From the Pastor's Desk
How to Remember Your Baptism
Do you remember your Baptism? If you are like me, you don’t. I was baptized at St. John Lutheran Church in Jacksonville, Florida, on December 23, 1964. I wasn’t yet three months old. The majority of Lutherans are the same. We were baptized as infants and remember nothing about that day. Some of you, especially those from other denominations, were baptized at an older age. You can remember the day you were baptized. Most of us, however, can’t.
It probably seems odd then, when Lutheran pastors say to their people, “Remember your baptism!” The natural response is, “How can I? I was only a few months old.” What do pastors mean by exhorting people to remember their baptism? That’s the topic of my article this month.
When we urge people to remember their baptism, we do not expect people to remember events that happened in their first few months of life. Instead, we mean that same thing that we mean when we talk about remembering a person’s birthday. No one remembers the first day of their life. They do, however, remember the day on which they were born. For me it was October 6, 1964. In fact, my parents made sure I remembered by birthday by celebrating it each year.
Remembering your baptism is similar to this. In fact, one way to remember your baptism is to write down the date and celebrate it each year. After all, when you were born, you became a child of humanity, with all of the good and bad that entails. When you were baptized, you were “reborn” a child of God. (Technically speaking, we are not born children of God. We are born “creatures” of God. In Holy Baptism, we become children of God.)
Another way to remember your baptism is to make the sign of the Cross and say, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” This is known as the Invocation. Every time we say the Invocation, we are remembering our baptism. When you were first baptized, God’s name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, was put on your forehead. Many of you were also marked with the Cross of Christ, either on the forehead or the heart. So we say God’s name and make the sign of the Cross over our hearts or our foreheads to remember that important event.
Some people also use water as a part of remembering their baptism. Many people will dip their hand into the Baptismal Font as they enter the sanctuary, using the water to make the sign of the Cross. (Since COVID-19 began, we have been covering the font for safety.) Still others place a small bowl of water near the door to their home. They use the water to make the sign of the Cross as they enter.
Perhaps the most important way to remember your Baptism is sometimes called RETURN TO BAPTISM. When we are baptized, we are washed clean of our sins. But what happens to the sins we commit after Baptism. Do we need to get baptized again? No. Instead, we return to Baptism by confessing our sins and hearing God’s word of forgiveness. In the Small Catechism, Martin Luther wrote:
What is the significance of baptizing with water?
It signifies that the old Adam in us, together with all sins and evil desires, should be drowned by daily repentance and sorrow for sin, and be put to death, and that the new person should come forth every day and rise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Where is this written?
Saint Paul says in Romans: “We were buried therefore with him by Baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)
The most obvious place that we confess our sins and receive God’s promise of forgiveness is during worship. We do this every week at the beginning of the service. We confess our sins together and the pastor pronounces God’s forgiveness based on the authority given in John 20:23 and Matthew 18:18. However, it is also a helpful practice to confess one’s sins in prayer to God at the end of each day. For instance, one might pray Psalm 51:
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.
(Psalm 51:1-2, 10-12)
My challenge to you for the next month is to remember your Baptism every day. First, as you wake each day, say the invocation, make the sign of the Cross, and prayer the Lord’s Prayer. Do the same thing each day as you go to bed. In addition, take a moment each day, whenever you choose, to prayer a prayer of confession, such as Psalm 51. Let me know how that goes as the month goes along. Send me any questions that arise as well.
Yours in Christ,
From the President
Hello Church Family!
An update on the flood recovery and renovation. Parish Hall, adjacent classrooms and Garden Narthex will be finished on September 4th. The temporary classrooms will be moved out of Underdahl Hall September 5th and 6th. Very shortly a tile floor will replace the carpet in the Hall.
As mentioned at the annual budget meeting on June 27, 2021, an update is in the works for October on the financial status of the renovation, repair and 2nd floor of Family Life Center.
Last month I mentioned great aspirations for social opportunities for church and school family. A delay was necessary due to a spike in COVID-19 cases as well as a stomach virus that went through the school. The cookout is postponed for now but I need everyone’s help to welcome the school families to our Reformation Celebration. The Council along with many others are making plans for several events during the last week of October.
As our Wednesday night meals begin, our children and youth ministries are also coming together. While Brad Sanko is leading the 7th-12th grade youth, Candance Arvanetes and Angela Hritz have agreed to shepherd our children in kindergarten through 6th grade. Kid’s First: K-2nd grade and St. Paul Lighthouse: 3rd-6th grade will begin October 6th, look for more information in the weeks to come.
Finally, the XYZ group has not resurfaced after the initial covid lockdown. Maybe someone reading this message will consider getting this group restarted. Support in faith and fellowship are very important for each of us as we walk through our time on this earth.
