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St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church
2860 East Market Street, Warren, Ohio   44483
330-394-5741
Office email:   stpaulwarrenoh@aol.com
Office Hours 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Pastor Winters Cell:  330-469-6296

May 31, 2020

Praying for members with medical challenges:  Diana Bartlett, Rodger Bartlett, Elaine Benka, Ron Benka, Laurie Czoka, Jerry Groves, Stephanie Groves, Nancy Hall, Carolyn Marsh, Carol Null, Jerry Null, Roy Seibert, Jane Shaw, Ken Wareham, Jerry Wareham, April Williams, Andrea Wollam

Remembering those who are home bound:  Pastor Richard Bowen, Geneveive Costello, Jim Illencik, Jean Maurice, Harriette Shaffer

Remembering those with special needs:  Ted Buch, Gini Cage, Cora Campbell, Cindy Crisafi, Connie Fowler, Bryan Giocondi, Roxanne Meeker, Sharri Olson, John Prew, Mary Lou Robertson, Cindy Robinson, Scotty Santimarino, Ondine Shiau, Alton Smith, Rev. Paul Swartz, Dean Voye, Mark Voye, Bob Webb

Remembering those in the Military:  Jonathan Benka, Danielle Greenhill, Kirk Groves, Michael Maradin

The Altar Flowers are given in memory of Gene Cravotta by Debbie Cravotta.

Visit us on the web at:  www.stpaulwarrenoh.org
On Facebook at:  www.facebook.com/stpaulwarrenoh
At:  You Tube St Paul Warren Oh
At:  WFMJ.com Community tab then Faith Services Tab
(or at https://www.drund.com/wfmj-streams/) Search for St Paul Lutheran Church

Prayer for a Pandemic – Cameron Bellm, a blogger who lives in Seattle, Washington
May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country, let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
Amen.

ConfirmationToday we want to acknowledge five youth from our joint catechism class who have completed their preparation for confirmation.  Congratulations to Sarah Durf, Brooke Frazzini, Dominic Frazzini, Kaitlyn Steuer, and Brycen Prasky (Living Lord).  We are so very proud of their participation in our program and their diligence for two years of service, fellowship, and study.  Today they will receive the sacrament of Affirmation of Faith.  If you are able, please come to the drive-by confirmation parade today in their honor at St. Paul Church from 11:45 am to 12:15 pm.  Kudos to our young people!

Work Day PlannedTim Martin is asking for help on Saturday, June 6, between 8:00 am and 12:00 pm.  The 100 bushes around our church need to be trimmed.  Many hands are needed.  All work will be done outdoors that day and social distance will be respected.  Please call/text Tim at 330-506-9214 if you are able to help.  Thank you.

Communion Sunday Coming:  Next Sunday, June 7, is the first Sunday of the month, so it is a communion Sunday.  We will be live-streaming the worship service at 10:30.  You are invited to drive-up in your car between 11:45 am and 12:15 pm and receive the bread and wine (with a prayer service) to be received at your dining table at home.  One note, when you open the package, you will find that the communion wafer is under a cellophane which is on top of the sealed grape juice container.

Council MeetingThe Council of St. Paul Church will be meeting next Monday, June 8, in Cassel Hall at 6:00 pm.  Our business will be to review and approve the recommendations of the Re-entry team.  It is hoped that we will return to in-person worship on June 14.  You will receive a letter and a copy of the protocols as soon as Council meets and gives their approval.

Thank You:  Thanks to Tim and Kim Schubert, who have arranged for and donated lawn care for the church property.  There is a big difference and we are “looking good” thanks to this lawn care and the mowing kept up by Tim Martin.  Every bit helps.

ST. PAUL YOUTH UPDATE FROM STACEY ALTIERE

While our younger children have been busy completing crafts and forwarding them to our members, the older students have been working on their own little project for Shepherd of the Valley in Howland!  The students have been making cards, coloring pictures, and making little odds and ends to show some love and support to the residents at HSOV.  These small tokens will be delivered in the coming weeks in the hopes that a line of communication be opened, and correspondence will continue with the residents.

Stuff-A-Cruiser, Saturday, May 30, 1:00 – 4:00 pm, Warren City Police Department:  The St. Paul’s Youth Group “Stuff-A-Cruiser” at the Warren City Police Department is coming up!  Please support our youth next Saturday, May 30, from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.  This wonderful outreach project allows students to help their fellow students struggling within the community.  The Warren G. Harding Pantry has specifically requested items such as:  Cereal, Pasta Sauce, Fruit Cups, Pudding Cups, Ramen Noodles, Juice Boxes, Hygiene Products, and Socks/Underwear sizes Youth 10 through Adult Large.  Food donations are asked to be “kid friendly” and require little to no adult supervision.  All donations are greatly appreciated!  PLEASE NOTE this event will be “contactless” to adhere to social distancing guidelines.  Donors are asked to place donations in the trunk of their vehicle to be removed by a volunteer.

