• ReadSt. Paul's Weekly Update
    2nd Sunday in Lent Weekend of February 28th, 2020

    The Suffering of Lent

    Throughout Lent, we see the reality that suffering and salvation go hand in hand. Jesus willingly suffered so that we could be saved. He "humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:8, Verse of the Day)."


    Suffering and salvation go hand in hand for us, too. Our Savior Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow him. Crosses don't feel good! The suffering of following Jesus involves the suffering of temptation and doubt, of struggling against the sinful nature, and of being persecuted for the faith. The Christian faith never says this life will be all sunshine and rainbows!


    So we pray to Christ our suffering and victorious Savior for forgiveness when we fail to take up our cross, and we pray to him for the strength to suffer willingly for him.


    Prayer of the Day for the 2nd Sunday in Lent:

    Almighty God, you see that we have no power to defend ourselves. Guard and keep us both outwardly and inwardly from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.



    Worship & Bible Class


    -- Sunday Worship is at 8:00am and 10:30 (mask-optional), with Bible Class and Sunday School in-between.

    -- Monday night worship (mask-required) is at 6:30pm.

    -- Midweek Lent Worship is at 3:30 & 6:30 (both mask-optional), 6:30 livestreamed. This week we welcome Pastor Andrew Retberg of St. John's, Brockway, as our guest preacher under the theme: Hands of the Passion--Hands of Brutality (Soldiers).


    -- The livestream of Sunday 8:00am and the Midweek 6:30pm services can be found here (Sunday Bible study livestream can be found there as well). See worship preparation below to get the hymns and readings ready (or find bulletin here)


    -- Private communion always available by appointment. Don't let anything separate you from God's means of grace! Call the office or call/email Pastor Naumann (412-0232); Pastor Buelow (412-0458)


    -- Check the latest bulletin & the calendar for up to date announcements.


    -- This past weekend Pastor Buelow presented an abbreviated study of Paul Gerhardt's Life and Hymns called "Stand Firm: The Power of Lutheran Song in our Wandering Through Death to Life" at a men's conference at his brother's church in Wisconsin (it became quite the Buelow reunion with 4 Buelow presenters--two brothers and the father!). If you'd like to see it, his presentation is recorded here (audio improves after 30 seconds): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhNiML0hwzY. The handout can be downloaded here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1RTOHfRbiwCC-q487DTxdRVsowP5t62cF/view?usp=sharing For those interested, the rest of the conference information and other presentations can be found here: https://www.stpaulclintonville.com/2021-conference?fbclid=IwAR0SThcw4jF2xuwpR9S0EmyyGUgxDldoGGCcChFYEIGbQDRxSat0N50jzgI


    -- Keep in your prayers:

    Mrs. Janna Needham, who received a call this past Sunday to serve as part-time teacher here at St. Paul's;

    Mr. Jordan Siegler, who continues to deliberate a call to teach grades 4-5 and help with music and coaching at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Aurora, IL.


    God bless you as you serve Him!


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    1. published a newsletter

      ReadSt. Paul's Weekly Update
      Ash Wednesday & First Sunday in Lent Weekend of February 21st, 2020

      The Humility of Lent

      On Ash Wednesday, we often focus on the story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. The Pharisee is proud and tries to justify himself in the eyes of others and the eyes of God. "I thank God that I am not like other people!" The Tax Collector is humble and desperately acknowledges that he could never justify himself before God. He says, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner."


      During Lent, we humble ourselves to say the same thing, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner." But that doesn't make Lent about our humility and repentance. In fact, if that is what Lent becomes about, then it isn't humble at all! "God, I thank you that I am so humble and repentant!"


      No. The humility of Lent moves quickly from confession of sin to confession of Christ. From "me, the sinner" to the "Lord, who shows mercy." As our verse of the day for Ash Wednesday says: Return (Repent!) to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love (Joel 2:13). Humble repentance is all about what John the Baptist once said, "He (Jesus) must increase, I must decrease."


