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Matt’s Musing

January 27, 2023

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Dear St. Paul’s Friends and Family,

“And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  (Micah 6:8b)

What does God want from me is a question that many of us sit with from time to time in our life.  It’s an ancient question that is part of the people’s response to God’s critique of them in Old Testament book of Micah.  A common answer to this question, at least from the standpoint of religion, is that God wants acts of worship and devotion.    Bring on the burnt offerings, the generous offerings of time, talent, and treasure, and don’t forget to have perfect attendance!  Micah lets us in on a secret about God.  None of those acts of worship is what God really wants.  What God really wants out of us is justice, loving kindness, and humility.  God asks for us to align our lives with God’s vision for a healed and whole community.   

Lost in translation is the transformative nature of God’s charge for us.  In the original Hebrew of Micah, doing justice is so much more than righting wrongs, it is a performative part of our daily existence:  being fair and equitable to everyone.  Similarly, loving kindness isn’t just about being nice, rather it is more clearly realized in treating others with compassion and loyalty based on the mutual love we share as God’s children.  Humility toward God isn’t just about being deferential to a higher power, but is best understood as being careful and thoughtful in how one walks with God.  I really find this translation of humility to be the most thought provoking of the three because it assumes that I’m aware that I’m walking with God, which isn’t always the case, and reaffirms that God is with me no matter what.  This awareness makes me more thoughtful in how I should be open to God each moment of my life.

In short, the sixth chapter of Micah reminds us that devotion to God is not measured so much in performing the right religious acts, but in shaping our life to align with God’s saving work.  The pressing question is not, “What does God want?” but rather, “How am I helping to bring healing, wholeness, and abundant life to Creation and all of God’s children?”  God’s desire is for us to care for one another, especially, the poor, the vulnerable, and those discarded by society.  Such caring will not only lead to right worship, but right living as Christ’s followers.  May the Holy Spirit guide us as we manage our resources and our lives to help restore the heavens and the earth and all who dwell in them to the “goodness” to which they were created by God.

Blessings on your journey!

Pastor Matt 

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Worship Connection for January 29th

January 27, 2023

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January’s Mission Offering Is Church World Service Blanketes

January 15, 2023

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Since its formation in 1957, the United Church of Christ has worked with Church World Service (founded in 1946) to accomplish more together than it could alone, joining hearts and resources to create a tradition of help and a legacy of hope.  They work to eradicate hunger and poverty and to promote peace and justice around the world.

When disaster strikes, Church World Service is the primary agency through which the UCC gives support for relief and recovery efforts. This assistance may take the form of winterized family tents for Pakistani earthquake survivors, food packages and tankers full of water for displaced people in violence-torn Darfur, Sudan, or long-term recovery assistance for families affected by hurricanes, tornados, or flooding across the United States.

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Mission 225: This Week In St. Paul’s History

November 20, 2022

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 A letter from Rev. Shellenberger to the congregation sharing the wonderful news of the dedication of the iron cross that is used during Lent on the altar.

April 18, 1973

“A notable event happened on Passion Sunday, April 8, when the sculptured iron cross made by Mr. David C. Weimer and commissioned by Mr. & Mrs. Dale W. Oglevee in memory of her parents, Mr. Ezra R. and Mrs. Lucy P. Baer was dedicated and placed upon the altar. This appointment for use during the Lent and on occasions of  penitence should remind us of the other side of our central symbol of the Faith. Certainly, the Cross was made beautiful by what God through Christ did with it. Our sculptured iron cross and crown of thorns bears a vivid testimony to the cruelty imposed upon our Lord as He lived out His Compassion for people like ourselves.”  

The nails that Mr. Weimer used to sculpt the cross were salvaged by church members when the parsonage was torn down.  

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Sharing Your St. Paul’s Story

October 7, 2022

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In honor of our 225th anniversary and on behalf of the anniversary planning team, I am inviting you to share your St. Paul’s story!  Our hope is to bring together a living history of our shared stories in a video that will be shared during our celebration on Sunday, November 6th and archived for future generations.  Stories need not be lengthy or elaborate, but a genuine reflection of what the church means to you.  Please consider sharing your St. Paul’s story.  A sign-up sheet is on the table in the back of the Sanctuary for those who would like to share their St. Paul’s story.  Once you sign up, we will contact you to set up a time to record your story.

