Shared Vision

September 2020

From the Pastor's Desk:

SHOULD I TELL YOU HOW TO VOTE?

Election season is always an interesting time for me as a pastor. I remember being offered "voting guides" for distribution at a previous congregation. These "guides" purported to help Christians know how to vote. The assumption was that there was one Christian perspective on every major issue. Sometimes this offer came from people in the community, but at least once it was a member who wanted to pass them out. Every time they were offered, I politely declined. Why?

Vocation

First of all, because the Lutheran Church does not believe it is the responsibility of the pastor or the church to tell people how to vote. We teach that it is the calling of each Christian to decide whom to vote for.

The Latin word for "calling" is Vocation. Vocation means much more than one's paid occupation. It refers instead to the various roles into which a person is called in life. One may be a Husband or Wife, Mother or Father, Son or Daughter, Brother or Sisters. One may be an employer, employee, teacher, student, doctor, nurse or patient, merchant, banker, home builder, or a baker. All of these are Vocations, callings from God.

We are called into service not only in the Home and Church, but in the arena of the State. Many serve in public office as elected officials. In the justice system people serve as jurors, lawyers, judges, police officers and corrections officers. Others serve their nation as members of the Armed Forces. In the United States, every citizen over the age of 18 is also called to vote. Ultimately, it is God who calls us to choose the people who will govern our city, county, state and nation.

That is why it is wrong for a pastor or church official to tell you how to vote. If I do that, I am usurping your office, your Vocation. My Vocation as a pastor is to publicly teach and preach God's Word. If you stormed the pulpit on a Sunday morning and tried to preach, you would be trying to usurp my office. In the same way, if I try to step into the voting booth with you and tell you how to vote, I would be usurping your office. By training and by calling, I am the one qualified to preach. Nothing, however, makes me more qualified than you to decide who to vote for.

Political Philosophy

In a similar manner, the Lutheran Church has no official political philosophy. Search the Lutheran Confessions and you will find no discussion of whether a monarchy, democracy, republic, or some other type of system is better. We do not tell you whether as a Christian you should be a conservative, liberal, or a socialist. Is it better to have a king, queen, president, or prime minister? Again there is no answer. Most of the early Lutherans were ruled by emperors, kings and princes, although a few lived in free cities with elected councils. However, the fact that they took that form of government for granted does not mean that we are bound to it today.

Fanaticism[1]

One thing that Lutherans have typically opposed is fanaticism, or what Lutherans call enthusiasm. Enthusiasm has two key characteristics. First is the belief that one has direct knowledge of the mind of God that bypasses both Scripture and reason. Inspired leaders believe that they have received a direct revelation of God's will. The second is the belief that the cause is so urgent that God's will may be imposed on others by any means necessary, including violence.

In 1521 and 1522, a group of fanatical leaders took over the churches of Wittenberg. Luther had been forced to hide out from the Emperor in the Wartburg Castle. While Luther was away, the fanatics decided to go forward with a program of reform. However, they did it in a very destructive way. They were impatient about making changes, so they imposed them on the people. They failed to take the time to educate the people on the changes or give them time to adjust to new practices. The result was much violence and destruction. Luther left hiding and returned to Wittenberg to oppose the fanatics.

[1] This section and the next is inspired by a lecture given by Dr. Steven Paulson. https://youtu.be/XoxvX-HzwZA 

Love of Neighbor

In a series of sermons delivered in March of 1522, Luther criticized the fanatics. They were correct in saying that Christians are free from man-made traditions and rules. Many of the practices of the medieval church were in need of reform. What they had forgotten, however, was their obligation to love their brothers and sisters. In their zeal to reform the Church, they had done more harm than good, because they did not consider the results of their actions on others.

If there is any clear Lutheran principle that applies to politics, this is it. We are saved by faith alone. However, real faith is always made manifest in love for one's neighbor. As Paul says in Galatians, faith must be active in love. Each one of us is called to exercise our love for our neighbors in how we vote. In the end, we will all stand alone before God. There we will not be judged by which group we belonged to. It will not matter whether we were Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives. Only two things will matter, faith and love.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. David A. Charlton

Missionary News

The Young Adults in Global Missions is a new program developed by our Evangelical Luther Church in America to interest young people to become missionaries and to teach them what it takes to be missionaries. St. Paul's foreign missionary, Rev. Kristin Engstrom, assignment is to be the country coordinator of the Young Adults in Global Missions program in the African country of Senegal. Pastor Kristin wrote that her first group consisted of five young adults. They spent almost a year with her, from August to July. They spent a week in July reviewing their services and the program. Their input will help Pastor Kristin find ways to improve YAGM. A second, third and fourth groups of young adults have since then arrived in Senegal in August to begin their year of service as missionaries. She had to find the individuals in each group places to live and work with the Lutherans and citizens of Senegal. They need to interact with the local people. She has had the help of the personnel of the Lutheran Church of Senegal increase their faiths and the Lutheran Development of Senegal with their projects. Her experience from helping and guiding the previous groups has assisted her in leading new groups. Let us continue to pray for Pastor Kristin, for the young adults in the YAGM program, for the Lutheran Church in Senegal, and for the Lutheran Development Services. Let us continue help Pastor Kristin with our financial gifts to Mission Support.

