April 2017 Newsletter "The Courier!"

St. Peter's
"Courier" 474 Vine St.
Bethlehem, PA 18015
610 867-0519

Volume 63, Issue 3

April 2, 2017

Greetings and peace to you all!

Easter is nearly here!

It's a time of the year that I always enjoy! A time in which seasonally, creation itself seems to be renewed with the return of warmer air, flower blooms coming forth from the ground, and a return to brighter more vibrant colors! Easter is also a time that reminds us all of the new and abundant life we have in our relationship with God and with one another!

Yet, I sometimes wonder how often we stop to pause and think about the life renewing and life giving gifts God shares with us during our mortal life. Do we "see" all the beautiful flowers in our garden of life, or are we more focused on the weeds that grow around the flowers?

For too many of us, our perception of the world around us indicates that so many things are going wrong in the world and in our lives. We quickly focus our time and effort on identifying those things which seem to confront our comfort in daily living and not see the abundant things in life that are going well!

On this day, I ask you to take a step back and look a little closer. Our Lord has shared with us all an abundant variety of beautiful gifts in our lives that we can easily miss if our eyes are distracted on all that seems wrong. Even within our own community it seems too easy for our sisters and brothers to "see" breakdowns in administration without rejoicing in the beauty of the abundant opportunities provided to deepen your relationship with God. It seems too easy to focus on those areas of our communal living that we don't agree with rather that celebrate the multitude of areas in which we have common understanding!

Can you "see" all the incredible gifts God has shared with us?

I invite each and every one of you to come and "see" for yourself the incredible love that our Lord shares with us by joining your sisters and brothers as we draw ever closer to the cross of Jesus Christ during Holy Week. Take advantage of the gifts and opportunities God shares with us to renew our relationship with our Lord and with one another.


Ministries to help us KNOW God on a
deeper more personal level

This month in worship

During the season of Lent, St. Peter's will be sharing a 7:30AM worship experience on Sunday morning's. Our hope is that those who desire an "early" worship experience on Sunday morning's will take advantage of this opportunity. The worship experience will include Holy Communion. These opportunities will stop AFTER Palm Sunday and may be re-instated at a future date depending on the participation level of our community.

Sunday, April 2, 2017 (7:30 AM in the Chapel & 9:00 AM - Nave) 5th Sun. in Lent
In today's gospel Jesus reveals his power over death by raising Lazarus from the dead. The prophet Ezekiel prophesies God breathing new life into dry bones. To those in exile or living in the shadows of death, these stories proclaim God's promise of resurrection. In baptism we die with Christ that we might also be raised with him to new life. At the Easter Vigil we will welcome new sisters and brothers at the baptismal font, as we renew our baptismal promises.

Sunday, April 9, 2017 (9:00 AM - Nave) - Sunday of the Passion - Palm Sunday
Today's liturgy begins with a palm procession, commemorating Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Quickly the tone of the service changes as we meditate upon Jesus' passion and death. Because this story is so central to our faith, we hear Matthew's account of the passion today and John's version on Good Friday. Though Jesus is obedient even unto death on the cross, he is exalted by God. We gather to remember his offering for the life of the world, and to be fed by his life-giving mercy. This holy week will culminate in the celebration of the Three Days of Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection.

Thursday, April 13, 2017 (10:30 AM in Chapel & 7:00 PM - Nave)
Maundy Thursday
With nightfall our Lenten observances comes to an end, and we gather with Christians around the world to celebrate the Three Days of Jesus' death and resurrection. At the heart of the Maundy Thursday liturgy is Jesus' commandment to love one another. As Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, we are called to follow his examples we humbly care for one another, especially the poor and the unloved. At the Lord's table we remember Jesus' sacrifice of his life, even as we are called to offer ourselves in love for the life of the world.

Friday, April 14, 2017 (12:00 noon in Chapel & 7:00 - Nave) Good Friday
At the heart of the Good Friday liturgy is the passion according to John, which proclaims Jesus as a triumphant king who reigns from the cross. The ancient title for this day - the triumph of the cross - reminds us that the church gathers not to mourn this day but to celebrate Christ's life-giving passion and to find strength and hope in the tree of life. In the ancient bidding prayer we offer petitions for all the world for whom Christ died. Today's liturgy culminates in the Easter Vigil tomorrow evening.

Saturday, April 15, 2017 (7:00 PM beginning in the Chapel)
Resurrection of Our Lord - Vigil of Easter
This is the night! This is our Passover with Christ from darkness to light, from bondage to freedom, from death to life. Tonight is the heart of our celebration of the Three Days and the pinnacle of the church's year. The resurrection of Christ is proclaimed in word and sign, and we gather around a pillar of fire, hear ancient stories of our faith, welcome new sisters and brothers at the font, and share the food and drink of the promised land. Raised with Christ, we go forth into the world, aflame with the good news of the resurrection.

