FROM PASTOR ANN MARIE WINTERS: A New Year, New Wineskins?
“No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:22)
Jesus is speaking about the old making way for the new. He has come to bring a new teaching, and those who heard him at Capernaum exclaimed, “What is this? A new teaching – with authority!” All of Jesus’ teaching and ministry points to the new age that has dawned with the coming of the kingdom of God. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, there will be tension between the “old” and the “new”, and all the while, those who follow Jesus will struggle to grasp what it means to live in the already and the not yet – the kingdom at hand, and the kingdom yet to come.
We have the new year of 2018 ahead of us! We already know many things about what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ, and to do the will of God. There are traditional ways of doing things – tried and true “wine in old wineskins”. Yet, we are also on a path with new direction! Our Mission Envisioning Team wants to lead us in prayer, member-to-member communication, youth outreach, and joint social ministry. For certain, this will bring new ideas and new energy – fresh new “wine in new wineskins”. Let us conserve all that is worthy of keeping (the old), and celebrate the presence of our Savior among us. Let us also reach out to grasp the good and great blessings that Jesus Christ has yet to bring (the new).
An “old” pastor with new hope,
Pastor Ann Marie Winters
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
PAUL ANNUAL MEETING / SHARED MINISTRY VOTE: The Annual Meeting of the Congregation, to accept the Annual Report, is scheduled for Sunday, January 28, 2018, at 11:30 am. The only other matter of business will be the yes/no vote to give the Shared Ministry Team permission to continue planning a proposal for consolidation between Living Lord and St. Paul.
IT’S FUN TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SHARED MINISTRY’S GOALS FOR 2018: When our “Mission Envisioning Team” met to cast a vision for our Lutheran churches, we said that one goal is that:
“All parts of the body will care for one another, pray for each other’s needs, and grow stronger in faith in Christ, who is the head of the body.”
In 2018, a step to reach that goal is to increase our caring and faith-based relationships. In other words, we wish to deepen our church friendships through prayer and mutual caring for one another. Will you participate in our special prayer emphasis for January by enhancing one of your church friendships?
JANUARY PRAYER EMPHASIS: CHURCH FRIENDSHIPS
Here is what we are asking our members to do: Pray for a friend in your congregation. Your friend can be someone you know well, or only a little bit. The prayer will be most effective if you ask God’s help to increase your relationship to your friend.
– Listen attentively to your friend
– Put real effort into your friendship
– Ask and phone to see how your friend is doing
– Be sensitive to know what your friend needs and provide it
CELEBRATE GRAND-FAMILIES: “Celebrate Grand-families” is a new support group for grandparents raising their grandchildren. St. Paul is reaching out to support these families with Christian compassion and a place to meet and discuss their needs. We are starting with the group with five families from the community, and more are welcome, if you know of anyone who would fit in. While the women meet, we will have crafts, games, bible stories, snacks, help with homework, tutoring, and a fun social time for eight children. Their ages are 2, 3, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, and 13. Church members are needed to help with the children. Sessions in January will be on Saturdays, January 13 and 27, from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm. Please contact Brenda Ceplecci or Pastor Winters to help.
BE-A-FRIEND SUNDAY: On Sunday, January 14, our Shared Ministry will celebrate a milestone of friendship. We will gather for a joint worship service at St. Paul at 10:30 am. After we worship, everyone is invited to gather for chili in the fellowship hall. There will be 10 minutes set aside for friendship conversations, pairing a person from St. Paul with a person from Living Lord, for conversation on the question: “What do you love most about your church?”
CHILI COOK-OFF: Ready, set, cook! The 150th Anniversary Committee of St. Paul is sponsoring a chili cook-off competition after our combined worship service on January 14. Do you have a chili that you would like to enter in the mild, medium, or hot category? A first place medallion will be awarded in each category (to be judged by those tasting). Please enter your name and category on the sign-up sheets at St. Paul and Living Lord. Please contact Terry Ceplecci or Pastor Bill if you have any questions.
WE ARE PREPARING A 150th ANNIVERSARY BOOK: As you know, 2018 is the 150th Anniversary of St. Paul Lutheran Church. The Anniversary Committee is working on a memory book to commemorate the occasion. Anyone who has been connected to our church in any way over the years is invited to be a part of the publication. Photos will be taken by the Life Touch company on January 18 and 19 from 2:00 to 9:00 pm, and on January 20 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. You will receive a complimentary 8 x 10 portrait, and your picture will appear in the book. Additional photos will be available for purchase if you choose. More information will be forthcoming soon.
HOLY COMMUNION CHALICE: Pastor Winters and the St. Paul Congregation would like to thank Bill Barba of Barba Jewelers for his skill and generosity in refurbishing the silver communion chalice. Bill had originally crafted the chalice and flagon set for us many years ago, and we are proud to have it back in use for our communion service. Thanks Bill!
FROM PASTOR WILLIAM D. LEITCH: What’s your New Year’s resolution for 2018? Mine is discipleship. I will be leading a Ministries Studies course in March on Evangelism. Evangelism is a part of the process of discipleship.
“Discipleship”. We use this word a lot in the church. What does it really mean to us?
Definition: A disciple is a follower, one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another. A Christian disciple is a person who accepts and assists in the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ. Christian discipleship is a process by which disciples grow in the Lord Jesus Christ and are equipped by the Holy Spirit, who resides in our hearts, to overcome the pressures and trials of this present life and become more and more Christ-like. This process requires believers to respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to examine their thoughts, words, and actions and compare them with the Word of God. This requires that we be “in the Word” daily – studying it, praying over it, and obeying it. In addition, we should always be ready to give testimony of the reason for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15) and to disciple others to walk in His way. According to Scripture, being a Christian disciple involves personal growth characterized by the following:
- Putting Jesus first in all things (Mark 8:34-38)
- Following Jesus’ teachings (John 8:31-32)
- Fruitfulness (John 15:5-8)
- Love for other disciples (John 13:34-35)
- Evangelism – Making disciples of others (Matthew 28:18-20)
Being a disciple of Christ requires work and discipline. Otherwise, we are NOT! But it is a process. We cannot do it by ourselves. We go through this process together. Together we grow stronger. Yet, there is a moment in everyone’s life that we must reach out to one who is not on this journey/process with us. It might seem overwhelming to even begin the journey or to get someone else’s attention to come with us on this journey. Yet, Jesus demands it.
Where are you on your faith journey? Do you know where you are going? Do you know where you are heading? Do you have a road map to get there? Who is your partner on this journey? Remember, partners are a part of the process.
I challenge everyone to write down your answers to these questions. If you do not have answers to these questions, then I challenge you to write down the questions you need answered in order to become a more focused and purposeful disciple.
Christ is calling you. The Church needs you. We are in this together. Together we can keep our focus on Christ and how he calls us. We can do Christ’s will and change the world.
I hope that you can share your answers with others. It will start a very good conversation for our journey together.
Your fellow disciple,
LIVING LORD ANNUAL CONGREGATION MEETING: The Annual Meeting of the Congregation will be held on Sunday, January 28, 2018, at 11:45 am in the Worship Space – mark your calendar! At this meeting, reports will be received from Standing Committees, Congregation Council Members will be elected, and the 2018 Budget will be approved. Also at this meeting, we will hold a yes/no vote to give the Shared Ministry Team permission to continue planning a proposal for consolidation between Living Lord and St. Paul. Your Annual Report will be on the table in the hall the week prior to the meeting; be sure to stop and pick it up.