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Worship Connection for May 9th

May 9, 2021

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The Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 9, 2021

Call to Worship & Welcoming Children    Rev. J. M. Deal

Leader: The Spirit is coming to bless us all with a new song:  

All: Let our joy be complete!

L: Gifts for the good of all, poured out on all to teach us a new song:

All: Love one another!

L: Strangers and neighbors, foreigners and family will join in the new song:

All: No longer servants but friends!

L: Come, let our worship make a joyful noise,

All: Rejoicing in the friendship of God.

*Opening Hymn     “Come, Christians, Join to Sing”

1. Come, Christians, join to sing; Alleluia! Amen!

Loud praise to Christ our King; Alleluia! Amen!

Let all, with heart and voice, Before his throne rejoice;

Praise is his gracious choice: Alleluia! Amen!

2. Come, lift your hearts on high; Alleluia! Amen!

Let praises fill the sky; Alleluia! Amen!

He is our guide and friend; Our cry he will attend;

His love shall never end: Alleluia! Amen!

*The Greeting

The Call to Confession      Rev. Jock Stein

One: Gracious God, bend our thoughts toward You now, to worship with attention, to confess with purpose, to receive with open hearts and to grow a passion for Your will.

All: We offer You our strength and our brokenness.

Prayer of Confession   Rev. Jock Stein

One: Holy One,

All: we acknowledge our own sins, we acknowledge the shortcomings of our society, we acknowledge worldwide failures to live justly and kindly.

One: We thank you for Jesus,

All: who is the first fruit of a new human order and we desire to live the new life he offers us through the Spirit. Forgive us for doubting your goodness and willingness to bless all people.

One: In worship today may we become sure of your love, sure of your wise purpose, sure of the values of your kingdom.

All: In our worship may we grow in trust towards you and towards one another. May we receive the gifts you offer, through Jesus Christ.  Amen.

a time for personal reflection and confession

Kyrie

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Words of Assurance     (adapted from John 15:9-17)

L: Christ, in his abundant love died for us and forgives our every sin. 

All: Let us love others as Christ loved us, giving freely of ourselves for the well-being of friends and strangers.

The Gloria Patri

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The Passing of the Peace 

L: May the Peace of Christ be with you.

All: And also with you.

The Gospel Lesson

John 15:9-17 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

The Sermon      “Abide”                              

The Pastoral Prayer

Prayer Response  “Come and Fill”

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Come and fill all my life, Come and fill all my life.

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Each and every tender place:  Holy Breath, move through me.

Pouring gently, rushing strong:  Holy Breath move through me.

Invitation to the Offering      

*The Doxology

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*The Prayer of Dedication    Rev. J.M. Deal

May our humble gifts given during this Easter Season be a taste of resurrection to those in need.  May our lives be points of Christ’s light to those who are living in darkness.  And may our very existence be dedicated to you, O God, our Strength and our Redeemer.  Amen.

The Prayer of Our Savior

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.  Amen.

Mother’s Day Litany

L: To those who gave birth this year to their first child—

All: we celebrate with you

L: To those who lost a child this year –

Allwe mourn with you

L: To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – 

All: we appreciate you

L: To those who experienced loss this year through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—

All: we mourn with you

L: To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment 

All: we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

L: To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – 

All: we need you

L: To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – 

All: we celebrate with you

L: To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – 

All: we sit with you

L: To those who lost their mothers this year – 

All: we grieve with you

L: To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – 

All: we acknowledge your experience

L: To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – 

All: we are better for having you in our midst

L: To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children,– 

All: we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

L: To those who step-parent,– 

All: we walk with you on these complex paths

L: To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren, yet that dream is not to be,–

All: we grieve with you

L: To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – 

All: we grieve and rejoice with you

L: And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –

All: we anticipate with you          

L: This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. 

All: We remember you.  Amen.

Closing Hymn:   “In Christ There Is No East or West”

1. In Christ there is no East or West, in Him no South or North, 

but one community of love throughout the whole wide earth.

