• St. Paul Lutheran Church

November 2021

From the Pastor's Desk


Dear People of St. Paul,


I’m sure you have noticed a lot of changes at St. Paul this fall. On July 24, we had a broken pipe that led to a flood in the Parish Hall. All of the flooring and much of the dry wall had to be replaced. Volunteers helped to salvage as much furniture as possible and relocate classrooms 1 and 2 to Underdahl Hall. Over the next two months, the dry wall was replaced and tile was laid down in both classrooms and the Parish Hall. A decision was made to lay down the same tile in the Garden Narthex and Underdahl Hall. At the same time, the Parish Hall, as well as both classrooms, were repainted.


The whole project was completed in the first week of October. It is amazing what a difference the new tile has made. Thank you to our Trustees Paul Garvey, Steve Clark, Craig Wittmeier and Stan Claypool for all their hard work in supervising this project. Thanks as well to Alec Hritz for doing the painting at a discounted price.


In October, our big project was the Reformation Festival. Because of the spike in COVID-19 cases in August, we decided to change our regular format for the Festival. We did the German Meal on Wednesday night, October 27, instead of Sunday morning. The activities for children, which included a bounce house, maze, slide and obstacle course, took place on Saturday, October 30. Then, our Reformation worship happened at all three services on the weekend of the 31st. We had 102 people at the German Meal, over 200 people who came to the event on Saturday, and 181 in worship for the weekend.


There were many people who made all of this possible. First of all, we thank Lutheran Men in Mission for sponsoring the Reformation Festival, and for renting all of the inflatable rides for the 30th. Thanks to Brad Sanko and the Youth Group for doing games, and for helping run the rides. Thanks to Steve and Regina Humphrey for providing food for the family event on Saturday. Thanks to Carl and Chris Spring for doing such a fine job on the Wednesday meal. Thanks to Beverly Byrne for providing support from the Evangelism Committee.

And finally, thanks to Heather Pinckard and the school staff for their participation.


Thanks is also due to Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, who provided a Thrivent Action Team grant for the education materials that were distributed during the Festival. Over 100 booklets, entitled “Martin Luther – God Loves You!” were distributed to the children of St. Paul Lutheran School. Special coins with the Three Solas on them were distributed to children who came to the festival. Place mats that explained Luther’s Seal, and that included table prayers for families, were used at the German Meal. Finally, Luther’s Seal magnets were given to children during the Children’s Sermon. A Thrivent Grant was also used to provide free hotdogs, chips and drinks during the outdoor family event.


It has been an exciting few months. More exciting events will happen as we move through Thanksgiving and into Advent. In November, we will celebrate WELCA Thankoffering Sunday and work on the Jesse Tree Project. Toward the end of the month we will prepare Thanksgiving Baskets for Sharing and Caring. Then on November 28, Advent will begin. During December we will have Advent Worship every Wednesday, beginning at 6:30 p.m. On December 8, our Wednesday worship will consist of a Christmas Cantata by our Choirs and Praise Team. On December 10, the Niceville High School Singers will perform their Christmas Concert. Then, on Christmas Eve, we will have three services, at 4:30, 7:00 and 11:00 p.m. I’m looking forward to seeing all of you during our holiday season.


Pastor David Charlton


From Pastor Lutz: The End of the Journey


Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: You have seen all the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs and those great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind to understand, or eyes to see, or ears to hear. I have led you forty years in the wilderness. The clothes on your backs have not worn out. And the sandals on your feet have not worn out; you have not eaten bread, and you have not drunk wine or strong drink – so that you may know I am the Lord your God.

Deuteronomy 29:2-6


When the people of Israel were set free from bondage in Egypt, they began a 40-year journey. For 40 years they wandered in the wilderness, waiting for the "promised land". For 40 years they had to hold on in trust and hope in God, until their time in the wilderness was over. During their waiting, the Israelites had times of strength and faithfulness and they had times of doubt and complaint. It's hard to wait for long periods of time, even for something that is promised to be good.