Confirmation Parade, Sunday, May 31, 11:45 am – 12:15 pm, St. Paul Parking Lot:  Please don’t forget to attend our “Confirmation Parade” through the parking lot next Sunday, May 31, from 11:45 am to 12:15 pm. We ask that all members take a moment to drive through in a show of support and love for the youth reaching this wonderful milestone in their lives!  Our Confirmands this year are Sarah Durf, Brooke Frazzini, Dominic Frazzini, Kaitlyn Steuer, and Brycen Prasky from Living Lord.  These amazing young people will be waiting outside to see their church family at 11:45am.  We can’t wait to see everyone!

 

Pentecost A 2020

SCRIPTURES: Acts 2:1-21; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13; John 20:19-23

“From the inside out”

What do you think of when I say, “from the inside out?”  I had a funeral service for a lovely lady recently, whose family said she was beautiful “from the inside out.”  They meant, of course, that she was not only pretty in her looks, but also a person of great integrity; she looked beautiful and she acted with beauty- love and kindness towards others—a beautiful person through and through.

When we see a person’s eyes, their smile, and the way that they dress, all of this gives us clues about who they are.  If you look at our students today who are receiving Baptism and Confirmation, you will see five unique young people—male and female, tall and short, different ages, different colors of eyes and hair.  Beautiful, handsome young people.  But to know them inside and out, we would have to look beneath the surface at their characteristics.  I see in you patience, and also enthusiasm. While one person is quiet and reserved, another is fun-loving.  All can be different, yet all can be beautiful from the inside out.

It is the feast of Pentecost, when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to all of Jesus’ followers and to the church.  Today, we are all being made new by the Holy Spirit, from the inside out.  There is a newness that first comes to us all at baptism– on the inside, because our sin is washed away, and we are made one with Jesus in the family of God.  We get a white garment to wear on the outside, to show the purity and the newness of our lives on the inside.  Then that newness is multiplied when Jesus gives us his own Spirit.  That is what we celebrate at Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit makes us new from the inside out.

And for five young people, this Pentecost day is extra special; today, they receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation.  We know that confirmation is the affirmation of the sacrament of baptism, that means that for Sarah, Brooke, Dominic, Kaitlyn and Brycen, the Holy Spirit comes upon them in a vibrant way, making them new from the inside out.

I have known all of you for at least two years of confirmation classes and activities.  Along with Pastor Bill, I have been your teacher and guide, and there have been many other people who have taught you about Jesus and his Spirit.  And through all this time, you have had the Holy Spirit in you.  The pastor who baptized (or will baptize) you says these words:  “Sarah, Brooke, Dominic, Kaitlyn and Brycen, child of God, would are sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.”  It is because of grace and faith that you have been able to make the statement that “Jesus is Lord.”  This is what we heard today in St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:  “No one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.”

So, I want to assure you that you have already received the Holy Spirit.  If you ever wonder if you have received the Holy Spirit, then consider how it is that you know Jesus and understand him, at least to some degree.  Your basic understanding of God is the work of the Holy Spirit in you by grace through faith.

Now I want to tell you that I have observed gifts of the Holy Spirit in you already, as you have been growing as Christians.  You are all “gifted.”  In today’s society, when someone is called “gifted” it usually means they have an ability which lifts them above the rank and file, implying that they have the potential for greater success in that area.  A child gifted in math and science may become a great mathematician, scientist, or engineer, and so on.  The gifts that we lift-up in the world say what we value the most.  Paul says something just the opposite about gifts; he says that everyone is gifted, and every gift is as good as the next.

In my ministry in general, I have been interested to see what people’s gifts are for service in the church and in the community.  As a pastor, I can help to guide people to use their gifts, and to celebrate their God-given talents.   Today, I want to point out the spiritual gifts that I see at work in each one of you.

First, Sarah Durf:  You have come to this church community very faithfully for two years with your sponsors, Rodger and Diana Bartlett.  I remember talking to you when you first came; you said, I feel drawn to the bible and to church; yes, I want to make my confirmation;  Sarah, you have the spiritual gift of faith.  God and the Holy Spirit put that desire within you and you responded to it by saying yes; I’ll act on that desire.

Next, I see in Brooke Frazzini, the spiritual gift of giving.  Brooke, you have reached out into the community with your generous giving; when there was a Miss Italian contest, you were one of the winners.  You said, I will take my prize and use the money to provide for the hungry.  You also helped in getting food together for students at your school.  I see that giving is a spiritual gift for you.

Dominic Frazzini has shown me and others in this church, that he has the gift of “helps.”  This gift means that you step up and give of yourself to serve and help others.  Dominic, you loved our service work at camp; you gladly served at our church’s fellowship events and suppers.  You even hopped at the chance to mow my lawn for me.  You are filled with enthusiasm for helping others.  That is a spiritual gift.

Kaitlyn Steuer is somewhat quiet– until you get to know her.  So, Kaitlyn, it surprised me a little that a quiet girl is so comfortable inviting her friends to church and youth group.  You have the gift of witnessing (also called evangelism).  You brought Emily and Zeke and Josh on many occasions.  And they have especially enjoyed our time together, because of your gift to welcome them and to witness.

Finally, Brycen Prasky, our dear friend from Living Lord Lutheran Church, you have always had knowledge about the bible and your faith in God.  When we would have classes, you would be the first one to speak up with an answer to a question.  That is the spiritual gift of knowledge.  I know Pastor Bill often gave you previews of our lessons and planted knowledge in your mind; that is probably because he saw that same gift in you– to want to know and to learn of God and the Spirit.