Newberry College

Education. Do I need more education? That is a question many people have asked and will ask. Today our world is becoming more and more advanced. We are using more technology. To succeed an individual need special skills. Advanced education is a way to obtain those important skills. Long ago Lutheran congregations in South Carolina saw the need for additional higher education for their members. In 1856, they founded Newberry College at Newberry, in central South Carolina. Our Lutheran churches have always seen the need for all forms of education: Sunday schools, preschools, elementary and high schools, colleges and universities. Lutherans see education as a preparation for life, for an occupation. Newberry College is supported by Lutherans in the South Carolina Synod, in the Southeastern Synod, and in our Florida Synod. Newberry College is a fully accredited, undergraduate college for the liberal arts, sciences and education. Lutheran Church members therefore are given special consideration when enrolling and also receive reduced fees. St. Paul Church members would receive those considerations. One of St. Paul's members, April Ballard, has gone to and graduated from Newberry College. She recommends the college. Other St. Paul's high school graduates should consider Newberry College when selecting a college. Let us support our Newberry College and its students with prayers and by giving gifts to Mission Outreach.

LUTHERAN MEN In MISSION

September 2020 Bible Study Breakfast

The LMM monthly Bible Study will be Saturday, September 19, at 7:30 A. M. in the Parish Hall. We are continuing the Course on "Spirituality." This is the third session where we will be discussing the subject "Maturing in Christ: Called to Discipleship." The Bible study topic is "Kingdom Priorities: 'Using your gifts'" (Romans 12:1-8). This Bible Study will follow Option 2: Advanced: Teaching with Margin Questions.

Romans 12:1-8 (NIV)

A Living Sacrifice

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Humble Service in the Body of Christ

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

The Following is a Modified Excerpt from "A Commentary on Romans 12:1-8" by Mark Reasoner, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies, Bethel University, St. Paul, MN

It's easy for us to read the first two verses of this chapter and start taking personality inventories for personal growth plans. But after the initial challenge to present our bodies as living sacrifices by deliberately turning from the world's pull to the renewed thought patterns God has for us (12:1-2), Paul completes his description of how to think by bringing into view what it means to live with other believers (12:3-8). Paul's first concern for people who would present themselves to God is that these people live as full members of the body of Christ, contributing to the life of the church according to the measure of faith God has given them.

Paul's letter does not contain the message of self-esteem that some subcultures promote today. The first challenge Paul offers, probably as a specification of not being conformed to the world, is not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think (12:3). This is not an isolated idea in Romans (see also 11:18, 20b; 12:10b, 16). Paul is asking us to pray and live so that we do not turn ourselves into people God would not have us become. Instead of thinking of ourselves too highly, we are to think of ourselves according to "the measure of faith that God has assigned" (12:3).

Different amounts and types of faith may lead people to different roles according to the gifts God has given to us. Paul's main point about spiritual gifts, mentioned in verse 6, is that God has given us these as members of the body of Christ. So we are to use the particular gift God has given us to help the body function, not to promote ourselves or show how we as one body part are better than others who are another body part.

Discussion will focus on the dangers associated with conforming to the world, especially in today's increasingly secular society. In what areas do you think Christians are conforming where perhaps they shouldn't? What does it mean "to offer your bodies as living sacrifices?" How does the "renewing of your mind" happen - and with what result? Are we using our gifts in the way God wants? If not, why not?

All men of the congregation are invited to attend.

USAA MEMBERS

Financial aid is available at zero precent loans. To apply, go to:

https://www.usaa.com/inet/wc/coronavirus-info-usaa-members

Lutheran World Relief Quilters

Lutheran World Relief Quilters continue to meet each month on the third Saturday and the Friday before that Saturday. In September we will meet on September 18 and 19. As always we begin about 9:30 in the Parish Hall. Come and check it out. Stay a few minutes or all day. We love visitors.

Since the Coronavirus emerged in March, we have had fewer volunteers than usual. However, more of our workers are returning each month. We have completed just over 100 quilts since our last shipment went out in August, 2019. You may have noticed that we did not have our usual quilt display, blessing and shipping in August 2020. Our ingathering of LWR Quilts and Kits in Daphne, Alabama, has been postponed due to the coronavirus. We hope that things will return to normal soon. I'm sure the need for our Quilts, Baby Care Kits, School Kits and Personal Care Kits is still great.