      Through private confession to God in prayer or to a pastor, through examining your life in the light of God's Word, through personal devotions and public worship, this Lent fix your eyes on Jesus whose forgiving grace always increases in the lives of humbled sinners.


      Prayer of the Day for Ash Wednesday:

      Almighty and merciful God, you never despise what you have made and always forgive those who turn to you. Create in us such new and contrite hearts that we may truly repent of our sins and obtain your full and gracious pardon; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.



      Worship & Bible Class


      -- Sunday Worship is at 8:00am and 10:30 (mask-optional), with Bible Class and Sunday School in-between.


      -- Monday night worship (mask-required) is at 6:30pm.


      -- Ash Wednesday Worship 3:30 & 6:30 (both mask-optional), 6:30 livestreamed.


      -- The livestream of Sunday 8:00am and the Midweek 6:30pm services can be found here (Sunday Bible study livestream can be found there as well). See worship preparation below to get the hymns and readings ready (or find bulletin here)


      -- Private communion always available by appointment. Don't let anything separate you from God's means of grace! Call the office or call/email Pastor Naumann (412-0232); Pastor Buelow (412-0458)


      -- Wednesday Bible studies on hold until after Lent.


      -- Check the latest bulletin & the calendar for up to date announcements.


      -- Prayer request: Keep in your prayers our teacher Mr. Jordan Siegler, who is deliberating a call to teach grades 4-5 and help with music and coaching at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Aurora, IL.


      God bless you as you serve Him!


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      1. ReadSt. Paul's Weekly Update
        Last Sunday after Epiphany Weekend of February 14th, 2020

        Better Than a Tanning Bed

        I don't know about you, but the cold months of winter have started to change me--and not in a good way. I've been inside so much, without any sun, that my normally pasty white skin is reaching a blinding glow.


        Sometimes when people need more sun, or want healthier looking skin, they fly to Florida. Those who can't sometimes resort to a tanning bed. Like sitting in the sunlight for a while, the tanning bed "changes you into the likeness" of a tanner person.


        The long winter of this sinful world can change us--and not for the better. We can spend so much time experiencing "the love of many growing cold" (Matthew 24:12) that we ourselves lose the glow of God's love.


        So this Sunday we'll hop in a sort of spiritual tanning bed! At the close of Epiphany, we join several of the disciples on the mountain of Transfiguration, and bask in the blinding (not pasty, but glorious!) light of Christ. Basking in the glorious light and love of Christ who set aside his glory to die for us changes us in a very good way. It prepares us to suffer as Christ suffered, and it prepares us to one day be changed into the glorious likeness of Christ in heaven. As we pray in the prayer of the day for this weekend:


        "Lord God, before the suffering and death of your one and only Son, you revealed his glory on the holy mountain. Grant that we who bear his cross on earth may behold by faith the light of his heavenly glory and so be changed into his likeness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen."




        Worship & Bible Class


        -- Sunday Worship is at 8:00am and 10:30 (mask-optional), with Bible Class and Sunday School in-between.


        -- Monday night worship (mask-required) is at 6:30pm.


        -- The livestream of Sunday 8:00am can be found here (Sunday Bible study livestream can be found there as well). See worship preparation below to get the hymns and readings ready (or find bulletin here)


        -- Private communion always available by appointment. Don't let anything separate you from God's means of grace! Call the office or call/email Pastor Naumann (412-0232); Pastor Buelow (412-0458)


        -- Wednesday Bible studies have their final week this week before Lent. Civil Government continues in the morning, and Jeremiah will continue in the 7pm class (find Jeremiah class materials by clicking here). Join Wednesdays at 10am or 7pm in the same way--through the Zoom app, meeting ID: 813 9931 8006, passcode: 011081, or click: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81399318006?pwd=ZW5JR3BDL3d1RzNTZzNTZDlreEVrZz09


        -- Check the latest bulletin & the calendar for up to date announcements.


