Church Chatter - January 22, 2017

January 22, 2017
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!

"What then is the significance of such a baptism with water? Answer: It signifies that the old creature in us with all sins and evil desires is to be drowned and die through daily contrition and repentance, and on the other hand that daily a new person is to come forth and rise up to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Luther's Small Catechism

Greetings and peace to you all!

This morning when I woke, I saw the beautiful sun in the sky! For a moment I thought about how important the sun is in each of our lives. The sun provides the energy that is necessary for crops to grow that feed us. The sun provides light and warmth in the vastness of space. In fact, the bottom line is, the sun is crucial in providing life on planet earth. After a moment of reflecting on the "gift" of the sun, I realized that the gift of the sun which God provides as a "free- gift", is as necessary for those who believe in God as it is for those who don't believe in God. This gift shines on those who lead "good" lives as well as those who we consider leading "bad" lives. This gift; truly is a gift to all of humanity even if individual humans never recognize the sun as a gift! The same idea holds true about the love of God! And the "Son's" incarnate presence dwelling among us!

Each year I have a unique opportunity presented to me. Whenever I begin compiling information for our community's "end of year reports," I have the opportunity to reminisce about the "year that was!" Truly in 2016 our community of faith saw God's presence in a myriad of areas! The sheer number of what we call "normal" ministries is quite amazing. From regularly scheduled Bible studies, to varied worship opportunities. From advocacy ministries that make a difference in the community such as the Bethlehem Emergency Shelter to "back pack" buddies. From fellowship opportunities such as the "soc-hop" to what's become an annual event of our "Golf outing." St. Peter's truly offers believers of many different kinds of interests and passions opportunities to grow in faith.

In looking ahead and seeing the many difficult questions facing our community such as reducing our budget to allow for the most effective use of our financial gifts, to how our facility will be utilized to continue to advance the proclamation of God's love in our world, it is easy for me to become a little overwhelmed.

What becomes incredibly important for myself and hopefully for all of you who are taking the time to read this is that God has walked with us in our past, God will walk with us in our future, and perhaps most importantly, God is walking with us NOW.

Such a simple statement! Such a profoundly powerful statement!

Whether we are consciously aware of God's presence dwelling richly among us or not… God is there! Whether we always appreciate God's presence within our midst… God is there! Whether we always "see" God's light shining…. God is there! Whether we have the time, the desire, or the inclination to act on our faith… God is there! In other words, just like the sun stands as a constant reminder to us all of the incredible gift God shares with us, the incarnate "Son" stands as a continual reminder that God's steadfast and faithful presence will be with us in any and every situation of life.

So, allow the light of the "Son" to dwell richly in you! All the warmth of the "Son" to surround you! Allow the comfort of the "Son" to envelope you! And try to share the "Son" wherever you go!

Take comfort my friends… God walks among us all!
Peace for now,
Pastor Jerry

Exciting Upcoming Events!!!

Annual Congregational Meeting! January 29, 2017
Our annual congregational meeting to approve the historical records for 2016, approve a new congregational constitution and by-laws is scheduled for January 29, 2017! At this meeting, we will also be updating the community of faith on the progress of our St. Peter's Task force. Please join us if you are able!

Additional Worship opportunities during the season of Lent!
On Wednesday March 1, 2017 The season of Lent begins with a solemn call to repentance as we begin our journey to the baptismal waters of Easter. On this day we are reminded that "now is the acceptable time to return to the Lord." During Lent the people of God will reflect on the meaning of our baptism into Christ's death and resurrection. The sign of ashes suggest our human mortality and frailty. What seems like an ending is really an invitation to make each day a new beginning, in which we are washed in God's mercy and forgiveness. With the cross on our brow, we long for the spiritual renewal that flows from the springtime Easter feast to come. On this day we will offer "Ash Wednesday worship" three times: 7AM in our chapel, 10:30AM and 7PM in our sanctuary in hopes that more from our community will be able to experience this powerful worship!

Also, during the season of Lent, we will be offering an additional Sunday morning worship! This worship will begin at 7:30AM in our chapel. While the exact setting has not yet been chosen for this worship experience we can tell you that it will include Holy Communion, a homily based on the day's assigned Scripture reading and an opportunity for prayer. Our hope is that during this holy season we may offer more worship opportunities that each sister and brother in Christ has greater possibilities to "Journey with us" to the cross of Jesus Christ!