My friends, this is just the beginning of your life in the Holy Spirit.  These are just the summary of what I see in your lives at this one point in time—a snap-shot of your life in the Spirit today.   In a short while, Pastor Bill and I will lay hands on you, and we will invite the Holy Spirit to continue her great work in you from the inside out.  Your faith and your gifts are personal, but they are not private.  Continue to use your gifts in the church, and in the community around you.  May God stir up in you all the gifts of his Holy Spirit!

AMEN

Rev Ann Marie Winters
May 31, 2020

 

St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church
2860 East Market Street, Warren, Ohio   44483
330-394-5741
Office email:   stpaulwarrenoh@aol.com
Office Hours 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Pastor Winters Cell:  330-469-6296

May 24, 2020

Praying for members with medical challenges:  Diana Bartlett, Rodger Bartlett, Elaine Benka, Ron Benka, Laurie Czoka, Jerry Groves, Stephanie Groves, Nancy Hall, Carolyn Marsh, Carol Null, Jerry Null, Roy Seibert, Jane Shaw, Ken Wareham, Jerry Wareham, April Williams, Andrea Wollam

Remembering those who are home bound:  Pastor Richard Bowen, Geneveive Costello, Jim Illencik, Jean Maurice, Harriette Shaffer

Remembering those with special needs:  Ted Buch, Gini Cage, Cora Campbell, Cindy Crisafi, Connie Fowler, Bryan Giocondi, Roxanne Meeker, Sharri Olson, John Prew, Mary Lou Robertson, Cindy Robinson, Scotty Santimarino, Ondine Shiau, Alton Smith, Rev. Paul Swartz, Dean Voye, Mark Voye, Bob Webb

Remembering those in the Military:  Jonathan Benka, Danielle Greenhill, Kirk Groves, Michael Maradin

In Sympathy:  Family of Dorothy Seibert at her passing

Please Pray:  As we enter another week of “staying at home”, here is a prayer from our hymnal:(In a time of conflict, crisis, disaster):  O God, where hearts are fearful and constricted, grant courage and hope.  Where anxiety is infectious and widening, grant peace and reassurance.  Where impossibilities close every door and window, grant imagination and resistance.  Where distrust twists our thinking, grant healing and illumination.  Where spirits are daunted and weakened, grant soaring wings and strengthened dreams.  All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  (Evangelical Lutheran Worship p. 76)

Visit us on the web at:  www.stpaulwarrenoh.org
On Facebook at:  www.facebook.com/stpaulwarrenoh
At:  You Tube St Paul Warren Oh
At:  WFMJ.com Community tab then Faith Services Tab
(or at https://www.drund.com/wfmj-streams/) Search for St Paul Lutheran Church

Little Gifts:  St. Paul loves children!  Stacey has been sending out weekly Sunday school crafts and mini-lessons to our twelve youngest members.  The little children are working at home to make the crafts, and they will send their creations to adult members in our congregation.  If you receive one of these hand-made treasures, please consider recognizing your child-giver with a little note or a call to thank them.  God bless us all!

Pastor’s Continuing Education Week:  One benefit of the coronavirus quarantine is that many conferences are now on-line instead of in-person.  May 18 to 22 Pastor Winters will be attending (from home) the Festival of Homiletics, which is an annual event of great value and impact.  Pray that all the pastors who participate will be blessed in their preaching.  Pastor Winters can still be reached on her cell phone for emergencies.

Did You Receive Your Questionnaire?  The re-entry team has met to discuss the recommendations to Council for the protocols of re-entering our building and worship space.  We want you to be knowledgeable and to have input into what is being recommended for our common safety and wellness.  PLEASE RETURN YOUR QUESTIONNAIRE BY MAY 22.  We all want to move forward, and need everyone’s help.

Confirmation Day:  On Pentecost, May 31, four of our youth will be confirmed in their faith.  They have studied and served, and participated in many youth activities for fellowship and fun.  Like everyone else, their year has been disrupted.  Nonetheless, a milestone has been reached.  They will receive the affirmation of baptism on Sunday, May 31, at our 10:30 am worship service in the presence of their families.  Stacey Altiere is putting together a drive-by parade of parishioners and friends to honor the confirmands.  If you can come to St. Paul’s parking lot on that day between 11:45 am and 12:15 pm, they will be honored by your presence.  We will enter and exit on the Central Parkway side of our building.  See you at the parade!

Communion Sundays:  On May 3 we safely and reverently distributed 122 Holy Communion packets with prayers that were led at your home tables.  We are planning to have a monthly communion, so our next Communion Sunday will be June 7, the first Sunday of the month.

Prayer for a Pandemic – Cameron Bellm, a blogger who lives in Seattle, Washington

May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips remember those that have no safe place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.

As fear grips our country, let us choose love.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
Amen.

 

ST. PAUL YOUTH UPDATE FROM STACEY ALTIERE

While our younger children have been busy completing crafts and forwarding them to our members, the older students have been working on their own little project for Shepherd of the Valley in Howland!  The students have been making cards, coloring pictures, and making little odds and ends to show some love and support to the residents at HSOV.  These small tokens will be delivered in the coming weeks in the hopes that a line of communication be opened, and correspondence will continue with the residents.