        --Lent begins next week with Ash Wednesday, which also kicks off our midweek Lenten rotation on the series: "The Hands of the Passion."


        God bless you as you serve Him!



        ** Picture above: "The Transfiguration of Christ by Carl H. Bloch 1834-1890


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        1. published a newsletter

          ReadSt. Paul's Weekly Update
          Fifth Sunday after Epiphany Weekend of February 7th, 2020

          Better Than a Tanning Bed

          I don't know about you, but the cold months of winter have started to change me--and not in a good way. I've been inside so much, without any sun, that my normally pasty white skin is reaching a blinding glow.


          Sometimes when people need more sun, or want healthier looking skin, they fly to Florida. Those who can't sometimes resort to a tanning bed. Like sitting in the sunlight for a while, the tanning bed "changes you into the likeness" of a tanner person.


          The long winter of this sinful world can change us--and not for the better. We can spend so much time experiencing "the love of many growing cold" (Matthew 24:12) that we ourselves lose the glow of God's love.


          So this Sunday we'll hop in a sort of spiritual tanning bed! At the close of Epiphany, we join several of the disciples on the mountain of Transfiguration, and bask in the blinding (not pasty, but glorious!) light of Christ. Basking in the glorious light and love of Christ who set aside his glory to die for us changes us in a very good way. It prepares us to suffer as Christ suffered, and it prepares us to one day be changed into the glorious likeness of Christ in heaven. As we pray in the prayer of the day for this weekend:


          "Lord God, before the suffering and death of your one and only Son, you revealed his glory on the holy mountain. Grant that we who bear his cross on earth may behold by faith the light of his heavenly glory and so be changed into his likeness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen."




          Worship & Bible Class


          -- Sunday Worship is at 8:00am and 10:30 (mask-optional), with Bible Class and Sunday School in-between.


          -- Monday night worship (mask-required) is at 6:30pm.


          -- The livestream of Sunday 8:00am can be found here (Sunday Bible study livestream can be found there as well). See worship preparation below to get the hymns and readings ready (or find bulletin here)


          -- Private communion always available by appointment. Don't let anything separate you from God's means of grace! Call the office or call/email Pastor Naumann (412-0232); Pastor Buelow (412-0458)


          -- Wednesday Bible studies have their final week this week before Lent. Civil Government continues in the morning, and Jeremiah will continue in the 7pm class (find Jeremiah class materials by clicking here). Join Wednesdays at 10am or 7pm in the same way--through the Zoom app, meeting ID: 813 9931 8006, passcode: 011081, or click: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81399318006?pwd=ZW5JR3BDL3d1RzNTZzNTZDlreEVrZz09


          -- Check the latest bulletin & the calendar for up to date announcements.


          --Lent begins next week with Ash Wednesday, which also kicks off our midweek Lenten rotation on the series: "The Hands of the Passion."


          God bless you as you serve Him!



          ** Picture above: "The Transfiguration of Christ by Carl H. Bloch 1834-1890


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          1. ReadSt. Paul's Weekly Update
            Fourth Sunday after Epiphany Weekend of January 31, 2020

            Introduction & Notes

            We Are Surrounded


            The prayer of the day for this Sunday starts this way: Lord God, you know that we are surrounded by many dangers... No one needs to remind us of that, do they? And the prayer gets worse! It continues: ...we often stumble and fall.


            Not only are we surrounded by many dangers, but we also often stumble and fall because of them, falling into sin and doubt. Which is why we need the end of the prayer!


            Strengthen us in body and mind, and bring us safely through all temptations; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


            We are surrounded by danger. We stumble and fall. So we pray! We pray to Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord who never stumbled and never fell, even when facing the Devil and his demons (see the gospel text for this week). We pray to him for strength, and through Word and Sacrament, he gives it. Through faith in him we are declared righteous--free from the danger of sin--and we are surrounded by something else...