Stewardship Corner
Throughout the course of 2017 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.

Last Saturday morning there was a great celebration as "Habitat for Humanity" dedicated a home in Bethlehem for occupation. Rebecca Neafcy, St. Peter's Thrivent representative and soon to be member of our community of faith, was instrumental in helping this construction "come to life!" A huge word of thanks to Rebecca for her efforts, Richard Elterich who often offers a hand in construction projects such as these, and all those people who shared their gifts and talents to make this dream a reality!

Financial Stewardship update
In 2017 we will be attempting to keep our community of faith
informed as to our financial status. Each week 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 January 2017 $13,417.00
Received through January 14, 2017 10,307.00
Remaining goal for Janauary ($ 3,110.00)

total giving of $209,000 projected for 2017
Please note: The congregational budget which was approved for 2017 included disbursements from our reserve funds of $93,000.00. 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.

Check out the abundant opportunities to walk with our Lord! This coming Week!

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 will begin studying Tony Dungy's Book "Dare to be Uncommon." Beginning on January 4, 2017 so this provides a great opportunity for new people to join our study. Coffee is always brewing and our time together also includes an opportunity for mutual support and encouragement to one another.

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 9:00 AM or 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!

CoMiT Saturday Evening Worship - Every Saturday evening at 5PM we are invited to join our sisters and brothers in Christ associated with CoMiT for worship. This worship experience which includes Holy Communion takes place at Messiah Lutheran Church on Easton Avenue. Pastor Dody Siegrfried normally presides at this worship experience. If you have other plans for Sunday morning this worship offers a wonderful alternative. Consider coming out and joining with others as together we worship the Lord!

Sunday January 29, 2017 (9:00AM) 4th Sunday after Epiphany
Who are the blessed ones of God? For Micah, they are those who do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. For Paul, they are the ones who find wisdom in the weakness of the cross. For Jesus, they are the poor, mourners, the meek, those who hunger for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers. In baptism we find our blessed identity and calling in this countercultural way of living and serving. During our worship we will be receiving new sisters and brothers into our community of faith at St. Peter's. Following worship this morning we will hold our annual congregational meeting to approve historical records and an updated congregational constitution.

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

Thrift Shop Volunteers
We are always looking for additional Thrift Shop Volunteers to help facilitate the South Bethlehem Thrift shop on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month at 10AM (This month January 10 and 24 .) Please contact Evelyn Smith if you might be interested in helping with this important ministry!

January and the season of winter are a wonderful time to remember to purchase items for the Back Pack Buddy program that St. Peter's supports with St. Paul's Lutheran in Fountain Hill. When out shopping remember to buy some easy to prepare, healthy foods~~microwaveable pastas, applesauce, fruit cups, soups, crackers, peanut butter and jelly, cereal, puddings~~then bring them along to St. Peter's and place in the shopping cart in the upper narthex hallway. As soon as the cart is full, the items will be taken to St. Paul's and then back packs will be filled for the children who won't be getting their school breakfast and lunches over the weekends.

New Bethany Ministries
The New Bethany Food Pantry is always in need of non-perishable food for their food bank that provides emergency food for people/families in need. NBM receives quite a bit of help around the holidays, but in the month of January etc. the shelves are often bare. You can help our neighbors in need by adding an item to your food order each time and bringing it to St. Peter's. Place the items in the laundry baskets marked with NBM Food Bank found in the Social Room, the Lower Narthex and at the Christian Ed front door. Jesus asks that we feed our neighbors and care for them, and together we can make a difference.

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 February 2017 "Courier" must be submitted to Pastor Jerry by the close of business on Monday January 23, 2017.

St. Peter's Vision Statement
"As children of God, living under God's Law of Love, we welcome and accept all to celebrate the Good News! Our desire is to make disciples for Jesus Christ and share in proclaiming God's story!"

Are you on St. Peter's email list? We regularly send out daily prayers, reflections from the pastor, and news updates to people who desire to receive email from the community of faith. If you'd like to receive these emails, please contact the Church office!

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