The following article is from LWR.org, the Lutheran World Relief website.

More than $600,000 in humanitarian aid for refugees destroyed in Beirut explosion

By John Rivera, Aug 6, 2020

Three 40-foot shipping containers filled with humanitarian aid that included thousands of handmade quilts and baby-care items were destroyed in the devastating August 4 explosions at the port of Beirut, Lebanon, the NGO Lutheran World Relief learned today.

The shipment, which also included school supplies for students and personal care kits, were destined for refugees living in Lebanon, principally from Syria and the Palestinian territories. The containers were part of a shipment to be distributed by Anera, an NGO and longtime Lutheran World Relief partner that provides humanitarian assistance and sustainable development to advance the well-being of refugees and other vulnerable communities in the Middle East.

The total value of the lost shipments was approximately $624,000.

The loss of more than 22,000 quilts, sewn by individuals and members of Lutheran congregations across the U.S., could mean a more bitter winter for thousands of refugees, said Melanie Gibbons, deputy director, outreach and engagement at Lutheran World Relief.

"Our quilts are made with love by those who painstakingly craft them, and they're deeply appreciated by the people in distress who receive them, both for the warmth and the message of care they provide," Gibbons said.

In addition, the shipping containers held 100 cartons of kits filled with school supplies, 300 cartons of personal care kits and 125 cartons of baby care kits.

"Our hearts are breaking as we grieve and pray with our brothers and sisters in Beirut," said Daniel Speckhard, president & CEO of Lutheran World Relief. "We are committed to replacing the aid that was lost and are working on an emergency response to provide assistance as the city recovers and rebuilds."

The explosions killed more than 150 people, injured more than 5,000 and left at least 300,000 without shelter. The blast was strong enough to register as the equivalent of a 3.3-magnitude earthquake and was felt as far as Cyprus, 150 miles away.

How to help

Donate online: https://lwr.org/beirut

Donate by Phone: +1 (800) 597.5972

Donate by Mail: Lutheran World Relief, PO Box 17061, Baltimore, MD 21297-1061

SUNDAY SCHOOL

The Adult Sunday School is resuming its Weekly Bible Study on September 13 beginning with the New Testament Letters of Peter. The group meets in the Parish Hall after the 8:30 Service each Sunday.

For those who are interested, we will hold Children's Sunday School in Underdahl Hall. There will be tables set up throughout the hall at a safe distance from one another. Children will be placed in small groups based on age. These groups will not exceed ten people, including the teacher. Jo Jones will do the Opening, while children remain at their tables. The opening includes songs, a video, reading from the Bible, and prayer. After the opening, there will be Small Group Time. Each small group discuss the Bible Story for the week, and do an activity to reinforce the story. The hour will end with the Lord's Prayer and a Benediction. Pastor David will do the opening prayer and the benediction. Parents are invited to attend the Opening with their children. After the Opening, parents will be invited to Table Talk, where they will meet in a small group to share their Highs and Lows and discuss how the Story for the week relates to those Highs and Lows. We will need volunteers to serve as Table Leaders. If you are willing or interested please contact the church office. Family Sunday School with Table Talk will start at 9:30 and end at roughly 10:20.

AUTOMATED EXTERNAL DEFIBRILLATORS (AEDS) -

St Paul Lutheran Church has 2 AEDs for use in an emergency. One is located in the Gathering Room hanging on the east wall (near the classroom door) and the other is in the Family Life Center/School in the Lobby.

TATTERED AMERICAN FLAGS

If you have a worn out, tattered, or faded US flag you need to properly dispose of, you can bring it to the church and Don Cleveland will deliver it to his Veterans of Foreign Wars Post for a proper and respectful disposal.

C.A.L.M. House Update: Most recent graduate, Megan (and son), has moved with the help of CH staff and generous donations from our St. Paul Family, including cash for purchases, much needed linens, kitchenware, and living room furniture! Mom was overwhelmed by our kindness and very, very thankful. WELCA thanks all those who shopped, donated, and delivered many of the DREAM LIST items. For now, extra supplies will be stored in our designated FLC closet...until the next graduation! Two moms with their littles (3 girls, 1 boy) currently reside at the house- an expectant Mama arrives August 24 with a planned delivery by Sept. 5. C.A.L.M. House does have an ongoing need for cash donations to help offset lost revenue as a result of COVID-19's impact on their rental venue, formerly known as the C.A.L.M. Chapel. If you are so moved, please make your check out to "C.A.L.M. House and designate "Ven You" on the memo line. These monies may be put into offering plate or dropped off to the church office.



Community Pastoral Counseling

A ministry of St. Paul Lutheran Church and School

Rev. Robert R. Lutz, PhD Diplomate

American Association of Pastoral Counselors

Call 850-843-3083 for Information or to make an appointment