            "Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield." Psalm 5:12


            Surrounded with God's favor, you have nothing to fear today.




            Worship & Bible Class


            -- Sunday Worship is at 8:00am and 10:30 (mask-optional), with Bible Class and Sunday School in-between.


            -- Monday night worship (mask-required) is at 6:30pm.


            -- The livestream of Sunday 8:00am can be found here (Sunday Bible study livestream can be found there as well). See worship preparation below to get the hymns and readings ready (or find bulletin here)


            -- Private communion always available by appointment. Don't let anything separate you from God's means of grace! Call the office or call/email Pastor Naumann (412-0232); Pastor Buelow (412-0458)


            --Wednesday Bible studies continue! Both studies are still in the church basement for now. Civil Government continues in the morning, and Jeremiah will continue in the 7pm class (find Jeremiah class materials by clicking here). Join today at 10am or 7pm in the same way--through the Zoom app, meeting ID: 813 9931 8006, passcode: 011081, or click: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81399318006?pwd=ZW5JR3BDL3d1RzNTZzNTZDlreEVrZz09


            -- Check the latest bulletin & the calendar for up to date announcements.


            -- Reminder that we have a great St. Paul's App for android phones (click here) that you can use personally and share with others who might be interested. You can find service videos, sermon podcasts, weekly updates and more!



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            1. published a newsletter

              ReadSt. Paul's Weekly Update
              Third Sunday after Epiphany Weekend of January 24, 2020

              Introduction & Notes

              No Need to Lure


              Have you ever heard of phishing emails? They are scam emails that are trying to trick you into giving your personal information away. You might say they are "fishing" for your information. People who come up with these phishing emails, or phone calls, or texts, seem to be getting craftier and craftier (and their spelling has improved!) as they try to lure you in to their schemes.


              In the gospel reading for Sunday, Jesus goes fishing for people--but he isn't very crafty about it. He doesn't try some phishing schemes, tricking people so he can blackmail them into following him. Nope. He simply walks up to Simon and his brother Andrew, and says, "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." And just like that, he caught them!


              He caught us in the same way. None of us were lured into church or into believing in Jesus. He simply came to us in the gospel and in baptism and said, "Come, follow me, I am your Savior." And through the Holy Spirit's power we swallowed the message hook, line and sinker.


              That makes you a fisher of men, too. But don't worry--you don't have to come up with just the right phishing scheme or lure to get someone to believe in Jesus. Let Jesus' straight-forward words do the work, words like the words he preaches at the start of the Gospel reading: "Repent, and believe in the gospel." Pray this week that the Holy Spirit use you to fish for people through the simple gospel message.


              Worship & Bible Class


              -- Sunday Worship is at 8:00am and 10:30 (mask-optional), with Bible Class and Sunday School in-between.


              -- Monday night worship (mask-required) is at 6:30pm.


              -- The livestream of Sunday 8:00am can be found here (Sunday Bible study livestream can be found there as well). See worship preparation below to get the hymns and readings ready (or find bulletin here)


              -- Private communion always available by appointment. Don't let anything separate you from God's means of grace! Call the office or call/email Pastor Naumann (412-0232); Pastor Buelow (412-0458)


              --Wednesday Bible studies continue! Both studies are still in the church basement for now. Civil Government continues in the morning, and Jeremiah will continue in the 7pm class (find materials by clicking here). Join today at 10am or 7pm in the same way--through the Zoom app, meeting ID: 813 9931 8006, passcode: 011081, or click: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81399318006?pwd=ZW5JR3BDL3d1RzNTZzNTZDlreEVrZz09


              -- Check the latest bulletin & the calendar for up to date announcements.