I've felt a little bit like the people of Israel over the past 18 months. We've been waiting to enter the "promised land" of normal life, and in particular, the life of St. Paul Lutheran Church. We're part way to the "promised land" but not yet fully there. Masks, vaccines, and social distancing are still being encouraged, in some places mandated. Prices have risen and many items are difficult to find due to the pandemic's effect on the supply chain. The wilderness journey claimed thousands of lives. The pandemic claimed 700,000 in the US. Yet, we are moving forward daily. We can at least see where we want to be.


Here are a few things to remember as we approach the end of this journey.


  1. God has kept us along the way. In verse 5 of the Deuteronomy passage, we read, "I have led you forty years in the wilderness. The clothes on your back have not worn out and the sandals on your feet have not worn out." As God was with the people during their journey, God has been with us. We have had what we needed, if not what we wanted to stay together as a community of faith. Facebook, emails, phone calls, drive-through communion and food collections and online giving are some of the things we have used to stay together and vital as a congregation.

  2. The Israelites were finally near the end of their wilderness journey, and we are closer to the end of the pandemic. Both situations have an "already now but not yet fully" quality that manifests itself in yet another way for us. The Kingdom of God is already now but not yet fully here. It is here already now through the Word and Sacraments, through the gatherings and enlightening of the Holy Spirit, and through our fellowship in Christ called the Church. These gifts of God give us a foretaste of the Kingdom that is to come fully in God's good time. Meanwhile we are sustained and loved just as the Israelites were in the wilderness and we have been during this pandemic.

  3. We need to remember what we've learned during this wandering. As the people of Israel were taught about being faithful to God and each other, we've learned some things as well. We've seen how important it is to be visible in our community. We've learned it is important to be a public witness of worship, learning, sharing, giving, and connecting. We are called to be a public witness to the love of Jesus. We can continue outreach efforts like online worship and devotions, visiting those in the hospital, taking Communion to those who are homebound, connecting with those interested in our congregation. Soon, Wednesdays will be not just a time for food and fellowship, but also for Bible studies and other learning opportunities that can include our neighbors and friends as well as our members. In many ways, it will be a new normal.


The Lord brought us this far on the way. The Lord cared for the people of Israel for 40 years. Certainly, God has been with us for one and a half years. The Lord will continue to bless us. Let's not forget our call to serve in Jesus' Name as we near the end of this journey.


In Christ's service,

Pastor Lutz

Jesse Tree Devotion Project


Have you heard of the Jesse Tree devotions for advent? The premise of these daily advent devotions is to reflectively study the lineage of Jesus Christ with a daily bible passage and ornament. The Jesse Tree is based on the verse from the prophet Isaiah 11:1 "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” Each day an ornament with special meaning is added to a small, table-top tree until Christmas. There are many wonderful versions of this advent ritual. The St. Paul children’s ministries and WELCA are teaming up to make 60 sets of ornaments that will be paired with a Jesus Storybook Bible and Jesse Tree devotion guide. These advent devotion sets will be available to families within St. Paul Lutheran Church as well as special families who are not necessarily members as an outreach project.


If you are interested in helping with this project or would like more information on the particulars of the devotion distribution, please e-mail Ashley Harte at ashleyharte@me.com. The completed sets will be available the week of Thanksgiving.


Lutheran Men in Mission


November 2021 Bible Study Breakfast


The LMM monthly Bible Study will be Saturday, November 20, at 7:30 A. M. in the Parish Hall. We are continuing the Course on "Spirituality.” This is the fifth and final session where we will be discussing the subject "Whol-i-ness: With Myself, Others and God” The Bible study topic is “Volitional Life: Holy choices‘” (1 Thessalonians 4:1-12). This Bible Study will follow Option 2: Advanced: Teaching with Margin Questions.


1 Thessalonians 4 (NIV)

Living to Please God

1 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.


3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.


9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.


The first three chapters of this letter focus on looking back at Paul’s visit with the Thessalonians and defending his ministry with them against his critics. The final two chapters look ahead to the future of the church – giving advice for certain areas of Christian conduct that he felt needed to be addressed. The end of chapter 3 is a prayer that Christ would make these believers strong, blameless, and holy before God (3:13). That is a process of walking in faith and learning to live to please God. Effective faith should show itself in every area of a believer’s life.