Regina Humphrey, Congregational President
Wednesday Evening Meals Update
Due to the uncertainty of when the renovations to Underdahl Hall will be completed, the startup date of the Wednesday evening meals is being delayed by a couple of weeks. The carpeting in Underdahl Hall is being replaced by ceramic tile, and the work may not be completed by the original Wednesday evening meals startup date of September 15.
Therefore the startup date has been pushed back to Wednesday, September 29. All the information necessary such as sign up procedures, menus, etc., will be forthcoming as we get closer to the actual start up date.
Women of St. Paul
Our next get together will be on Saturday, September 18th at 10:00 am. We are meeting at JoJo's Coffee and CREATE. We will each do a Glass Art project. The cost will be $25-35, depending on the size of your project. Please call or text Dona Charlton at 850-716-2731 to reserve your spot! Reservation deadline is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15th!
Sunday school will resume with a kick-off Sunday, September 12th. Sunday School will be for children age preschool through sixth grade and meet between Sunday services from 9:40-10:20. We are still in need of about three more teachers. Contact Ashley Harte firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Lutheran Men in Mission
September 2021 Bible Study Breakfast
The LMM monthly Bible Study will be Saturday, September 18, 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 "Whol-i-ness: With Myself, Others and God” The Bible study topic is “Emotional Life: ‘Peace of mind‘” (Philippians 4:2-9). This Bible Study will follow Option 2: Advanced: Teaching with Margin Questions.
Philippians 4:2-9 (NIV)
2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians is a thoroughly practical book that applies theology to life. Paul offered warm and basic advice about every day concerns, concerns that haven’t changed much in the nearly two millennia since he wrote his letter. Paul spoke about our attitude and our approach to life. Rejoice, be gentle, don’t worry, pray about everything, think and do what is right— and God’s peace will be a part of your life (Philippians 4:4–9). Paul was by no means a perfect human being, but he did learn some crucial principles along the road of life. His most important piece of advice is that we model our lives after that of our precious Lord Jesus, who loved deeply (Philippians 1:8) and followed the father’s will no matter what the cost (Philippians 2:8).
It is worth noting that the minor disagreement brought up in verse 2 and 3 between two women was the only problem which Paul needed to mention in the church at Philippi. Otherwise this church was a beautiful example of what a local church should be despite poverty and persecution.
Discussion will focus on how Paul advises the Philippians to deal with conflict and disagreement? What do you do to relieve stress from worry in your life? What does Paul say to do? How does what you think about affect how you feel? How does it affect your relationship with God? Looking at verse 8, what are some things you can think about that fit these characteristics?
All men of the congregation are invited to attend.
Help is needed in several areas on Saturday evening and Sunday morning worship. Included are communion assistants, readers and ushers.
Liturgical Assistant - This job is for the person that is okay with being in front of people. The assistant will process in and out with the pastor, read the Prayers of the Church, the Post Communion Prayer, and dismiss the congregation, saying, “Go in Peace and serve the Lord.” The assistant will hold the tray of wine cups during communion, announcing to each person, “The blood of Christ shed for you.”
Reader - This job is for the person that is comfortable speaking and reading to groups. The reader will get the Bible verses by mid-week to allow plenty of time to practice and become familiar with the verses.
Acolyte - What is an acolyte? The word acolyte means a follower or disciple—that describes adults, too. Over the years, because we use the term “acolyte” to describe the person who assists in worship by lighting candles, passing out offering plates, and collecting communion cups, and that person has traditionally been a child or youth because “we’ve always done it this way”, we have forgotten that an acolyte could be an adult follower of Christ. Here’s a new opportunity for adults to assist in worship without having to read or assist with communion. If you would like to serve as an acolyte, please contact Phyllis Wade (email@example.com or 850-621-3267).
Usher - This job is for the person that is good at arriving 20 minutes early. The first job for ushers is to assist the Evangelism Team with welcoming everyone and handing out bulletins. The usher might give directions to the nursery or bathrooms. Once worship is underway, the usher will come into the sanctuary to count the number present. When duties are finished the usher is welcome to sit with family. The usher will greet the late arrival, offer a bulletin and help them find a seat. When the service is over the ushers will prop open all the double doors so that worshipers may leave.
Sunday School Superintendent
Do you have a heart for children and a desire to serve in the ministry of the church? The role of Sunday School Director may be a great way for you to serve. This role does not require a commitment to teach every Sunday, but instead this individual will help facilitate the program and equip teachers for the classroom work! Contact Ashley Harte at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Bible Studies and Fellowship
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.
Women of Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (WELCA) - The third weekend of the month on Saturday beginning around 10:00 am.