Stuff-A-Cruiser, Saturday, May 30, 1:00 – 4:00 pm, Warren City Police Department:  The St. Paul’s Youth Group “Stuff-A-Cruiser” at the Warren City Police Department is coming up!  Please support our youth next Saturday, May 30, from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.  This wonderful outreach project allows students to help their fellow students struggling within the community.  The Warren G. Harding Pantry has specifically requested items such as:  Cereal, Pasta Sauce, Fruit Cups, Pudding Cups, Ramen Noodles, Juice Boxes, Hygiene Products, and Socks/Underwear sizes Youth 10 through Adult Large.  Food donations are asked to be “kid friendly” and require little to no adult supervision.  All donations are greatly appreciated!  PLEASE NOTE this event will be “contactless” to adhere to social distancing guidelines.  Donors are asked to place donations in the trunk of their vehicle to be removed by a volunteer.

Confirmation Parade, Sunday, May 31, 11:45 am – 12:15 pm, St. Paul Parking Lot:  Please don’t forget to attend our “Confirmation Parade” through the parking lot next Sunday, May 31, from 11:45 am to 12:15 pm. We ask that all members take a moment to drive through in a show of support and love for the youth reaching this wonderful milestone in their lives!  Our Confirmands this year are Sarah Durf, Brooke Frazzini, Dominic Frazzini, Kaitlyn Steuer, and Brycen Prasky from Living Lord.  These amazing young people will be waiting outside to see their church family at 11:45am.  We can’t wait to see everyone!

 

Seventh Sunday of Easter
John 17: 1-11

Our text today has Jesus and his disciples at the last supper. He is preparing them to lead the way for doing his ministry – without his presence.  Our writer John is telling us what took place in that upper room.  It is almost as if one was reading a diary – a very personal diary.  Jesus knows that Judas is on his way to betray him to the religious leaders and that Peter will deny him.  Yet, Paul is sharing with us a very intimate part of the supper, a time where Jesus is praying with his friends and fellow missionaries.  Our other gospel writers have the disciples asking Jesus how to pray and Jesus begins with, “Our Father,” or we are in the garden in another intimate moment with Jesus praying alone while the others are sleeping.

All very poignant but John does it his way.  Jesus begins this prayer, looking up to heaven and prays.  The eleven disciples are there, hearing every word and listening to everything Jesus is praying.  Jesus is not praying for himself, but for his disciples, present and future disciples. This particular prayer is considered the “high priestly” prayer because it is centered on his disciples.  Jesus is concerned for them because he knows that they will be alone and he will not be there to answer questions, give them strength or courage to deal with the mission they will be taking over in a mere few hours.  Jesus is praying for these eleven men and encouraging them to do the work they were chosen to do.  He was troubled for them not only for the next few hours but for the following weeks, months, and years.  Jesus cared for these men.  These men followed Jesus and cared for him, not really knowing it would be them that would take over the mission that Jesus was sent to do on this earth.

It is in this prayer that Jesus tells the eleven that they will have life on this earth, but also life eternal.  We hear in verse 3, “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”  Jesus is telling them that they will have eternal life after their bodies die.  I can only imagine that the disciples at this point of time are confused, scared, and maybe even thinking, “What have I got myself into with this person.”  We know what is going to happen in the next few hours and weeks to Jesus and his disciples.  They do not know what we know.  They do not realize that they will be seeing Jesus – bodily, eating and drinking with them, talking with them, praying with them – after he had died.  Remember, this is still the Easter season.  It will not be until next week, after Jesus died on the cross, bodily rose from the grave, talked and ate with women and men, that Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to these people on Pentecost which we celebrate next week.  The prayer that Jesus prays in this text is a prayer that will continue with the disciples all their earthly lives.  Jesus is promising them they will have life eternal.  This promise will continue on through all our church seasons, for all who believe in the resurrected Christ.  The prayer that Jesus prayed that night to the eleven disciples is just as important and true as it is today.

Jesus cared for the people who were around him.  Regardless of their status in society: wealthy, poor, healthy, sick, male, female, or child. Jesus cared for the person standing next to him.  Jesus knew them, just as Christ knows us.  This prayer is not only for the eleven disciples, but also for us and for those who will continue Jesus Christ’s message of his resurrection and ascension to the Heavenly Father.  Jesus is praying about having a living, loving relationship with Him and with God.  When we have this intimate relationship with God and Jesus we can pass on the message of love and caring for those who need help.  We pass on that message of the Resurrected Christ and eternal life – for us.

