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Worship Connection, January 17th

January 15, 2021


Here are our worship opportunities for the week ahead:

Sunday, January 17th-Sunday, January 31st:  No in-person service. Worship on telephone or online platforms.

While in-person services are suspended, you are invited to attended self-guided prayer and meditation in the Sanctuary this week from 9:00am-11:00am.  Pastor Matt will be on hand if you need to pray or talk with him.

Worship by Telephone.  We are very pleased to announce a toll-free worship option.  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#.  The audio service will begin at 11:00am. 

Online.  This Sunday’s Service streaming live on the church’s Facebook page and YouTube at 9:30am.  You can find the church’s YouTube channel by searching for St. Paul’s UCC Somerset in the YouTube search bar.  The streamed service will be available on demand on both digital platforms following its streaming at 9:30am.  (This service is pre-recorded but is streamed as live for the online community.)

Worship Resources for this Week

Sunday, January 17th

The Second Sunday after Epiphany

The Call to Worship:  Rev. Thom Shuman

In the silence of a lonely night, in the songs children sing in the morning, God calls to us.

We are here, God who is always with us, listening for your words of life and love.

When we would decide to go it alone, when we think no good can be found anywhere, Jesus calls to us.

We are here, Friend who knows our longings, ready to come and see where you would lead us.

When we think we have license to do whatever we want, when we are convinced we need no map, the Spirit calls to us.

We are here, Peace we are longing for, so that we might help others find the way to life.

Opening Hymn:  “The Summons”  Sheet music resource

The Greeting

Call to Confession  Rev. J. Matt Deal   

Sometimes we are foolish enough to think that we can hide from God or ignore God’s presence.  Hear us now, O Holy One, as we open ourselves up to you, confessing our sins. 

Prayer of Confession Rev. J.Matt Deal

Almighty God, we admit that our sins take various forms.  Through our pride, our timidity, or simply our indifference, we have condoned words and actions that have led to violence, division, and cynicism.  The challenges we face individually and as a community often invoke feelings of anger, confusion, or helplessness in us.  Our minds spin and our blood pressure rises.  Loving God, anoint us with your Holy Spirit so that we have righteous convictions to courageously bear the truth of your presence and love in the world.  Empower us to go about the holy work of mending the fraying fabric of society, so that we may complete Christ’s reconciling work.  In his name we pray, amen.    

A time for personal reflection and confession.

Words of Assurance   Rev. Elsa A. Cook

Our God knows you by name.  Our God knows what you fear.  For you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  In your name, God’s works are revealed again to us.

Passing the Peace

1 Samuel 3:1-20

3:1 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD under Eli. The word of the LORD was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.

3:2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room;

3:3 the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.

3:4 Then the LORD called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!”

3:5 and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down.

3:6 The LORD called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.”

3:7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.

3:8 The LORD called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy.

3:9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

3:10 Now the LORD came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

3:11 Then the LORD said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle.

3:12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end.

3:13 For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.

3:14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.”

3:15 Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the LORD. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli.

3:16 But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” He said, “Here I am.”

3:17 Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.”

3:18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, “It is the LORD; let him do what seems good to him.”

3:19 As Samuel grew up, the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.

3:20 And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the LORD.

Sermon: “Chosen to Lead

Pastoral Prayer  

The Offering

The Prayer of Dedication Rev. J.M. Deal

Christ comes! Our hearts are full, our joy is boundless.  May this offering be a living message of peace, love, spirit, joy and hope to this church, to this community, to this nation and world.  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. 

Closing Hymn:  “Act Justly” Sheet music resource


“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: January 15th

January 15, 2021


Dear St. Paul’s Friends & Family,

“As Samuel grew up, the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground” (1 Samuel 3:19)

What does a leader look like?  What do you expect from a leader?  I doubt most of us would look toward a child for leadership, but that’s exactly what happens in today’s text from 1 Samuel.  The Prophet Samuel’s call story begins before his birth.  His mother Hannah had been unable to have any children and was considered barren.  In the ancient world she was considered to be to be cursed, and out of her pain spent years praying for God to bless her with a child, which is exactly what God did.  Hannah’s response to this gift was to give her first born son back to God.  She presented him to the high priest Eli at the holy site at Shiloh.