2. In Christ shall true hearts everywhere their high communion find; his service is the golden cord close-binding human kind.

3. Join hands, disciples of the faith, what-e’er your race may be;

all children of the living God are surely kin to me.

4. In Christ now meet both East and West in Him meet South and North; all loving hearts are one in Him throughout the whole wide earth.

Benediction

“Go forth into the world to serve God with gladness; be of good courage; hold fast to that which is good; render to no one evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honor all people; love and serve God, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

And may the blessing of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit remain with you forever.  Amen.

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Pastor Matt’s Musing

May 9, 2021

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Dear St. Paul’s Friends & Family,

Our gospel reading for this week picks up where we left off last week.  Jesus builds on the vineyard imagery taking us from the oneness of the vine and the branches to the specifics of the kind of fruit that we are to bear as members connected to him, the true vine.  Love is not only the fruit we are called to bear, but the lifeblood that animates the relationships between God and all of God’s children.  “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” (John 15:9-10).  The notion of abiding in love in this context is not limited only to a place of dwelling, but literally understood as an act of perseverance and steadfastness.  

Jesus is telling us that God not only loves us, but dwells with us.  In dwelling with God, we cannot simply be in God’s presence but are called to further action.  The double meaning of abide means that God wants us to join in the persistent and steadfast work of loving God and neighbor.  In other words, if we want to hang out with God, loving others is the essence of that oneness with God.

We are fortunate to have real-life examples of how persistent living and loving work themselves out in everyday relationships.  A classic example is the relationship between parent and child.  As we celebrate The Festival of the Christian Home this Sunday, we honor the exemplary nature of these relationships.  The parent/child relationship, when it is healthy, covers for all types of mistakes and relational strains.  Relational bonds may become strained, but the love between parent and child always persists in mending the relationship.  Obviously, this is not always the case.  Many parent/child relationships are at best complicated and in some cases broken, yet, this is the closest real-world example of the kind of abiding love about which Jesus is speaking.

The conflicts and controversies that threaten dwelling with and loving one another persist, but that’s not the end of the story.  God’s abiding continues in both ways.  God walks with us and persists in loving us toward healing and reconciliation.  Christ’s command for us to love one another is more than just an aspirational rule, but at the very center of God’s healing and redemptive work.  Just as we are healed as individuals, so are those around us, and eventually all of creation.  Certainly, such healing love is needed now more than ever as the bonds that unite us are strained by all types of cultural forces around us.  

May you sense God’s healing love abiding with you, and may you abide in your faithfulness to love God, yourself, and others.

Blessings for the journey!

Pastor Matt

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St. Paul’s Continuing Care Community is May’s Mission Offering

May 2, 2021

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St. Paul’s Continuing Care Community is May’s Mission Offering:  St. Paul’s, historically related to the United Church of Christ, has been serving the needs of residents of western Pennsylvania and the surrounding states for 141 years.  Our congregation has a history of supporting the mission of St. Paul’s Continuing Care Community.  Through our continued support of St. Paul’s mission, we are realizing Jesus Christ’s call to love God and neighbor.

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Worshipping at St. Paul’s

April 9, 2021

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Here are our worship opportunities for the week ahead:

Gathered Worship in the Sanctuary at 9:30am.  In order to ensure a safe service for all participants, masks will be required while in the building, including during worship.  We will also be practicing social distancing, so please find a row with a bow.   We have begun to phase back in congregational singing as we all continue to remain masked, so please come prepared to worship God through song!   

Online Worship at 9:30am on Facebook and YouTube.

Telephone Worship at 11:00am.

For telephone worshippers: the toll-free conference call number is 1-844-855-4444.  The automated service will then ask for your access code or PIN.  Please enter: 512013#.

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Psalm 23: Prayer Guide

March 12, 2021

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Thank you for joining our at home prayer vigil. Please take a look at this week’s vigil reading using the link below. We give thanks to our friends at Unionville United Methodist Church in Beaver County, PA for sharing with us these devotionals. 

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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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