This prayer that Jesus is praying is for the disciples that night, and for the disciples who are now sitting here or watching on a streaming device, or read today’s sermon.  Jesus wants a relationship with us.  Something that is personal, intimate, loving, and caring.  Jesus already knows us – intimately.  Jesus knows our moods, our desires, what we like and don’t like, what we think, feel, and experience – whether that may be good, bad, or indifferent.  The question is: can you or do you feel comfortable talking with God about some of your most inner thoughts.  Are you able to talk with God and know that whatever you talk about, you know that God does understand and will love you, regardless of your sin or sins?  And yes, I mean sin.  All of us do wrong in our lives.  That does not detract from the good we do, but none of us are sinless.  That is the reason Christ died and was resurrected from the cross, so that we can receive forgiveness of our sins.  Can you talk to God or Jesus about anything?  Or do you hold back?  There are sins in our lives we may not want to talk about to anyone, those old dusty secrets we keep locked away in our most inner being.  Share them with God.  Remember, for God, they are not secret – God already knows about them.  This is about a relationship between you and God.  You talk to your spouse, relatives, friends, co-workers, church family: talk to God in the same manner.  Your conversation does not need to be serious.  You can just say, “Gee God, I really just did a dumb thing”, which is generally the type of conversation I have with God.  I have a relationship with God and we talk to each other.  And yes, God does speak to me, although I don’t receive any post it notes, but in any relationship, you learn how to talk and to listen.  This is what Jesus wants of any of the disciples – a relationship.

We read in verses 10 -11, “All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.  And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”  Jesus is praying for all the disciples in this world.  Just as the people who came before us and those who will come after us, Jesus is still praying for all who proclaim the Word of God and the Resurrected Christ.

Jesus cares for us and knows that we will need help at some period or another, especially in bad times.  Christ continues to watch over us because He cares for us.  That feeling of caring for us provides comfort knowing that we are being watched and protected.  Jesus knows from firsthand experience that being a disciple can be difficult work.  All we have to do is to look back at the last few months.  As a church, we had to re-define what it meant to be a church.  How do we get out the Word of Christ when we can’t sit together?  How do we receive communion?  How do we tend to those who need food, shelter, loving arms to give a much-needed hug?  As Christians, we turned to God, prayed, asked questions.  Our church leaders worked hard to develop new strategies to fulfill the mission of Christ.  The church may not be doing what we have always done, but with the help and guidance of our heavenly Father, we are doing the same thing but in a different manner.  We see and hear that people are getting food, senior high school and college students are receiving their diplomas, and people are caring about other people, especially those who are alone.  We, as a nation, are meeting issues and problems with answers.  I pray for men and women who work at hospitals and nursing homes, law enforcement and fire personnel, first responders, and those men and women who work at essential businesses.  We are now praying that a second wave of illness will not happen.

I think that one of the positive results of this CORVID-19 crisis is how people are reaching out to others.  We have streaming devices, strangers are posting large letters in their windows to talk with a neighbor across the street, and children are writing messages with chalk on sidewalks. A week ago, one of my neighbors celebrated her birthday and her friends formed by a parade of cars with honking horns, neighbors beating on pots and pans, and balloons.  Neighbor reaching out to neighbor, just asking if everything is alright and to call if you need something.  We are looking out for each other in new and various ways.

These interactions are about a relationship with each other and Our Father in Heaven. We pray for that time when we will meet our Creator and when that time comes, we can be assured that we will have the eternal life which is promised to us.  Jesus continues to pray for all the disciples in this world.  It is comforting to know that we are loved unconditional and that we do have a friend in Jesus.  We can know that Jesus, our Lord and Savior, will continue to pray for us and for future generations.

Rev. Linda Murray, (Retired)
May 24, 2020

 

SCRIPTURES:  Acts 17:22-31, 1 Peter 3: 13-22, John 14:15-21

Easter 6 A 2020
Obedience and Hope

How many of you have been into a grocery store lately?  There are often arrows on the floor indicating the direction that traffic should go.  Signs say keep a 6-foot social distance.  I haven’t seen signs in the grocery store asking customers to “wear masks”, but it is a common courtesy, if not a mandatory rule.  For the good of everyone, we need to comply with the norms, obey the policies.

Obedience in our faith life is important too.  In the church, we must have an unconditional obedience to Christ.  That obedience forms and shapes us into Christians.  In John chapter 14, Jesus says, simply and clearly, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”  Christ’s command is simple—to love as he did.  And it is not enough to merely know that we should love.  We must do it.

I am thinking of the role of obedience in the space program.  In the Apollo 16 mission to the moon, General Charles Duke was explaining tidbits about driving “Rover”, the lunar vehicle, and his actually walking on the surface.  In an interview he was asked, “Once you were there weren’t you free to make your own decisions and carry out some of your own experiments—sort of do as you pleased—maybe stay a little longer if you liked?”  Then he described the intricate plan, the exact and precise instructions, the essential discipline, the instant obedience that was needed right down to the split second.

By the way, they had landed somewhat “heavy” when they touched down on the moon.  He was referring to their fuel supply.  They had plenty left.  Guess how much.  One minute.  They landed with sixty seconds of fuel remaining.  Talk about being exact!  I got the impression that a rebel doesn’t fit in a space suit, or a military uniform, for that matter.  Whoever represents the United States in the space program or the military, must have an unconditional respect for authority and practice obedience.

Our call to obey God has existed from the beginning.  Our gospel text refers to those who disobeyed God.  John is referring to those in Noah’s day, who angered God to the point that God flooded the earth.  Of course, this implies that we too must be obedient to God.  The call to obey has existed for many, many years.  It goes all the way back to Adam and Eve, who disobeyed God.  Today, however, the word “Obey” gets a bad rap. Is it oppressive of one’s choice?  Or insensitive to free will?  What does obedience really mean?

