally. Together we are bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth, as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer each week.

 

Walking on the path of grace,

Pastor Patti



Pastor’s Corner – February 25, 2018

The United Methodist Church is in a discernment process around theological conflicts we have. We are seeking ways to find unity amidst our diversity. A challenging task. The Bishops have formed and empowered a Commission On A Way Forward consisting of laity and clergy to do this work. The Commission is expected to bring recommendations to the Council of Bishops in February of 2019. As they continue the work, we are invited to support them in prayer. This week, Bishop Hee-Soo Jung of the Wisconsin Annual Conference, invited us all to join in the following prayer: 
 
Daily Prayer by Steve Zekoff:
“Everlasting God, we pray that your Spirit’s power permeates The United Methodist Church as new possibilities are considered by those designated to discern our way into the future. Protect us from the mentality of presuming our perspective is superior when other members of your church experience your presence and message differently than we do. Open us to a creative outcome from our current struggles, one which surrounds all with your protection. Help us to recognize your love expressed through leaders and followers, the vulnerable as well as the powerful, the quiet as well as the noisy. May we feel your protective presence with us as we walk alongside the diversity of believers who make up Christ’s body. Guide us into your future with grace. Amen.”
 
Walking on the Path of Grace – Patti


Pastor’s Corner – February 18, 2018

Why Jesus? This is the title of the book that we will be pulling our sermons from during Lent. William Willimon asks us in the introduction, “Who is Jesus?” If you met someone who had never heard of Jesus before, how would you tell him or her about Jesus? Willimon describes Jesus as a Jewish man who worked in Judea. He called disciples, told stories, had compassion for the suffering, was a notorious troublemaker who went to a lot of parties, and was tortured to death after a short run as a wandering rabbi. But is that all Jesus is? Why do billions of people follow Jesus? Why do people sing songs to Jesus? Why have great cathedrals been erected and masterpieces of art created to honor Jesus? Who was Jesus? Who is Jesus?

Maybe a more important question is, “Who is Jesus to you? What difference does Jesus make in your life?”

We will spend the next six Sundays exploring who Jesus was, and what difference he makes in our lives today. I was intrigued by this book which expanded my thinking about Jesus. As one who has grown up in the church and pursued a theological education, you might think I have it all figured out. But I do not. And that is one of the compelling things to me about this life of faith in Jesus. We never arrive. There is always room to grow in our understanding and in our living. Willimon concludes his Introduction with this statement, “Be warned: in reading this book, you are taking a risk of getting discombobulated, commandeered, and befriended by the most interesting person in the world.” Will you join me on this journey with Jesus this Lent season?

It is my hope that as we journey toward Easter this year, we will get to know Jesus better and allow ourselves to be transformed.

Walking on the path of grace,
Pastor Patti



Pastor’s Corner – February 11, 2018

LENT: A Holy Season of the Year

What is Lent? According to our United Methodist tradition:

“Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.” The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry. Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter” and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.” http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/what-is-lent-and-why-does-it-last-forty-days

I think of Lent as that season in our Christian year to grow deeper in faith; through study, devotion, fasting, service, or prayer. Historically, in the early church, it was a time to teach new believers the doctrines of the church in preparation for baptism. Thus, traditionally, many churches, including ours, offer special studies during Lent. Sami and I will be preaching from a book called Why Jesus? by William H. Willimon. The premise is that Jesus is the most fascinating person in the world who has made a huge impact. How do we describe Jesus? Who was he? What did he accomplish? What difference does that make in our lives today? I was intrigued as I read this book at how much more I have to learn about Jesus. I will be leading a study in this book on Wednesday evenings at Covenant. Join us for a soup supper and discussion. All are welcome. We have several other studies going and starting that could help deepen your faith. See if any sound intriguing to you.

Lent is also a season historically for fasting or other spiritual practices. How might you draw closer to God through taking on a new spiritual practice?
 
Perhaps fasting from a particular food, or from social media. Or taking on a new prayer practice. On Wednesday evenings in Lent, Sami and Dominic will be preparing interactive prayer stations based on the Psalms. They will be available from 6:30-7:00 in the St. Paul’s sanctuary. There is also a community sing following, which explores music as a way to draw closer to God and one another. Is there a spiritual practice that might help you focus on God?

Or perhaps, you don’t need to add one more thing to your already busy life. Perhaps to draw closer to God you need to stop doing something. I talked to a colleague today who has put all meetings and small groups on hiatus for Lent in order that his church people might have time to rest, to be with their families, to take up a new hobby, to renew their spirit, to invest in relationships at work or in the neighborhood. Is there something you need to stop doing, in order to draw closer to God?

Or perhaps, in order to grow in faith, you need to take the focus off of yourself and onto others in the form of service. Is there some way you can intentionally help others this Lent season? Jesus constantly taught us to be with the poor, the lost, the lonely, the sick. How might you share the love of God with others in service?

Lent, a holy season of the year. What might you do or not do, in order to draw closer to God over the next 40 or so days? I pray as we embark on this season that we might discover the abundant life Jesus promises each one of us.

Walking on the path of grace,
Pastor Patti