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              1. ReadSt. Paul's Weekly Update
                First Special Anniversary Service & Funeral Announcement Weekend of January 17, 2020

                Introductory Thought

                Seek the Lord on the Dark Days


                Many were disoriented and unsettled by the events of this past week, especially the violence at the Capitol in Washington D.C. Christians hate to witness evidence of the sinfulness in the world and the deep depravity of mankind! We cry out, "Come quickly, Lord Jesus!" And we let moments like these drive you to the Lord in the prayer he taught us:


                -- "Our Father in Heaven": Like little children scared in the dark, we settle into our good Father's lap in prayer. We don't understand all that is going on and we don't know exactly what to do about it, but we trust that He knows all things and He knows what to do, that nothing can separate us from his love, and that he works all things for the eternal good of his children.


                --"Hallowed be your name": God's name is holy, good and perfect, set apart from all such atrocities. So we pray that God would lead us to call upon his holy name in every trouble, and allow us to reflect his holiness in all we believe, say, and do.


                --"Your kingdom come": God's kingdom comes all by itself, but we pray that God's kingdom would continue to come into the hearts of all people, not through force, but through the Word of God. We pray especially for those whose hearts have made an earthly kingdom their idol, that they come to know Jesus' kingdom which is not of this world, and which gives peace this world cannot give.


                --"Your will be done, on earth as in heaven." We are confident that God's will is done no matter what, but we also pray that it may be done in our hearts. So we pray that God would destroy whatever evil the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh want to bring out of this tragedy. Instead, we pray that God would use this to drive us back to his Word and Sacrament to be strengthened in faith.


                --"Give us today our daily bread." God gives good gifts to all people--even to the wicked, to me, to all those I am angry with or disgusted with right now, and to those with whom I disagree. I am no better than God! So I pray that I, too, may give good to all, even those I consider wicked, by praying for them and doing good to them. I also thank God, and ask God to continue to provide for all of us peace and order, godly and faithful leaders, good government, good friends, and faithful neighbors.


                --"Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us." When we see rebellion and rioting, we should not first throw our hands up in disgust at those people. We should remember that this was our attitude towards God from the time we are conceived. God should have put us to death our rebellion, but instead he was merciful to us, and put our hostility to death by putting his son to death on the cross in our place. What glorious undeserved love! God not give up on us in disgust--he forgave us in Christ! He still forgives us daily as we fight against our rebellious sinful flesh and enable us to forgive others from the heart.


                In blind revolt we would not see

                that rebel wills wrought death and night.

                We seized and used in fear and spite

                your wondrous gift of liberty...

                You came into our hall of death, O Christ,

                to breathe our poisoned air,

                to drink for us the deep despair

                that strangled our reluctant breath.

                How beautiful the feet that trod

                the road to bring good news from God!

                How beautiful the feet that bring

                good tidings of our saving King!"

                -CW 400:2, 3 (Martin Franzmann)


                --"Lead us not into temptation." Pray that God would not allow moments like these to lead us into despair, but instead lead us back to Christ and the victory we have in him.


                --"But deliver us from evil." We ask for God's protection and care for all people in our country in times of unrest, and we look forward in faith to the time when Jesus will deliver us from evil once and for all by taking us out of this sin-sick world to himself in heaven.


                --"For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen." The United States is just a tiny pawn in God's grand ruling of the universe. God is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His is the glory and the power. And he has promised to answer our prayers according to his good will. Amen. Yes it shall be so.

                1. published a newsletter

                  ReadSt. Paul's Weekly Update
                  Second Sunday in Epiphany Weekend of January 10, 2020

                  Introduction & Notes

                  2021 is a time for...


                  Losing weight? Getting in shape? Changing my habits? Going on a trip? Going out of the house? Getting back to normal?


                  You may feel like now that it's 2021 it is time for a lot of things. For the Christian, we know it is definitely time for the most important thing: The Kingdom of God to come into our lives!