The word “obey” in Hebrew means to listen closely, to listen acutely.  So, for example, when God tells Adam and Eve to obey, God is not saying “do what I tell you, or else.”  No.  God is saying listen closely to me.  The Greek word for obedience carries the same meaning, to listen closely.  What made Jesus so great was that he listened so closely to God, which led him to serve and to love people in radical ways; he was selfless.  By the close listening, we show confidence in God.

As we listen, we will avoid the paths set by those in Noah’s day who did not rely on God.  Ours –we hope– will be a story of trust and confidence in God.  Our reliance on God will be revealed in how we act towards others.  To live in this way is to draw closer to living as Jesus did.

However, often we may want to go our own way, thinking I will be careful, Lord, as I go about my own way.  Being careful is not always enough.

A little boy, Jimmy, a five year old, was going to visit our neighbor, Aretta.  She was washing her dishes when she saw him heading straight towards her back porch.  She had just finished painting the back porch hand-rails, and she was proud of her work.  “Come around to the front door Jimmy, she shouted.  “There’s wet paint on the porch rails.”  “I’ll be careful answered Jimmy, not turning from his path.  “No Jimmy!  Don’t come up the steps,” Aretta shouted, knowing of Jimmy’s tendency to mess things up.  “I’ll be careful, he said again, by now dangerously close to the steps.  “Jimmy, stop! Aretta shouted.  “I don’t want carefulness.  I want obedience.”  To her relief, “he shouted back, “Alright Loving, (he was the only one who called her by her last name, like that), I’ll go around to the front door.”  Aretta thought, “How often I rationalize like Jimmy, “I’ll be careful Lord,” as I continue with my own plans.

Christ’s command is simple—to love as he did.  And it is not enough to merely know that we should love.  We must do it.  This brings us to my second point:  As we form one Body, the Church of Jesus Christ, it is crucial that we live not only with obedience, but also with an attitude of hopefulness.  Hope is the energy that moves us forward.  The practice of hope and optimism about the future is a powerful factor in our life together.   Hope flows from the imagination; it is the energy that arouses our minds to explore every possibility… Hope pictures every possible issue… tries every door… and fits together even the most similar pieces of a puzzle.

The opposite of course, is to be despairing.  Are we despairing?  Maintaining our hope in the church of the future relies on our power to imagine renewal, and to place our confidence in God– that God will not leave the church.

I remember what Martin Luther said, “Everything done in the world is done by hope.”  How hopeful are we as a body together?  I see that our faith and trust in God remains the center of our life.  We are worshipping our Lord.  All of us are searching for a spiritual life that is centered on Jesus.  He is the one around whom we gather to learn his loving ways.  He is THE teacher of the church, and our Way to God’s Kingdom.  We know our hope rests in Christ.

To sum up this message, in the church we must have an unconditional obedience to Jesus Christ.  His command is to love.  When we sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts, we are showing in word and in deed that we are hopeful for our lives now and in the future.  Hope is the energy that moves us forward.  We can always have hope…

A man approached a little league baseball team one afternoon.  He asked a boy in the dug out what the score was.  The boy responded 18 to nothing—we’re behind.  “Boy,” said the spectator, “I’ll bet you’re discouraged.”  “Why should I be discouraged?” replied the little boy, “We haven’t even gotten up to bat yet.”

Likewise, why should we be discouraged?  You might say, that we’re getting up to bat with obedience and with hope… Let’s load the bases!!

Rev Ann Marie Winters          May 17, 2020

 

 

St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church
2860 East Market Street, Warren, Ohio   44483
330-394-5741
Office email:   stpaulwarrenoh@aol.com
Office Hours 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Pastor Winters Cell:  330-469-6296

May 17, 2020

Praying for members with medical challenges:  Diana Bartlett, Rodger Bartlett, Elaine Benka, Ron Benka, Laurie Czoka, Jerry Groves, Stephanie Groves, Nancy Hall, Carolyn Marsh, Carol Null, Jerry Null, Roy Seibert, Jane Shaw, Ken Wareham, Jerry Wareham, April Williams, Andrea Wollam

Remembering those who are home bound:  Pastor Richard Bowen, Geneveive Costello, Jim Illencik, Jean Maurice, Harriette Shaffer

Remembering those with special needs:  Ted Buch, Gini Cage, Cora Campbell, Cindy Crisafi, Connie Fowler, Bryan Giocondi, Roxanne Meeker, Sharri Olson, John Prew, Mary Lou Robertson, Cindy Robinson, Scotty Santimarino, Ondine Shiau, Alton Smith, Rev. Paul Swartz, Dean Voye, Mark Voye, Bob Webb

Remembering those in the Military:  Jonathan Benka, Danielle Greenhill, Kirk Groves, Michael Maradin

In Sympathy:  Family of Dorothy Seibert at her passing

Please Pray:  As we enter another week of “staying at home”, here is a prayer from our hymnal:
(In a time of conflict, crisis, disaster):  O God, where hearts are fearful and constricted, grant courage and hope.  Where anxiety is infectious and widening, grant peace and reassurance.  Where impossibilities close every door and window, grant imagination and resistance.  Where distrust twists our thinking, grant healing and illumination.  Where spirits are daunted and weakened, grant soaring wings and strengthened dreams.  All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  (Evangelical Lutheran Worship p. 76)