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Good Friday Prayer Vigil

April 10, 2020

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Please join us for our prayer vigil that begins on Good Friday evening and continues through Easter Day. Although we are distanced physically, let us draw to one another spiritually as we unite to pray for our church, community, country and world. The vigil can be accessed through clicking the link below.

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A New Way To Give

March 27, 2020

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The current COVID-19/Corona Virus pandemic has forced many individuals, businesses, and organizations to rethink how to accomplish day-to-day functions.  The church is no different.  

St. Paul’s continues to do vital ministry:

  • Reaching out to the homebound & lonely
  • Caring for the sick
  • Comforting the dying & their families
  • Working with the Somerset Area School District, Meals on Wheels, Somerset Area Ministries, and other agencies to ensure our most vulnerable community members are fed everyday
  • Online children’s programming
  • Online fellowship events
  • Live-streaming and videos of worship services on Facebook & YouTube
  • Launching a COVID-19 community mission fund to assist those in need because of social distancing, job loss, and illness
  • Honoring our monthly mission partners

A number of our members and friends have asked for an online way to give, so we are pleased to offer this service through tithe.ly.  You can make a gift by accessing our website (see the “Give” button on the homepage or the button below), www.stpaulsuccsomerset.org.  You may also download the free tithe.ly app to your smartphone or tablet and customize it to meet your needs.  Although the service is free to the church, credit card and transaction fees are assessed to each gift, so when making an online contribution through tithe.ly, please consider using the bank funds transfer feature, which has the lowest fee of one percent per transaction.  For your convenience, you may also select the reoccurring gift option if you would like to make regular gifts to the church.  If you have any questions or need assistance using this service, please do not hesitate to contact Cindy, our financial secretary.  And as always, we still accept and appreciate your mail-in contributions!

We value your continued thoughts and prayers during these challenging times.  On behalf of the staff, and lay leadership of our church, we wish you good health and strength as we encounter each day together.  Relying on God and one another, we will get through this!

Blessings,

Pastor Matt

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Sermons from St. Paul’s

February 21, 2020

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“An Ethic of Love”
February 16, 2020
Rev. J. Matthew Deal
“The Third Way”
February 9, 2020
Rev. J. Matthew Deal
“When Things Break Down”
February 2, 2020
Rev. J. Matthew Deal
“Following Jesus”
January 19, 2020
Rev. J. Matthew Deal
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Mardi Gras Worship!

February 19, 2020

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Sunday, February 23, 2020, during & after worship

Mardi Gras in the Christian tradition is a festive time of laughter and celebration right before the contemplative six weeks of Lent.  We will be celebrating our own Mardi Gras with some special surprises during worship.  Johnstown Brass Works will be with us providing some Dixieland style music.  Our Chancel Choir and the Children and Youth Choirs are preparing a couple of selections that will get us into the spirit.  We’ll follow worship with a special potluck brunch in Fellowship Hall, complete with King’s Cake cupcakes and a few special surprises!  You won’t want to miss the fun, so be sure to bring your favorite dish to share, a friend (if you’d like), wear colorful clothing, and be prepared for some enjoyable fellowship.

Please join us!

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Taste of the World

February 15, 2020

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Sink Your Teeth into a New Experience at the Taste of the World Ethnic Food Festival!

We invite those who love food and adventure to join us for this FREE family-friendly event. Community members from countries such as Brazil, Egypt, India, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Thailand will be present to offer samples of their traditional native foods and share interesting information about their homeland. The Somerset Exchange Students will also be preparing and serving some of their traditional foods from France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland.

Inspired by Fred Rogers, who stated, “We want to raise our children so that they can take a sense of pleasure in both their own heritage and the diversity of others,” the Taste of the World event will provide specific opportunities for children to explore the commonalities and celebrate the differences embedded in our community’s diverse cultures. Children and youth can explore the entertainment space offering games (take a swing at our pinata or try your hand at Mexican Bingo) and crafts from the representative countries. They can also visit the story corner and explore multi-ethnic and bi-lingual books.

St. Paul’s UCC, alongside of Love for the World, a group of church & local community members, is committed to empowering our community to love and care for our neighbors both near and far. It is our hope that through offering small bites of new cultural experiences, the Taste of the World event will carry forward the mission of building strong caring relationships with all those in our community.

Taste your way around the world by reserving your FREE ticket online at www.TasteoftheWorldFoodFestival.Eventbrite.com. FREE tickets will also be available at the door.

Add Taste of the World to your calendar. You won’t want to miss it!

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