Paul’s primary focus here in chapter 4 is on the quality of the lives the Thessalonians lead (and we lead) while waiting for Jesus’ return. The bottom line is that we are to love one another and treat each other with respect and fairness. Our sinful nature entices us to do whatever causes us to feel the best, and that often leads to disregard for the well being of others. While God expects us to remain sexually pure, for example, we easily forget to keep our eyes on Jesus rather than indulging our self-gratification. When we make pleasing God the focal point of our daily lives, our conduct will reflect that devotion through the choices we make.


Discussion will focus on the guiding principle behind Paul’s commands and warnings. How will a lifestyle that bears witness to God affect sexual morality? Interpersonal relationships? Time priorities? Group dynamics? How do we think the Thessalonians felt when urged to love more and more? How do we feel realizing we are also urged to do the same?


All men of the congregation are invited to attend.


School Board Announcement


It’s Official—the ROAR of the Lions prevailed during the election results for selecting the Mascot for our school. Of the 159 total ballots received from the school and congregation, the Lions never trailed, with a combined tally of 84 votes overall. There were 5 students and 5 congregational members who submitted the written suggestion for the Lions. They were rewarded for their winning submission with a Dunkin Donut/Baskin Robbins gift card during the Reformation Festivities this past Saturday.


Our heartfelt thanks to all who participated in this exciting endeavor, by submitting very creative mascot suggestions, and/or by voting on the established, selected names.


Jim Kraus, Chairman

Discernment Presentation


Members of St Paul,


One year ago, we formed a Discernment Committee to prayerfully discern and discuss where St Paul is theologically in relation to the current teachings and practices of the ELCA. This discernment resulted in a survey that was sent to the congregation. We had 83 surveys completed and submitted to the committee. Those surveys have been tallied and the results have been presented to St Paul Council. The council has requested that the results be presented to the congregation. We are planning on two (2) informational meetings to present the results. The first will be November 14th at 3:30 PM in Underdahl Hall. At this meeting, I will present the tallied responses to the survey questions along with a discussion of the comments received. The format, content, and date of the second meeting is still under discussion. Again, this is an INFORMATIONAL meeting and discussion only. I will present the results and answer any questions to best of my ability.


Blessings,

Steve Humphrey

Upcoming Dates for WELCA


November 6th | 9 AM | Sanctuary

  • Decorate the Chancel for Thankoffering Sunday and Thanksgiving

  • Bring some seasonal fruits/vegetables to use for decorating


November 7th | Thankoffering Sunday

  • All thankoffering monies collected will be donated to Twin Cities Pavilion.

  • A big “thank you” to all the women who volunteered to participate in the worship services on the 7th!


November 12th-14th

Fall Gathering at Lake Yale in Leesburg, FL

  • Six women from our congregation will be representing St. Paul at this event.


Wednesday, December 1st

  • Women to provide congregational meal - Breakfast for Dinner!

  • A sign up sheet is posted on the bulletin board in Underdahl Hall. All women are encouraged to participate!


Friday, December 10th

  • We are asked to provide cookies for the reception following the Niceville High School Christmas concert to be held here at St. Paul.


Friday, December 17th

  • Christmas Party at the home of Bev Byrne. It will be a potluck, as well as an ornament exchange for those who would like to participate. More info to follow!


Bible Studies and Fellowship


Thursday

  • Ladies Bible Study meets every week from 9:30 until 11 AM in Underdahl Hall. Please join us for 6 sessions hosted by Kathie Lee Gifford as she guides us through the geography of Jesus's life on earth.Share the insights of Rabbi Jason Sobel as he connects Jewish lifestyle and worship rituals to the prophesied King of the Universe. Currently we are in Bethlehem, the very beginning. So much more to see!

Saturday

  • Lutheran World Relief Quilters - The third weekend of the month on Friday and Saturday beginning around 9:30.

  • Lutheran Men in Mission - The Purpose of Lutheran Men in Mission (LMM) is to bring you together in Christian fellowship with other men in our congregation. We hope to get you involved in an existing LMM activity which interests you and we also hope will stir up ideas for new activities. LMM breakfast at 7:30 am, the 3rd Saturday of each month.