Visit us on the web at:  www.stpaulwarrenoh.org
On Facebook at:  www.facebook.com/stpaulwarrenoh
At:  You Tube St Paul Warren Oh
At:  WFMJ.com Community tab then Faith Services Tab
(or at https://www.drund.com/wfmj-streams/) Search for St Paul Lutheran Church

Little Gifts:  St. Paul loves children!  Stacey has been sending out weekly Sunday school crafts and mini-lessons to our twelve youngest members.  The little children are working at home to make the crafts, and they will send their creations to adult members in our congregation.  If you receive one of these hand-made treasures, please consider recognizing your child-giver with a little note or a call to thank them.  God bless us all!

Pastor’s Continuing Education Week:  One benefit of the coronavirus quarantine is that many conferences are now on-line instead of in-person.  May 18 to 22 Pastor Winters will be attending (from home) the Festival of Homiletics, which is an annual event of great value and impact.  Pray that all the pastors who participate will be blessed in their preaching.  Pastor Winters can still be reached on her cell phone for emergencies.

Did You Receive Your Questionnaire?  The re-entry team has met to discuss the recommendations to Council for the protocols of re-entering our building and worship space.  We want you to be knowledgeable and to have input into what is being recommended for our common safety and wellness.  PLEASE RETURN YOUR QUESTIONNAIRE BY MAY 22.  We all want to move forward, and need everyone’s help.

Confirmation Day:  On Pentecost, May 31, four of our youth will be confirmed in their faith.  They have studied and served, and participated in many youth activities for fellowship and fun.  Like everyone else, their year has been disrupted.  Nonetheless, a milestone has been reached.  They will receive the affirmation of baptism on Sunday, May 31, at our 10:30 am worship service in the presence of their families.  Stacey Altiere is putting together a drive-by parade of parishioners and friends to honor the confirmands.  If you can come to St. Paul’s parking lot on that day between 11:45 am and 12:15 pm, they will be honored by your presence.  We will enter and exit on the Central Parkway side of our building.  See you at the parade!

Communion Sundays:  On May 3 we safely and reverently distributed 122 Holy Communion packets with prayers that were led at your home tables.  We are planning to have a monthly communion, so our next Communion Sunday will be June 7, the first Sunday of the month.

Prayer for a Pandemic – Cameron Bellm, a blogger who lives in Seattle, Washington

May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips remember those that have no safe place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.

As fear grips our country, let us choose love.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.

Amen.

 

ST. PAUL YOUTH UPDATE FROM STACEY ALTIERE

Let’s hit the ground running!  Our youth and their families have received new event calendars for the next eight weeks and we have some catching up to do!  Please contact Stacey at 330-718-8820 if you have any questions or concerns.  We have two big events coming up in the next few weeks so please mark your calendars for the following:

Stuff-A-Cruiser, Saturday, May 30, 1:00 – 4:00 pm, Warren City Police Department:  The St. Paul’s Youth Group has once again partnered with the Warren City Police Department to hold our annual “Stuff-A-Cruiser” event to collect items for the Warren G. Harding Food Pantry!  Families within the community are struggling with unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, placing additional hardships on the children that are no longer in school.  This has caused an influx of children seeking help from the WGH Food Pantry, depleting their resources.  The Pantry has specifically requested items such as:  Cereal, Pasta Sauce, Fruit Cups, Pudding Cups, Ramen Noodles, Juice Boxes, Hygiene Products, and Socks/Underwear sizes Youth 10 through Adult Large.  Food donations are asked to be “kid friendly” and require little to no adult supervision.  All donations are greatly appreciated!  PLEASE NOTE:  this event will be “contactless” to adhere to social distancing guidelines.  Donors are asked to place donations in the trunk of their vehicle to be removed by a volunteer.

Confirmation Parade, Sunday, May 31, 11:45 am – 12:15 pm, St. Paul Parking Lot:  In an effort to recognize our Confirmands while conforming to the new norm, we will be having a “Confirmation Parade” through our parking lot on Sunday, May 31, from 11:45 am to 12:15 pm.  We ask that all members take a moment to drive through in a show of support and love for the youth reaching this wonderful milestone in their lives!  Our Confirmands this year are:  Sarah Durf, Brooke Frazzini, Dominic Frazzini, and Kaitlyn Steuer.  These amazing young people will be waiting outside to see their church family at 11:45 am.  We can’t wait to see everyone!

 

Epiphany 6 A 2020
Integrity and Jesus’ Commands

Jesus comes among today us as the Word of God, guiding us by his holy teachings. If there is one single message I want you to hear today, it is to practice integrity in your Christian life.  Integrity happens when you align your inner self with your outward actions.  Integrity is the over-arching message of today’s gospel.  Yes, Jesus is teaching about acting out in anger, wrong-doing, adultery, and divorce, but these commands are to be seen within the context of the kingdom of God, and integrity in our relationships.  God wants us to act with the most integrity that we can muster.  Yet, because God knows our weaknesses, He gives us Jesus to guide our attitudes and our practices, and to treat us with grace and mercy when we fumble and fail.

