Pastor’s Corner 10/6/2019

Happy Fall, Y’all!

        My favorite book growing up was Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. The titular character says excitedly: “I am so glad that I live in a world where there are Octobers.” I am inclined to agree. October is my favorite month. I love the colors on the trees, the crispness in the air, and yes–I’m not ashamed to admit it–pumpkin spice EVERYTHING!
        Another great part of October is World Communion Sunday. For those who might not know, World Communion Sunday occurs on the first Sunday of every October and is shared by many Christian denominations. The aim is to promote unity and cooperation among churches, through the practice of the Eucharist.
        All around the world, churches will celebrate Communion. Some will use wine, some will use grape juice. Some use wafers and others use King’s Hawaiian bread. Some will worship in grand cathedrals, others in straw huts. In different languages, in different liturgies, and with different elements, we will all testify to God’s grace, given freely to each and every one of us. God invites ALL who hunger and thirst, ALL who need healing and reconciliation. In a world of divisions, of us and them, of haves and have nots, the Table is our common ground.
        My prayer is that when we come to the table, we will be mindful and carry the spirit of “all.” I pray that we can take this spirit with us into our daily lives, that we may let the knowledge of grace lead us out into the world to serve others, particularly those most in need of food, shelter, and love. I echo Jesus’ prayer for his disciples in John 17:20-23:
20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, God, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Grace and Peace ,  

“Living Christian” by Angie Cejka

Living Christian

          When I was growing up in the forest of Michigan, my parents taught me two very valuable lessons: always be as independent and self-sufficient as possible, and when you have more than you need you should build a longer table, not a higher fence. They built our family on hard work and generosity – and even though they never took us to church, they taught us to live a Christian life. They lived it, too – my parents worked five jobs between the two of them. Our whole neighborhood was poor, and we often traded and bartered things instead of buying them For instance, we once traded taxidermy services in exchange for our neighbor’s help moving a woodstove into our basement. We rarely bought meat, choosing instead to farm, hunt, and fish; we grew a large garden and canned as much as we could. We shared our harvests with our neighbors, knowing that when we were in need, they would help us as we had helped them. I’ve always carried that message with me.   

          A little over one month ago, a gentleman came into the office here at St. Paul’s. He was a tall, thin veteran and while I could tell he was weary, I immediately sensed a level of peaceful dignity and solitude within him. He had come to us with a simple request: let him stay in the parking lot, in his van, while he got back on his feet and navigated the legal system for the next 45 days. His name is Daniel Laine, and he has been attending St. Paul’s for two years. I shook his hand and invited him to tell his story.
          Daniel, or Dal as he likes to be called, is an incredibly strong person. He has experienced so much in his 60+ years that he prefers to eschew the dramas that come with living rough. Every day, he comes into the office to fill up his water bottles and chat with the staff. Dal is a gentle, kind soul and always willing to lend a hand – on Tuesday, he helped a woman in the parking lot when her car battery was dead. He always offers his help when he sees us in need, and we are so thankful for him. 
          St. Paul’s will always be a home to those who need it. When we have the opportunity to help, our church builds that nice, long table and we invite those in need to sit and share our bounty.   
Angie Cejka
Office and Facilities Coordinator
Helena United Methodist Ministries

Pastor’s Corner 9/22/2019

The Skiing Pastor: Our Western Heritage

                As I feel the weather slightly shift, I am ready to ski! It has been a long year of waiting for my knee to heal and strengthen, and with my new, trusty knee brace made just for me, I am ready to tackle the mountain!
                And even though I am so excited for the possibility of Weekend Warrior Worship gathering regularly up at Great Divide Ski Area, I am definitely not the first pastor out West to connect with people through the great outdoors. John Lewis Dyer, “Father Dyer” was a circuit rider through the treacherous, snowy mountains of Colorado in the 1800s. He traveled through blizzards, often on skis, to mining camps and small towns speckling the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
               The pastor at Father Dyer UMC in Breckenridge, CO states, “everyone in Breckenridge knows not just about Father Dyer the person but also Father Dyer the church because this is where you can come to get a free meal. This is where you can come to be welcomed, accepted, and loved.”
               There weren’t churches in this area of Colorado until someone decided to trek the wilderness and build the relationships. Father Dyer was going to where the people were. He even gave away his gloves one winter day, guiding a group of people lost across a mountain pass. If Jesus was washing feet, Father Dyer was thawing feet out.
               No matter where we are, whether at home, out and about, in worship, or even at our place of work and play, we carry God’s love with us. The most important connections we make may not be in our church building on a Sunday morning. May we trek our world, especially here in the Wild West, where organized religion is not the most popular thing. May we go where the people are, and may we share an inclusive love that may be invisible everywhere else.
Peace and happy trekking!


Pastor’s Corner 9/15/2019

Pastor’s Corner

Hello again, everyone!
                We’re about to enter a sermon series that I’m extremely excited about. For the next several weeks, we’ll be discussing world religions. You see, my undergraduate degree is in religious studies. I remember when my Islamic traditions professor told us about a concept in Islam called the jahilyyah, the name given to the period of time before Islam came to be. Jahala means ignorance, but not only ignorance…willful ignorance. Bold ignorance. To give us a modern day example, my professor told us about a bumper sticker he saw, reading “Everything I Need to Know About Islam I Learned On 9/11.” That, he said, was jahala: willful, vicious ignorance.
                 We humans have a startling capacity for ignorance, which leads to a startling capacity for hatred. I have to think, however, that we also have a startling capacity for curiosity and knowledge, and a startling capacity for kindness. If we can be willfully ignorant, maybe we can be willfully and powerfully curious about others, about their faiths, their ways or life, and how we can relate to and respect each other as members of one big, beautiful human family. My prayer is that through this sermon series, we can begin to do just that.
Stay curious, friends.


About Blackie Nelson

                The Jazz Sunday musicians for today would like to dedicate our performance to our friend, mentor, and father, Blackie Nelson.
                Blackie was a consummate musician. Most folks in Helena remember him as a superb guitarist but he was also excellent on piano or bass. He played music (mostly Jazz) around Montana for many decades. When he passed away in August, he had been a member of the Musician’s Union for 66 years. When luminaries like singers Nancy King and Julie London came through Helena, Blackie was the one they wanted to back them in their performances.

                The selections chosen for today are all songs that Blackie loved to play and would suggest whenever he was put on the spot to choose the next tune for a band. But Blackie didn’t particularly like to call tunes. He preferred that other musicians decide on the music to be played. No matter what song was picked, Blackie always seemed to know it and would provide graceful and solid accompaniment with never a need to look at any music. He may have chosen not to be the “head” of the band but was always the “heart” of every group he played with. He will be greatly missed. Blackie’s guitar will be heard once again this morning in the capable hands of his son Ken Nelson as we play some of Blackie Nelson’s favorites.