                  What is the kingdom of God? It is God's gracious ruling work in our hearts through the Gospel! When Jesus started his ministry (which we'll talk about this weekend), his first sermon recorded in Mark is, "The time is fulfilled! The Kingdom of God is at hand! Repent and believe in the gospel." The kingdom of God is still at hand today through the same gospel that Jesus preached and embodied.


                  So 2021 is time for... for me to repent daily and to believe in the good news about the Kingdom of God!


                  Notes


                  -- Merry Christmas and Happy New Year St. Paul's family! "Though we are many, we are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another." (Romans 12:5) What a blessing to be united with each other through our Savior this past year! In the new year pray to Jesus that we may have the strength to love each other as one body as he instructs: "Be devoted to one another with brotherly love. Think of others as deserving more honor than yourselves... Be joyful in hope. Endure trials patiently. Persist in prayer... (Romans 12:10-12)." Endure and persist, because remember, it won't be long until Jesus returns. With every passing year and every passing day, "our salvation is nearer now than we we first believed (Romans 13:11)."


                  --Bible studies resume today! Both studies are in the church basement for now. For this week, the 10am will be on Zoom again, and the 7pm will finish up its study on Civil Government. Next week Civil Government begins in the morning, and Pastor Buelow will begin a study on Jeremiah in the 7pm class. We will gauge interest to see which ones will be made available online.


                  --Join today at 10am through the Zoom app, meeting ID: 813 9931 8006, passcode: 011081, or click: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81399318006?pwd=ZW5JR3BDL3d1RzNTZzNTZDlreEVrZz09


                  -- Thank you to everyone who helped take down the Christmas decorations!


                  -- Check the latest bulletin & the calendar for up to date announcements, and a list of our newly installed officers for 2021.


                  Worship


                  -- Sunday Worship is at 8:00am and 10:30 (mask-optional), with Bible Class and Sunday School in-between.


                  -- Monday night worship (mask-required) is at 6:30pm.


                  -- The livestream of Sunday 8:00am can be found here. See worship preparation below to get the hymns and readings ready (or find bulletin here)


                  -- DVDs and sermon copies are available by contacting the church office, between 9am-12pm on weekdays.


                  -- Private communion always available by appointment. Don't let anything separate you from God's means of grace! Call the office or call/email Pastor Naumann (412-0232); Pastor Buelow (412-0458)



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                  1. published a newsletter

                    ReadSt. Paul's Christmas Schedule
                    Week of the Celebration of Christ's Birth 2020 A.D.

                    Christmas Greeting and Schedule

                    For to us...


                    Isn't it exciting when someone is about to have a baby? Family members and close friends wait on pins and needles for the text or phone call that says, "Yep, she's this big and mom is doing fine..."


                    For the parents, it's almost too much. God has entrusted this little child to me? What a gift. What grace.


                    This week, we celebrate a gift and grace infinitely greater through the child that comes for us. Jesus was not just a cute little baby for his parents. He is the ruler of the universe, the wonderful counselor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace! All packed into a 6 pound or so infant, and entrusted to us.


                    What a gift! What grace! The fact that Jesus came into this world, "born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law" means that he is all of those things Isaiah listed for us. He came to us, even though we could never keep God's law perfectly the way he demands, and so deserve eternal death. He rules the world in truth and grace--for us--forgiving our trespasses against God's law! He wonderfully counsels us, giving us new birth through his good news! He is our mighty God! He is our caring Father! And he rules as the prince of our heart through faith, and gives us peace.


                    How exciting is it that we get to celebrate that this week!? "For to us a child is born!" I'm on pins and needles as I wait to join the angels and our congregation of believers to sing in joy, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill toward mankind."



                    Worship Service Times


                    Christmas Eve Worship

                    2:00pm (mask-required)

                    4:00pm (Livestreamed)

                    6:30pm


                    Christmas Day Worship with Communion

                    9:30am (also livestreamed)



                    -Sunday Worship, the 27th, is at 8:00am and 10:30 (mask-optional), with no Bible Class and Sunday School this week.