Here is a story that teaches us about integrity.  Back in the fifties, a small town in Pennsylvania, of about 6,000 people, built a little red brick building that was to be their police department, fire department and city hall.  They were certainly proud of it, and the ribbon-cutting ceremony was the biggest event of the year.  Sometime later they noticed that the windows wouldn’t shut all the way, then the doors wouldn’t close correctly.  Eventually, the floor shifted and left ugly gaps.  The roof began to leak, and within a few more months, it had to be evacuated, to their embarrassment and disgust.

Shortly afterwards, a company did an analysis, and found that the blasts from a nearby mining area were slowly destroying the building.  Down beneath the foundation, there were small shifts and changes taking place that caused the whole foundation to crack.  You couldn’t see it or feel it from the surface, but quietly and deep down there was a weakening.  The building had to be condemned and demolished.

Our status as children of God gives each of us a life with a sound structure.  We are like the red brick building standing proudly in the town center.  However, we are also shaken beneath the surface by sin, our own sin and the sins of others.  The integrity of our lives can be affected by little cracks and shifts and movements that are enough to affect us negatively, even bringing us tumbling down at times.  These are moments when we rely on the mercy and forgiveness of God to restore us to integrity, soundness, wholeness.

Now let’s take a closer look at the commands of today’s gospel.  First, we hear about anger.  The concern of Jesus is less about feeling angry than about what one does with one’s anger.  If you are angry and insult and do wrong to your neighbor, be aware that there are consequences.

What is your attitude about anger, against your neighbor?  Anger is just an emotion, we know, and it does not always follow that one must act out in anger.  But anger can certainly hurt! Does anger shape your relationships?  In other words, does anger cause one argument after another, or continual bitterness?  Does your anger hold you back over time, from being able to reconcile?   Jesus commands reconciliation… In the ways of Christ, reconciliation is a constant, reliable process of mutual understanding.  This is what we must aspire to.

In Jesus’ kingdom, because disciples are bound to treat each other with forgiveness, he says, “go and be reconciled with your neighbor.”  Then when you come before Jesus– when you come to the holy supper—it will be with less of a burden and with a lighter heart.

Martin Luther has an interesting comment on angry people; when a fool gets angry; his heart is in his mouth, and he speaks without thinking.  On the other hand, the mouth of a wise person is in their heart—wise people speak from their hearts, and they speak carefully.

Luther adds that anger provides him with energy.  He says, “When I am inspired of anger (Luther is clearly a wise man, being inspired), I can write, pray and preach well, for then my whole temperament is quickened, and my understanding sharpened … and my temptations depart.”

The bigger picture of today’s gospel instructs us on how to deal with brokenness in relationships. Where God intends us to lend mutual support, we sometimes deny such support, and fractions happen.  But before we gather around the holy table, to receive the sacrament of Jesus Christ, our old scores need to be settled, and our wounds healed.  The ideal, we know, is not always easy to attain; in such cases, reconciliation may take time, and a large amount of patience.  Christ understands this.

I have a suggestion for you today at the time of Holy Communion. Think of the ways that you have brokenness in your relationships. Come to communion with repentance for these sins. When we reconcile before the table of the Lord, we offer to God the totality of our lives—the darkness and the light—and it is blessed, made holy, and returned to us as the presence of the living Christ.  We symbolize this in sharing the gifts of bread and wine.  It is Christ, working in and through us, not only our darkness, but also our light.

I stand before you today in humility as a person with two divorces.  I am certain that Jesus calls for integrity in marriage.  Integrity is as basic as keeping your word, fulfilling your promises.  Yet, let’s also call to mind the story of the red brick building that was shaken and destroyed by distant blasts of mining.  Little by little, the soundness of a building, or of a relationship can be shaken.  It is best to address the problems when they are small, and they may be forgiven and corrected.  If reconciliation is not possible, and divorce becomes necessary, the greater good may be the freeing possibility of another relationship. In all these cases, what we understand about following Jesus will come through in our inner attitudes, and our outward words and actions our integrity.

We are guided by Christ through his holy word of scripture to think well of other people, even if he or she becomes an opponent.  A phenomenon I’ve seen with lawyers is that their opponents in a case or a bill do not have to become their enemies.  They can be friends, even while arguing opposite sides of an issue.

Also, those involved in a debate, have to be able to argue both sides of an issue.  In a formal debate competition, debaters don’t know which side they will have to present.  Too often, in our angry debates, we don’t actually know the other position.  We argue against what we think it is—and we often find that we’re mistaken.

Jesus advises us to see our opponents—even in a law case—as friends rather than enemies; to think well of them rather than acting out in anger.  Making peace with them is more important than getting revenge.

Again, integrity happens when we make a promise or an oath that is totally true.  We should act with truthfulness in all our commitments.  As Jesus says, let your yes be yes, and your no be no.  When we live in the direction of the kingdom, everything is done and said in truthfulness.

To me it is a wonder that God continually reveals the secrets of the kingdom, even while we may fumble along in our human frailty.  With Christ, there is grace upon grace, and mercy upon mercy.  May we continue to lean in the direction of integrity, and fall there into the arms of Jesus Christ.

Rev Ann Marie Winters
May 17, 2020