Sunday, April 16, 2017 (7:00 AM & 10:30 AM - Nave) Resurrection of Our Lord -
Easter Day!
On this day the Lord has acted! On the first day of the week God began creation, transforming darkness into light. On this , the "eighth day" of the week, Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. We celebrate this new creation in the waters of baptism and in the feast of victory. With great joy we celebrate this day of days, even as we begin the great fifty days of Easter. Filled with hope, we go forth to share the news that Christ is risen!

Sunday, April 23, 2017 (9:00 AM - Nave) - Easter Lessons and Hymns
This morning's worship provides a musical celebration recounting the Easter story as shared in the gospel of St. Matthew! On this day we gather around the Lord's table to sing familiar and loved Easter Hymns in celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Sunday, April 30, 2017 (9:00 AM - Nave) - Third Sunday of Easter
Today's gospel begins with two disciples walking to Emmaus, overcome with sadness, loss, and disappointment. They had hoped Jesus, who was crucified, would be the one to redeem Israel! Yet the risen Christ walks with them, and then opens their eyes in the breaking of the bread. Each Sunday our hearts burn within us as the scriptures are proclaimed and Christ appears to us as bread is broken and wine is poured. The story of Emmaus becomes the pattern of our worship each Lord's day.

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 on out and joining with others as together we worship the Lord!

Women of the ELCA Bible Study
The Women of the ELCA Bible Study will gather on Tuesday, April 4th & 18th, 2017 in the Social Room from 9:30 to 11 AM. As Lutherans in 2017, we will be celebrating the 500th Birthday of Martin Luther. The March Bible Study continues to look at the book of Galatians as we look into ways that indeed we are all heirs of God's promise! It was while reading Galatians, Martin realized he did not have to work to earn salvation but that he and all who believe are justified by faith, the gift of grace given to us by a God who loves us. Together we'll explore what Paul and Martin Luther learned as they grew in faith in very different times. Paul wrote to the Galatians sometime between 50 and 55 AD, while Martin Luther was studying God's word in 1510 AD.

All women are welcome around the table. Coffee, tea, and some snacks will be ready. There is time to chat, study, sing, and pray. Please consider starting this calendar New Year by adding Bible Study to your routine.

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 "True Courage" authored by Steven Farr. This is a great time to join our group for the season of Lent and Easter! Coffee is always brewing and our time together also includes an opportunity for mutual support and encouragement to one another.

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!

"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 April 3, 2017 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!

Sunday School!
Sunday Church School is available for our younger believers! We have two classes: Pre-school through 2nd grade which is being led by Tami Ihle-Holmes, and 3rd grade through 6th grade being led by Lois Ritchie.

On the 1st, 4th, and 5th Sunday's classes will be held in a "traditional" format.

On the 2nd Sunday of each month our children will be experiencing something new! "PMT (Popcorn and Movie Time)" will be held immediately following worship.

On the 3rd Sunday of this month the confirmation class will be leading our younger sisters in brothers in fun learning!

Please consider allowing your child to be part of this exciting ministry!

Adult "After Hours" study
Our "After Hours" study is currently focused on the Passion of Jesus Christ as presented through the gospel of St. Matthew! Please consider joining us for this provocative examination of the story we all know and love!

Ministries to help us "SHARE" what
we know about God with the world around us!

An Open Letter from St. Peter's coordinator of the Bethlehem Emergency Sheltering Program: (Amy Faulch)

Greetings one last time, St.Peter's BES volunteers!

Another successful season of providing meals for the Holy Trinity women's shelter site has come to a close.

Because of YOU, St. Peter's was able to provide meals twice a month this season, in response to the Holy Trinity site opening an extra night each week! That was a commitment, and you all really came through!!

We served between 10 and 20 women, plus volunteers for each meal. That is a LOT of delicious roast chicken, pork, meatloaf, steak sandwiches, assorted soups, fried rice, breads, salads, fruit, juice, milk, deserts and breakfast items you each have contributed!! That's also a lot of hours of shopping, planning, preparing and serving meals. You deserve more thanks than I can give, and I know that our shelter guests, the Holy Trinity volunteers and myself are so grateful that you choose to share your light in this way.

To our Holy Trinity hosts, we are all so inspired by your work with the shelter program and how much energy it takes to stay open every week for the women.

As you all continually amaze me with your faithful shelter work, it saddens me to say that this was my last season coordinating meals for St. Peter's. This year was challenging with a small child and my job, and required some logistical acrobatics that I may not be able to pull off next year. Plus, after three years, it's time for some new energy and perspective on St. Peter's role in the shelter program. Sooo...I suspect that any future coordinator(s) may come from one or more of YOU!! If you have even a slight interest in taking on a new and rewarding challenge next season, I would love to talk to you about it and pass on any information I have that may be helpful.

