St. Paul's United Methodist Church
Saturday, November 17, 2018

Worship

 

 
We invite you to worship with us each Sunday!
You will be warmly welcomed as you experience
the love and the grace of God through our
Sunday worship services and teaching.

   

 

 
SUNDAY WORSHIP SCHEDULE
TWO SERVICES - 8:30 AM & 11 AM
 
 
The folks of St. Paul’s offer worship in which we honor tradition, are challenged with the Christian journey, celebrate the Word and share our stories in the intimate setting that is St. Paul's Church. Parents are encouraged to bring their children to worship for the Children’s Celebration at each service. If you and your family are searching for meaningful worship and discipleship, join us for these opportunities to explore your faith. St. Paul’s is a spiritual home for people of all ages and backgrounds and for families, traditional and non-traditional, where creativity and passion for the Gospel flourish and we are bound by the love of God that draws us together.

 

PASTORAL LETTER


Wednesday, November 14, 2018
 

 

Dear Saints of St. Paul’s Church,

Today, the week before we celebrate Pledge/Commitment Sunday on November 18, we come to the end of our five-part exploration of membership vows: (1) Prayers; (2) Presence; (3) Gifts; (4) Service; and (5) Witness. This fifth vow was added at the direction of the 2008 General Conference, so our Hymnal Membership liturgies (published in 1989) do not include it. Like the third membership vow, Gifts, this one tends to have a singular and, for many Christians, negative, meaning. When I grew up in Southern Baptist congregations from the age of 7-18 in North Carolina, witnessing meant going from door-to-door in our neighborhoods and asking people if they died that night, did they know for sure if they would go to heaven or hell in the afterlife (confessing their sins and professing faith in Jesus would assure them of eternal life in heaven). Not many people did this, by the way, and my family never did, though I have enjoyed many conversations with people (family, friends, and strangers) about the love of Jesus.

So let’s get beyond the scare tactics and impersonal tracts that have been associated with the word witness, and think together of the wealth of possibilities involved in this final membership vow. In our society, to witness means not only to see an event, but to report what you saw, most often in a courtroom. To witness, then, means to tell a particular kind of story that will allow others to see and to know something you have experienced and in which they are interested. A witness, then, takes careful notice of meaningful events, paying careful attention and remembering the details of the experience so that they can tell the story in such a way as to draw others into that experience.

To honor this vow, then, we pledge ourselves first of all to be awake and to pay careful attention to God’s movement in our world and in our lives, knowing that a time will come later when someone will need to hear the story of God’s Way in our life. We live in constant anticipation of God’s presence, and we learn to recognize the many signs of God that we might have easily missed at other times in our lives. Then we prepare to tell the story, rehearsing the details, allowing God’s presence to impact our lives and the choices we make, to live in concert with God’s presence in the world. And having prepared ourselves, we are ready when someone needs to hear a witness that they are not alone or forgotten – that god hears their cries and has sent us to bear the light of God’s presence, hope and love.

1 Peter 3:15 puts it this way:

Simply proclaim the Lord Christ holy in your hearts, and always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you have. (NJB)

I love that verse. No tracts, or scare tactics – just the living hope, love, and grace of the living, risen Jesus Christ, the Savior of this world. And we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son (1 John 1:14). So we can tell this story of hope to anyone who needs hope – a member of our family, a coworker, a neighbor, or friend, and perhaps especially a stranger who becomes a friend. We are not ashamed to tell this story, of love that transforms our lives and our world into a place where God’s will is perfectly done. A place where hope and grace and love flow like a never-ending stream.

I love to tell the story. Don’t you?

Your Partner in Christ,