                    -Monday night worship, the 28th, (mask-required) is at 6:30pm.


                    -New Year's Eve Worship is at 6:30pm.


                    -The livestreams of the 4:00 Christmas service, the 9:30 Christmas Day service, and the other services can be found on our youtube page. See worship preparation below to get the hymns and readings ready (or find bulletin here)



                    A note on loving each other as we make different worship decisions


                    As we see people make different decisions in regard to worship than us, remember 1 Corinthians 13 and the love God demands from us, including love that is not selfish (1 Cor 13:5). The Greek is οὐ ζητεῖ τὰ ἑαυτῆς (oo zaytee ta eautays), which means "it is not seeking its own," in other words, "it does not insist on its own way." That verse continues, "[Love] is not irritable. It does not keep a record of wrongs."


                    This means that there may be a way I want people to behave, but love does not insist on its own way. There may be irritation I feel when people make decisions I feel are wrong, but love is not irritable. I may feel people have wracked up a bunch of wrongs against me by the way they have been acting, but love does not keep a record of wrongs.


                    For those of us on either side of personal decisions where there is no explicit command from God, we need to repent of our sometimes loveless hearts towards our brothers and sisters in Christ, for whom Christ died! We need to repent when we have allowed the irritation and records of wrong that are so common in the world today become part of Christ's family, which is not of this world! I need to repent of this every day.


                    We do repent--and we return to the one who is love for our forgiveness. If anyone could have insisted on his own way, it is Jesus, the LORD of heaven and earth. But he did not. He lovingly submitted to the Father's plan for him to come into this world and lovingly serve people who did not deserve his love. The good news of Christmas is that he sought you, and instead of being irritated at our failure to love, he loved us all the more. He was born out of love for you, and he died on the cross--not to keep a record of our wrongs, but to forgive us and to purge the record of wrongs against us. Because of Jesus, we instead have a record of perfect love toward each other in God's eyes. Jesus' perfect, selfless, non-irritable, no-record-of-wrong-keeping love is what we have for each other through our one baptism into Christ.


                    All of us with our different opinions and different decisions are united in Christ and his love. As 1 Corinthians 12 says, "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we all were baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free people, and we were all caused to drink one Spirit... The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need for you,' or again to the feet, 'I have no need for you'... You are the body of Christ, and individually you are members of it."


                    If you love Christ (and you do!), remember that you love all of him. Christ is the head of his body--and what a wonderful leader he is who leads us to grow together into his love! I love Jesus, the head of the body! Which means I can't help but love the other body parts too. When you see or talk to someone who is making a different decision than you, say to yourself, "There is part of Christ's body! I'm so glad they are, and I'm so glad they are different than me. If I love the head of Christ's body, so I love his hand, eye, and foot too."


                    This Christmas season, we sing with the angels, "Glory to the newborn king! Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!" So rejoice! We are reconciled, one with God through his love in Christ! And rejoice! That love reconciles us to each other too. "We love, because he first loved us."


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                    1. ReadSt. Paul's Update
                      Funeral Announcement +Della Mae Premo+

                      Our dear sister in Christ, Della Premo, was called to her eternal home yesterday. Even as they mourn, the family rejoices in the promises God made to Della in her baptism. Her body, sanctified by the Holy Spirit, now rests until the last day. Her soul, purchased by the blood of Christ, rejoices in the loving presence of her Father. We mourn and rejoice with them with the same faith that Della had--faith in our loving Savior Jesus Christ.


                      The funeral will take place at St. Paul's on Monday, December 21st, at 11:30am. Visitation will also take place at the church, beginning at 10:30am. The committal will follow the service, at Roselawn Cemetery.


                      The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

                      He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

                      he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul:

                      he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

                      Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

                      I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;

                      thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

                      Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:

                      thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

                      Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:

                      and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.


                      Psalm 23