Church Chatter October 2, 2016

October 2, 2016
St. Peter's "Church Chatter!"
Whether a first time guest with us or a life-long member, "Church Chatter" is designed to be a weekly publication for the family of Christ who gathers at St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethlehem!

"With God's help… Anything is possible!"

Greetings and peace to you all!
In the book of Numbers there is a scene played out when the Israelites through Moses sent twelve "spies" into God's promised land to see for themselves that truly the land God intended for them to have was "flowing with milk and honey." Now I remind you that this scene occurs after the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years and God brings them to the very edge of the promise Land.

"After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned 26 to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. 27 This was their report to Moses: "We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country-a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. 28 But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! (Numbers 13: 26-28)"

What's absolutely astounding to me is that even though they "saw with their own eyes" the beauty that God intended for them to have. Even when they picked with their own hands the bounty of this beautiful land. Even though they probably felt in their own hearts how wonderful it was that God intended them to possess this land, that their hopes and dreams of living in a land flowing with milk and honey were quickly dashed because they focused on the worldly "buts" that were presented to them. "But" … there are people already dwelling in this land. "But" … those people are strong and powerful! "But" we don't have the financial resources, the human resources, or the strength to challenge those people and they'll crush us!

Thank goodness for Moses who later in the story says; "it can be done - with God's help!" Yet on this day… the people's fear won the day and Israel was to wait longer than necessary to have God's plan fulfilled for them.

Through this story you and I can see that it is very easy for us, as humans, to be delivered to freedom by God… but to not live like we are actually free!

This week I've felt a bit overwhelmed by the cynicism and criticisms that I see around me. Perhaps this is just where I am at in my personal life. Perhaps, I am currently in a place where I am more keenly aware of people's dissatisfaction with the world, our government, our culture, even our church family. Yet, my eyes continue to see that God is attempting to do "great things" through us and among us! The very ordinary people who comprise St. Peter's!

Perhaps we would do well to remind ourselves that as God's heavenly princes' and princesses' living in the Lehigh Valley, that we, like the Israelites, are called to trust God and to take action that brings God's abundant life into center stage. Perhaps we would do well if when we see a ministry faltering or a particular incident take place within our community that is not safe or healthy take place, that we lend our hand and/or our voice to offer assistance to our sisters and brothers in Christ rather than step away and focus on the "buts" of the world.

You and I live in challenging times! If your eyes, like my own, see the hatred, the violence, the disparity, the lack of financial resources of our world, without seeing what God is up to even in the midst of these challenges, we will be overcome with the "buts" of the world and quickly find ourselves "paralyzed" by fear or simply become overwhelmed. In our community of faith, we should be able to find a "resbit" from the "buts" of this world. We should be able to be surrounded by sisters and brothers in Christ who understand the worldly realities, however have more faith that God is leading us, that God is within our midst trying to empower us all to proclaim the love of Christ in a world that doesn't necessarily want to hear this message!
I thank the Lord that I am surrounded by all of you… I thank the Lord that we face the challenges that we do in the world in which we live, because together…. And always with God's help… many incredible and divinely inspired ministries are being completed!

May God continue to surround us all and remind us all that indeed we are "Freed" as God's children living in the year of our Lord 2016 and empowered for wonderful ministries!
Peace and blessings

Exciting Events!!!
Elysium String Quartet Kicks off St. Peter's Concert Series
Our St. Peter's concert series returns TODAY at 3PM with a concert featuring the Elysium Quartet! The Elysium Quartet has been playing together regularly since 2008. Quartet members Julie Boghet, James Finegan (violins), Steven Heitlinger (viola) and Andrea Web (cello) will perform works from the quartet repertoire. Locally, these musicians can be heard playing with the Allentown and Delaware Symphonies, the Riverside Symphonia, Symphony in C (formerly Haddonfield Symphony) and the Lancaster Symphony.

St. Peter's is excited to announce that "Agape" will be leading our worship experience Sunday October 23, 2016 at 9:00AM! Come out and join us!
Combining rapping, dancing, storytelling and his fluency in Spanish, AGAPE* connects with his listeners in a way that they really "get it". His energy is contagious, and his stories of faith transcend differences. Even those who do not normally enjoy hip-hop, find themselves dancing to his music and captivated by his unique presentation of the Gospel. AGAPE* brings an authentic approach by translating the theological depth of his seminary training into simple songs and stories that can be understood by every listener. His passion is to bring together people of all backgrounds and let them know about God's love for the whole world. This is "AGAPE*"!

Around our Community!

