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Plans? Who's got plans?

November 4, 2020 “What happens here, doesn’t stay here…”

Dear Church Family,

Growing up and in my young adulthood, I played piano at our home church. I wasn’t great at it; however, it was an honor to play and the organist at the time, Dr. Alice, was so skilled and talented - it was great to get to play with and learn from her. It was then I learned well the chorus, “Shalom.” Our home church sang the chorus as our benedictory response every Sunday. “Shalom to you now, Shalom my friends, may God’s full mercies, bless you my friends. In all your living and through your loving, Christ be your Shalom, Christ be your Shalom.”

Musically, this hymn was written differently than most hymns in our hymnal. This hymn started on a down beat (you played the first note or chord and the congregation came in on the second note or second beat). It was almost if you said, take a breath in on the first beat and breathe out on the second. Breath in shalom, breath out shalom.

Shalom is an ancient Hebrew word which has a wide range of meanings, all in which we were asked to wish for all those gathered with us and the world around us as we sang. The word shalom translates to peace, wholeness, welfare and goodness. Something God has given us all, not from the outside world, but placed within us as the prophet Jeremiah reminded us as is recorded in Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

It is well-documented that Jeremiah didn’t believe God meant from the community around us. Instead, Jeremiah and Biblical Scholars tell us, they believe what he was speaking of was something that comes from within us. The “shalom to you” is a reminder, breath, it comes from within you. Our hope and our dreams don’t come from the world around us, they come from within us. God’s peace given to us, doesn’t come from the world around us, it comes from within us.

On Sunday, I was invited to be a part of a friend’s Ecclesiastical Council in Arizona via Zoom. As we were awaiting the gathering to be called to order, I could see the look on her face from my screen and I sent her a private message and reminded her to breathe. Afterwards, when we spoke, she said she was thankful for that reminder as she hadn’t realized until I said that, that she wasn’t really breathing. What she meant, was and I could tell, she wasn’t taking any deep breaths and letting go of the tension. She was trying to be in control of what was around her, questions awaiting her and she wasn’t giving it all up to God. As she awaited the start of what was the review and questions of her that would come following the culmination of four years of work, she needed to remember where the work came from, from within, from something God had gifted her. “I know the plans I have for you…” This is all that stood between her and her ordination, this final affirmation by peers. So I said, remember to breathe, a signal she knew, the shalom she could connect.

All too often I hear people around me lamenting this or that or something else that is going on, basement people, one of my mentors used to call them. People who said you can’t, you won’t, your mama couldn’t, your daddy couldn’t, you aint going to. And then there’s the balcony people, the ones who aren’t looking for the negative, aren’t trying to always play the “devils advocate” roll. Instead they are calling out “shalom.” Remember, you breathe in and breathe out shalom, it is within you, God put it there. You are in control of the peace that no one can separate you from.

God promised a life of shalom, something which does not depend on outward circumstances but on inward vision. For us to live in shalom, we need to be able to trust God’s purposes even in the midst of the most trying circumstances. We have a choice. I don’t know about you, I can’t answer for you. However, I am choosing to trust that God’s plans always contain a seed of hope-filled shalom and I’m going to sing it out to remind others of the same opportunity they have, Christ be your Shalom. Especially these days.

As children of God, as followers of Christ, it is our responsibility to recognize the shalom, the gift God has given us and then live in to it reminding others they have it too. We all do.

Shalom to you,

Pastor Tim

In our daily prayers…

Please keep in your prayers this day: The Arnold family as Chris continues his deployment in a peace-keeping mission. Please also continue keep Fred Greenawalt and family in your prayers as Fred’s health continues to decline. We ask for prayers this day and week for Steve Brown as he faces surgery this day, for my mom, Myrtle Hogan in her surgery today, for Amy Snider in her surgery on Friday, for the doctors, nurses and caregivers for them all. We lift Greyson, Amanda and David in our prayers as Greyson is in Geisinger Danville awaiting tests and medical plans. We lift Tina Reid and Peggy Reminsnider in our prayers as they face health issues as well as their families, and John and Barb Dramozos in prayer as John continues to be hospitalized at UPMC Williamsport. And I ask you to join me in prayer for our church and church family, our community and our nation this day and the days ahead.

