Pastor’s Corner – Feb. 26

Intermountain here in Helena is an unexpected lesson.  This organization offers incredible gifts of healing and guidance to children and families living through mental health challenges.  Intermountain grew out of a need at the turn of the century to provide a home for children who were left to fend for themselves.  Behind that history is the story of Rev. Brother Van Orsdel who is said to have been in tears pleading at the Annual Conference for the Methodist churches in the region.  The public tears of a grown man and the vital work of women deaconesses have become the hope of more children and families than we can count. 

Hear the words of one parent who has seen hope in the work of Intermountain:

“I am a single parent of two adoptive children, one of whom has suffered with the emotional/behavioral chaos of attachment disorder since early childhood.  At one point I was having to call our local police to help restrain my daughter during her violent behavioral outbursts.  I was at the brink of losing my family (and possibly my life). 

Now, after 18 months of residential treatment at Intermountain, we are an intact family ready to thrive.  My daughter is returning home with the skills to manage her feelings and behaviors long before they get to the rage that previously overtook her mind and body.  We as a family have learned important skills for success.  This program not only changes lives, it literally saves them!”

Last year Intermountain treated 1334 children and youth, and made a difference in the health of Montana communities.  This Lent we are asking members, friends and you as the disciples of St. Paul’s to make a difference by financially supporting Intermountain through a spiritual practice.

Our Lenten focus is “Unexpected Lessons: The Journey of Discipleship.”  We will be learning from the great stories of the gospels to remind us how God can surprise us with unexpected lessons from the stories in our lives.  This is no ordinary path we follow.  In this spirit you will be given the opportunity to fill blessing cans for Intermountain.  These cans will be accompanied by a Blessing Guide to a Lenten Thank Offering.  Unexpectedly we are using a retro St. Paul’s guide from the 1990’s, so enjoy the throwback information on it.  Each day there is a practice on this guide that will ask you to consider your blessings and invite you to give from your abundance like “10 cents for each slice of bread in your house, pray for those who scavenge for food.”  It is a simple activity to do with friends, family or kids. You can find the Lenten Guide here:  Lent Bag

 

We invite you to journey with us through the unexpected.



Pastor’s Corner – Feb. 19

In just two weeks, March 2 – 5, our church will become a beehive of activity as the team members from the Women’s Walk to Emmaus move in and set up what promises to be an amazing weekend of spiritual growth. The following weekend, March 9 – 12, the team members for the Men’s weekend will host a similar weekend, designed to foster spiritual reflection and community. For 30 years, St. Paul’s has provided a home for these amazing events that, every year, touch many people deeply.

So, just what is a ‘Walk to Emmaus’? You might remember the story from Luke’s gospel. After the death of Jesus, we are told that two disciples walk from Jerusalem to the small town of Emmaus. They talk about the events of the past days and their fears and concerns about what the future held. And, “while they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and walked with them.” (Luke 24:15) The story then relates how, in conversation with each other and with Jesus, they came to new understandings and new insights about their life and their call. It is one of the most hauntingly beautiful stories from the Bible.

Rooted in that story, the walk to Emmaus weekend is an experience of Christian spiritual renewal and formation. Through times of prayer, talks, great food and community experiences, participants have an opportunity to meet Jesus on their road of life in a new way as God’s grace and love are shared through other believers – clergy and lay alike. The weekend begins on Thursday evening and concludes on Sunday late afternoon. Following the three-day experience, participants have opportunities to join with others in small groups to support each other in their ongoing spiritual journey.

The overall objective of the Emmaus experience is to inspire, challenge, and equip the local church members for Christian action in their homes, churches, communities and places of work. Emmaus lifts up a way for our grace-filled lives to be lived and shared with others. If you have never participated in a Walk to Emmaus weekend and are interested in considering it this year, please call our office so we can put you in contact with the lay leadership of the weekend.

And, most of all, thanks people of St. Paul’s, for your warm welcome. You have always helped us make room for these important weekends, even though it is sometimes a bit inconvenient. This is one of the ways we make good on our mission of being ‘grounded in hospitality’ so we can help provide a place for people to ‘grow in faith, give in service and go in mission.’