Confirmation Education "kicks off" with a Retreat!
Last weekend, St. Peter's and St. Paul's joined together to begin our confirmation academic year! Our group travelled to Cross Roads Retreat Center in New Jersey! Our time was filled with fellowship and beginning to examine how we proclaim the love of God in the world in which we live! A great time was had by all and we look forward to more wonderful ministries coming from our confirmation ministry in the coming year!

Stewardship Corner
Throughout the course of 2016 our stewardship ministry team will be offering submissions to our weekly publications. Our hope is that you will enjoy and value these offerings shared to the glory of our Lord. This month's stewardship focus: "Thanks for your gifts!"
Remember… "We are sometimes the only Bible that people may ever have an opportunity to "read" in their lives!"

Financial Stewardship update
In 2016 we will be attempting to keep our community of faith better
informed as to our financial status. Each month we will post an offering "goal" for the month and each week in this space you will see how we are doing towards that "goal."

The Goal for September, 2016 $15,402.00
Received thru September 25 2016 16,487.00
EXCEEDED September goal by $ 1,085.00

Year to Date Goal through September $159,219.00
Received thru September $153,558.00
Missing 2016 goal by ($ 5,661.00)

Please note: The congregational budget which was approved for 2016 included disbursements from our reserve funds of $94,296.00. Theoretically every dollar under our "giving goal" will be an additional dollar necessary from our reserve fund to sustain our ministries. Every dollar over our "giving goal" will theoretically "save" a dollar from being taken from our reserve funds. If our budget held "true to form", based on current year giving patterns, we would need to take $99,957.00 from our reserve funds to meet anticipated expenses.

The goal for October 2016 - $15,632.00
Check out the abundant opportunities to walk with our Lord! This coming Week!

"Brewing Theology!"
Join your friends for a wonderful discussion in a relaxing atmosphere with the ability to share in beverage and food! Brewing Theology is a night when sisters and brothers get together at TAPS located on 378 South of Bethlehem for informal discussions about faith and the world around us. This month we will come together on October 3, 2016 at 7 PM (though some of us are there earlier to eat) and share time of fellowship together. Our gathering normally lasts until approximately 8 PM. This is a great place to ask questions and simply process the world around us through a faith perspective!

Women of ELCA Bible Study
In the month of October, the Women of the ELCA Bible Study will meet on Tuesday,
October 4th and October 18th, from 9:30 to 11 AM in the Social Room, where there are plenty of chairs for everyone! The coffee will be ready, some cold iced tea, fruit and something sweet to be shared as women gather. No problem if you haven't ever come to Bible study or haven't been to this study in a while, there is a chair waiting for you, and women waiting to welcome you into the circle of love and care.

St. Peter's Men's Fellowship
Each Wednesday morning at 6:30 AM all men are invited to participate in our St. Peter's Men's Fellowship Group! Our group is currently studying the book "What Keeps You Up at Night" written by one of our favorite authors Pete Wilson. Coffee is always brewing and our time together also includes an opportunity for mutual support and encouragement to one another.

Wednesday Morning Healing Prayer worship
St. Peter's is offers monthly "Healing Worship" the first Wednesday morning of each month at 10:30AM in our Chapel area. Join your sisters and brothers in Christ for this monthly worship which offers extended time for prayer, laying on of hands, and a reflection centered on Holy Scripture. If you have the time and the desire, we would love to welcome you into our midst!

Wednesday Evening Holden Evening Prayer
St. Peter's offers "Holden Evening Prayer with Holy Communion at 6:30PM each Wednesday evening in our chapel. Consider joining your sisters and brothers in Christ for this beautiful evening prayer worship. This worship experience offers a wonderful alternative worship experience if you will be traveling during our weekend worship. Please consider joining us for this wonderful opportunity!

Stories of Faith Bible Study
Join us every Thursday at 10:00AM and 6:30 PM in our Trauger room for Stories of Faith Bible Study. During this 90- minute session we will take a closer look at the Scripture assigned for the coming Sunday's worship experience and explore the questions and thoughts that you bring to these Scripture lessons! There is no prior Bible Study experience necessary to join this lively discussion, simply bring an open heart and willing ears and see where the Spirit will lead our discussion. A fellowship meal precedes our evening study at 5:30 PM. Consider joining us!

SUPER SATURDAY October 8, 2016
All YOUTH ages 4 through High School are encouraged to come and spend some fun time with Pastor Jerry. This time is designed for some Bible study, singing, and time just to hang with Pastor Jerry. The timetable is:
9AM to 9:45 ages 4 through 4th Grade in UCF Room with Pastor Jerry
9:45-10:15 ALL AGES have a snack in Social Room
10:15-11:15 Grades 5 through 12 in UCF Room with Pastor Jerry

The theme of the day for October 8 is the FEEDING OF THE 5000.