Please remember to either join or update the prayers on St. Paul’s Love and Prayers Facebook page, send an email or call the church office with updates or requests that we together may pray as a community of faith.

We need your input…

Last week, I spoke of how we would gather this past Sunday in our first attempt to open worship to members and family. We did so with a few lessons learned and overall, felt good about the ways in which we were able to meet and the safety precautions we took.

The Way Forward Team met this week to review and discuss how we did this past Sunday as well as how we are returning to worship and what that could look like, especially during Advent and Christmas. We can assume what people want and what will work for others, however as we discussed, it would be best if we had input from our members and friends to enable us to make informed decisions.

Attached is a link to a survey and we earnestly ask for your input. The survey comprised of four, short, multiple-choice questions. Survey questions include ways in which will help drive our planning as we move forward. Please take just a few moments and answer these questions posed by the Way Forward Team. We need your response by Monday, November 9. The results will be compiled and shared with the Consistory so they may work with Pastor Tim, who will work with our worship leadership team to help create safe ways to worship this coming season.

Please click this link to take the survey:

Christmas Pageant News… Your talents…Colleen Franciscus and Russ Wynn will be working to organize one of the most unique Christmas Pageants in the history of Christmas Pageants. Soon, we will come to you to ask for your family participation in this year’s pageant. It will have a bit of a different look, however the story and music will ring true. Families will be asked to participate, playing roles in the pageant and filming it from home while special music and carols will be added to aid in full participation as we tell the story of Christ’s birth once more, all together. Once all is put together you we will broadcast it out for members, family and friends via our social media and live stream feeds. We hope everyone who can will participate!

News from home…

The floor is ours…The second floor of our Education Building continues to get a facelift. Today, the last coat of polyurethane is being applied to the four individual rooms that surround the atrium. After it “cures,” we will begin to clean and reset those rooms for use. Included in this phase of remodel is the Nursery, two Sunday School rooms and a “music library/room.” The Church moves forward in these days with work around our home. The soup is on…soup is being made in the next few days to fill more than 200 quarts of soup sold this year during our online Saint Paul’s soup Sale. When the times demanded we do the annual soup sale differently, we did. We came up with alternative ways for this great annual mission fund raiser to be conducted smart and safe. Watch for news of the final totals for this year’s sale. The bells ring out…after welcoming 30 people safely in worship for All Saints Sunday and the new Carillon dedication on Sunday, November 1, the bells have been ringing since. The bells ring out striking the hour and half hour from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and hymns are played at 9 a.m., noon, 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. daily. Currently the hymns being played are thematic to Thanksgiving, and starting November 29 the community will be treated to Advent Hymns. Our new system allows us to choose random hymns or assign hymns to each hymn time. It is with grateful hearts that we continue to celebrate and remember those who have gone before us through signals of hope in the community around us.

Saint Paul’s Coffee Club is currently taking orders for the Fair-Trade products. All proceeds benefit our Mission Fund and all purchases go to benefit independent farmers. Order forms are available to be emailed to you or you may download from the church website. You may then turn in your order form via email or to the church office. Orders will be filled with the stock we have, until we run out and then we will place a bulk order.

Order cut-off each month is 3 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month. Payment is due when order is placed. We will notify you of the pick-up date and time. 

You may pay for your orders via a check made to SPUCC or Easytithe.

Christian Education (click on Zoom link:

· Sundays with Dave and Friends – 9:15 weekly (a Bible Study on Revelation)

· Monday Morning Preacher – 10:30 a. m. weekly (Let’s talk about Sunday’s text)

· Wednesday Musings and Theology – 6:30 p.m. weekly (Book study, see description below)

· Non-Zoom daily devotions with “Faithful Families”

What happens here doesn’t stay here (ways to connect in the community):

· Fresh Express (2nd & 4th Thursdays each month)

· Fall Lawn / Yard Clean-up

· Painting, Cleaning and Organizing at the Church

· Pantry Remodeling at the church

· Fall Family Fun Packets

· The Community Soup Sale (early November)

· Community Thanksgiving Baskets

· Equal Exchange Coffee Sale

· CARE team Goodies and Meals

Reach out to learn more about these and many other opportunities at the church!

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