Grace & Peace,
Marianne



Pastor’s Corner – Feb. 12

 
Ubi Caritas
Where charity and love are, God is there.
Christ’s love has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice and be pleased in Christ.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And may we love each other with a sincere heart.
Amen
– Mary Daly, Theologian
 
Last week in my sermon, I mentioned that I have been in conversation with people who are struggling with the current political environment in which we live. There are many people who are part of minority groups who are feeling deep fear. I believe they are scared for good reason, in December we saw white supremacists in our own state begin to target the Jewish communities with anti-Jewish propaganda and a statement that they wanted to carry out an armed protest. The community of Whitefish and many others in our state took an appropriate stand and said, “Not in our state!” I thank God for the success of these stands to put an end to this hate for the time being.
 
These conversations with people who are struggling happen because they know I am a safe person to talk to, and this is all due to St. Paul’s reputation of working to be open to all people. When people find out I am a Pastor at St. Paul’s they have a sense of trust that we can be asked questions about how to stay safe in our community. First, I want to thank each of you for continuing that legacy in Helena. Second, I want to invite you to not be afraid to identify yourself as a member of St. Paul’s in the community. People are looking for safe spaces and it provides them an opportunity to share openly their concerns about our world and country.
 
During the 11 O’clock service today, the choir will sing the words of Ubi Caritas in Latin. The chorus, printed here, is a part of an ancient chant of the Christian Church. It is often used as a prelude to the time in the Christian year we celebrate Christ kneeling to wash his disciples’ feet. It reminds us that God comes to serve us, and we are called to serve God. As you read or listen to these words today, say a prayer for the people in our community that are feeling fear. Remember, whenever there is fear and we offer our sincere heart to those in fear, it will root those present in the Love of God. We, as Christians, are called to believe God can help us overcome fear and conflict, and in this moment of history I believe this is what we are being asked by our neighbors to help them do.
 
Enthusiastic Peace,,
Pastor Tyler


Pastor’s Corner – Jan. 29

Today at St. Paul’s we celebrate both a Baptism and New Member Sunday. For today’s Pastor’s Corner, I thought I’d share just a bit about what these two important events are all about.
 
For infant or a child’s baptism, our custom is to have interested parents contact the office. From there, they meet with our Coordinator of Children’s Ministry, Lynn Van Nice. She reviews the baptismal service with them and then schedules the baptism. Families can choose either service on almost any Sunday. (We do not offer ‘private’ baptisms because baptism by nature is not a private sacrament. It is the public act of welcoming a child into the Christian community.) We also make scheduling a baptism as simple as possible because, as we say in the ritual itself, ‘baptism celebrates God’s free gift of grace, offered to us all.” Our hope is that the parents of the ‘baptizee’ commit to raise the child in the church, learning to follow Jesus – either with us or in another Christian community.
One of the things many people do not realize is that baptism is the one sacrament almost universally recognized across Christian denominations. Most mainline Christian churches do not re-baptize. In fact, contrary to the ways we sometimes talk, people are not ‘baptized Catholic’ or ‘baptized Methodist.’ When we are baptized, we become part of the Christian family and subsequently choose to live that out in a particular community or congregation – Episcopalian, Presbyterian, United Methodist, etc.

So that leads to the concept of membership. What does it mean to become a member of a church? First of all, membership presumes baptism. Membership presumes that somewhere, at some time, a person was baptized and that now he or she is choosing to live into that baptism by joining with a particular group of people (like the people of St. Paul’s). For me, membership is about choosing to live and grow my faith with a community that challenges and nourishes me. Frankly, I don’t think membership is something God requires so much as it is something we need. We need each other as we struggle to do the hard work of living faithfully as followers of Jesus. The one thing we ask of people who wish to join St. Paul’s is that they attend an Amazing Grace class. It is a one evening class taught by one or both pastors during which we share some history of Methodism, and more specifically, how we at St. Paul’s live into our faith. It is a good way to meet other people, share insights, ask questions, and get just a bit more familiar with this church community.

I extend a warm welcome today to Cassidy and her family and to our new members, Maggie and Lee Tickell and Dennis and Laurie Mock. Their commitments remind us of our own. Together may we live into the vision of Jesus, becoming the beloved community, committed to loving and serving all.

 

Grace and peace,
Marianne