THANK YOU each, for a job very well done this season!

-Amy Faulch

Editor's note: Amy Faulch has shared an amazing ministry with the people from the shelter and with all of us! I'm sure you all will join me in sharing a word of thanks to Amy! As Jesus once said: "Well done, my good and faithful servant, well done!

Buck a chick is back!
Please consider donating a dollar or more to support World Hunger efforts. Color a chick to be on display during Lent. This year offers a twist in that Advocacy will sponsor a coloring contest for adults' and children's categories. The contest runs until Easter.
Donate, color, feed those in need and possibly win a prize

ELCA World Hunger
Nearly 800 million people - that's 1 in 9 people in our world today - are hungry.
As members of the ELCA, we are called to respond. We are a church that rolls up our sleeves and gets to work.

Working with and through our congregations, in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands Lutheran churches overseas and other partners, ELCA World Hunger is uniquely positioned to reach communities in need. From health clinics to microloans, water wells to animal husbandry, community meals to advocacy, your gifts to ELCA World Hunger make it possible for the ELCA to respond, supporting sustainable solutions that get at the root causes of hunger and poverty.

St. Peter's Food Bags: A new ministry!
We at St. Peter's are assembling "food bags" to have on hand and give as needed to those in the community and within our church family who have "too much month left at the end of the money."

Can you help by providing food items, in particular, the high protein foods listed below? Our food drive will be augmented by Thrivent Financial through the use of an action team.

Chunky Soups Macaroni and cheese Pasta and pasta sauce
Canned tuna canned meats canned pasta and meat
Peanut butter Beans, any type high protein cereals

Please place your contributions in the boxes either in the hallway by the narthex or in the social hall. "When you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me." (Jesus)

The season of winter is 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 weekend.

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 winter months 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.

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 April 11th & 25th.) Please contact Evelyn Smith if you might be interested in helping with this important ministry!

Knitter's Group
We are always looking for additional helpers in helping to provide knitted bandages and other items for people who are in need around the world. If interested please see Elizabeth Elterich or simply come to the Trauger Room on April 17th, 2017 at 6:30PM to join in the efforts!

Youth Gathering Fundraisers!
The youth of our congregation are beginning their efforts to be part of the 2018 Youth Gathering which will be held in Houston Texas! Here are some easy ways we can all help in their efforts!

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 as they begin to prepare to be part of the Youth Gathering in 2018!

Partnership Opportunities Abound!

Pastors and Guardians of Holy Israel Community of Faith
Each week, normally on Thursday evening and Saturday evening, the Pastors and Guardians of Holy Israel Community of faith meet in our facilities. This community of faith which offers ministry in both Spanish and English has been meeting in our facilities and has truly been a blessing. Led by Pastors Victor and Marilyn Mendoza an enthusiastic community of between 50-60 people worshipping our Lord!

Lehigh Valley Christian Chinese Church
Every week the Lehigh Valley Christian Chinese Church offers an extension of their ministry in our facilities. On Thursday's at noon Christian Chinese students from Lehigh University gather in our social room for Bible Study and on Friday evenings at 6PM approximately 80 sisters and brothers in Christ gather to worship our Lord and share God's teaching.

Financial Stewardship Update
In 2017 we are attempting to keep our community of faith
better informed as to our financial status. Each month we will post a "giving goal" for the year to date and for the current month. In addition to including our giving during the course of the year, we are attempting to share "budgeted" expenses vs. actual expenses. It is our hope that this will allow each of you to be more aware of our current financial status and trends.

GIVING: Expenses
Year to Date goal through Feb. 2017 $28,297.00 $48,327.00
Year to Date actual through Feb 2017 $32,311,00 $46,494.00
How we are doing year to date + $ 4,014.00 - $ 1,833.00

The congregational budget which was approved for 2017 included disbursements from our reserve funds of $93,000.00. Above figures indicate that we saved from having to take $975.00 from our reserves to support our ministries through January.

Anticipated money from reserve fund $93,000.00
Based on year to date figures - 5,847.00
Adjusted anticipated money from reserves $87,153.00

The Giving Goal for March, 2017 $23,867.00
Received through March 19, 2017 $14,961 .00
Remaining Goal for March 2017 $ 8,906.00

The Expenses Goal for March, 2017 is $27,184.00

We will be attempting to publish the May 2017 edition of the "Courier" by Sunday April 30, 2017! Please have any information for inclusion in this edition to the church office by Monday April 24, 2017! Thank you

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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