Samuel’s story gets more intriguing in that God spoke to him while he was still a young boy.  The message that God wanted him to tell was not the type of work that most of us would entrust to a child, but God saw fit to give him an important message to deliver to his mentor, Eli.  The message that Samuel was called to proclaim was one of judgement upon Eli, his sons, and all of the generations that would come after him.  Eli’s sons had misused their positions of authority as priests to get rich and exploit those who relied on them to do God’s work.  Eli, for his part, failed to discipline them, so God decided to revoke the divine mandate that made Eli and his offspring priests of Israel.

There are a lot of things we can learn from this ancient story.  Two important takeaways are that God does care about those who are called to lead his people, and that any of us may be called on by God to lead.  Samuel’s young age did not disqualify him from holy work.  The arrival of Jesus further distributes the divine work that will need to be done in the world.  Disciples from all ages and walks of life will answer Jesus’ call to “Come and follow me.”  They will be entrusted to the important leadership work of building God’s peaceable kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.  This work continues to this day.  Each of us are called to lead in our own way.  May we follow the examples of Samuel and the first disciples as we commit ourselves to words and actions that show others God’s love and peace.   

May God bless us on this journey of discovery and faith!  Please don’t hesitate to call me if you are in need of pastoral care.  My number is: 814-279-5504.


Pastor Matt

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Church Council Update: Worship in January

January 6, 2021


St. Paul’s Church Council held a special meeting on Monday, January 4th to set the worship schedule for the upcoming weeks.  Council carefully considered the current COVID-19 data in Somerset County, physician advice from within the congregation, the continuing increase in hospitalizations in our local hospitals, and the anticipation of a post holiday surge in COVID-19 infections, similar to the one we saw following Thanksgiving and decided to continue the current pause of in-person worship gatherings through January 31st.  This difficult decision was made in the interest of trying to care for our church members, while also being a good neighbor by limiting events that could lead to the further spread of COVID-19 in our community.

Your continued prayers and support are greatly appreciated as we continue to navigate through these trying and unprecedented times.  Please say some special prayers for the members and friends of our church family who have been sickened with the virus over the last couple of months.  Our faith tradition teaches us that the God who gave sight to the blind and empowered the lame to walk is also on our side, healing and restoring us.  May the saving work of the Great Physician, Jesus, our Lord, protect us, our church, and community.  As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you need anything.  My number is 279-5504.  I look forward to our time of worship online and over the phone.  Please stay safe and be well!


Pastor Matt

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January’s Mission Offering: CWS Blankets

January 1, 2021


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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A New Year’s Greeting from Pastor Matt

January 1, 2021


Dear St. Paul’s Family,

The tree may be down and the decorations put away, but the effects of Christmas are still with us.  Unlike 21st century hospitals, where mother and child have a short stay, Jesus and his family spent months, if not years in Bethlehem.  The story goes that it took the three kings a couple of years to reach the Christ-child.  Yet, despite their late arrival, they still felt the call to come and worship the Lord.

Such is our calling.  Our calling is to come and learn about the God who is now living in our midst.  Like the magi of old, we are journeying on the road of life.  There’s no way to anticipate what or who we will meet along the way, but one thing is certain, Jesus meets us again and again on the road.  

We are sojourners and like the magi, God calls us to encounter Jesus.  What might Jesus tell us when we meet him?  What might he have us do?  How might we respond?  The miracle of Christmas is that God is one of us.  The miracle of our lives is that God invites us to be part of Christ’s body, Christ’s work.

I pray that each of us may live more fully into the journey that God has called us, and may the Holy Spirit be with us as we are at work in God’s kingdom in 2021.


Pastor Matt

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A New Way To Give

March 27, 2020


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!


Pastor Matt

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