This is a fun time with Pastor Jerry and so it is hoped that many youth will participate and enjoy their time together with each other and with Pastor Jerry!

Saturday October 8, 2016 - Pet Blessing Worship - Do you have a pet at home which is a loved member of your family? Have you ever considered having your pet blessed? This year we will be joining our sisters and brothers in Christ from across CoMiT to offer a shared "Pet Blessing Worship!" The pet blessing will be part of Holy Trinity/Salem's block party which will be held on Saturday October 8 on the parking lot of Holy Trinity. The pet blessing will occur at 1:30PM. Why not come on out and enjoy this time of fellowship and bring your pets to receive a blessing!

Saturday Evening Worship
Join our sisters and brothers in Christ from CoMiT who gather each week at 5pm at Messiah Lutheran Church located on Easton Avenue for Worship with Holy Communion (concerned about how to give offering? Simply give in your St. Peter's envelope at the time of the offering.)

October 9, 2016 - 21st Sunday after Pentecost - It's a miracle! Multiple miracles! The waters of holy baptism have healed us. The body and blood of Jesus in holy communion have made us clean. We have died with Christ and been raised with him. For all this we have returned to offer thanks. From this place we are sent on our way rejoicing to share the good news.

Check out the abundant ways to share your love of Christ
This coming Week!

Holiday Shopping to support "Wreaths Across America!"
Several months ago, Ron Frankenfield, attended a gathering in which he learned about "Wreaths Across America!" This group's mission is to be able to place an evergreen wreath at the graveside of every veteran buried in our country as a way to honor their sacrifice and courage to be willing to defend our values and freedoms. Ron, our brother in Christ at St. Peter's and a Thrivent member, decided to use one of his "Action Teams" to support this ministry. Over the course of this year great things have happened in this ministry. Ron has "adopted" Fountain Hill Cemetery for this ministry. He has found volunteers to help identify the graves of the veterans buried at Fountain Hill (320 in all) and has coordinated with many outside agencies to help assist in this ministry. In order to have an evergreen wreath available to all the veterans buried at Fountain Hill we need approximately $5,000. To date we have just approximately $2,500 towards this goal.

During the month of October Ron will be facilitating our Holiday Shopping needs! Within this edition of the "Courier" and at locations throughout St. Peter's, we will have forms available to purchase gift cards from some of our favorite vendors. These vendors will be offering St. Peter's a % of each gift card purchased ranging from 3% to 8%. Simply sit down on your couch, decide what gift cards you'd like to share with your family, fill out the form, write a check to St. Peter's (Please place Wreaths across America" in your note section) and turn in to the offering plate or church office no later than our October 30th worship experience. Our plan is to have those gift cards back into your hands before Thanksgiving in order that you will be able to share your gifts with your loved ones by the time you gather together for your holiday celebrations!

If you would like more information about "Wreaths Across America" or ways in which you can be helpful in this ministry, please contact Ron Frankenfield!

"Hot Soup for a cool deal!"
Our Advocacy Ministry Team is conducting a "soup sale" to benefit our recent upgraded air conditioning unit. You may purchase Vegetable Beef, Vegetable, or Chicken Noodle soup for $5.00 per quart. Order slips are found on the desk leading to the Christian Education addition and will be placed in your Sunday worship bulletins on October 16, 23. The pick up date for soup is Sunday October 30th following our worship experience. Please consider ordering your soups today!

Back Pack Buddies
Did you know that every week we take collections of "ready to eat" food items for children who attend Fountain Hill Elementary School? A large grocery cart is located in the hallway between our worship space lobby and the Christian Education Wing. When the grocery cart is full, we take our items to St. Paul Fountain Hill who distributes this food with young children who may not have adequate food for the weekends. Please consider helping in this ministry as you are able!

New Bethany Ministries
Did you know that we have collection area located inside the doors of our entrance areas for soups or cans goods that you might be willing to share with sisters and brothers in Christ who find themselves in need of food right here in Bethlehem? Once our containers are filled these items are shared with our friends at New Bethany Ministries who offer them to folks in need!

A Reminder about ways in which we can help our young people begin preparations for the
ELCA Youth gathering in 2018

Gift card program - Every Sunday after worship we have gift cards available for Weis, Giant and Shop Rite. The gift cards are in $25 denominations. For every gift card you purchase our Youth receive 5% of the purchase price. This is a great way to not have to spend any money that you wouldn't otherwise spend on groceries or gas yet help the youth of St. Peter's!

Any items for submission for the November "Courier" must be submitted to Pastor Jerry by the close of business on Monday October 24, 2016

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