Hello Everyone. I hope you all enjoyed the long weekend, and its beautiful weather! We have a few announcements for you all about the goings-on at St. Paul’s for the next few weeks.
- Small Groups: Small groups start next week! Check out our summer offerings and contact a leader to join in, and meet small group leaders this coming Sunday, June 3rd!
- Membership Meeting: We’re having our next meeting on Wednesday, June 6th. We’ll be voting on passing our next yearly budget.
- Membership Reaffirmation: On Sunday, June 10th, we’ll be having our yearly Membership Reaffirmation.
Have a great week!
Today at St. Paul’s we’ll be celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the church at Pentecost. We’ll invite the Holy Spirit to refresh and renew us corporately and individually through a short message, responsive readings, and the annointing with oil. We hope you will join us for this very special service at 4PM!
Vince’s message on Sunday was about prayer, and at one point he said that God wants to give us good things, because what father doesn’t want to give good things to his kids? And then, to some comic effect, he said something like: “All right, well, maybe we don’t ask our dads for stuff, so maybe that isn’t a good analogy.” And I think that he is sort of right. I certainly don’t ask my dad for stuff. We live in an age and culture where children quickly become either independent, or else are spoiled by their parents, which means they either don’t want good things from their parents, or else they expect good things from their parents.
However, the Bible actually says this parent-child analogy is useful all the same. In the verses following “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened,” Jesus asks his listeners:
Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9-11
And yet, I don’t always think this myself.
Vince also mentioned those kind of timid and mincing prayers that go something like: “God, if it isn’t too inconvenient, could you please give me a couple bucks sometime between now and three months from now? And if you don’t do that, it’s okay. No biggie.” There is a problem with this kind of prayer that goes a little deeper than just trying not to bother God too much.
To go back to Jesus’ analogy, this would be like a child saying to his or her father: “If it isn’t too much, Dad, could you just give me enough food so I don’t starve, maybe? Sometime between today and Thursday would be nice. But if not, don’t worry about it.” The subtext to this would seem to indicate that either: 1.) This father is a terrible parent and can’t provide for his child or 2.) This child has no faith that his or her father will take care of him or her.
Which means, when I don’t ask God for the desires of my heart, or to meet my needs, and when I pray those kinds of timid prayers that don’t expect much from God, it could mean either of these two possibilities.
As a Christian, I don’t consciously think God is a terrible Father, nor do I think God is incapable of taking care of me. As a human being, though, I have a faith problem, and I don’t trust or have faith that God will hear me, answer me, or exceed my expectations. But if I don’t step out in faith, I’m the one preventing things from happening, not God. God wants to hear from us, and he wants us to have good things in our lives, but He also wants us to trust in Him, and have faith that He alone can do these things, and exceed our dreams and expectations.
So this means this week’s challenge and next steps could go even further: God is our Heavenly Father, He gives good gifts to his children, and we need to ask and trust and have faith in this truth.
From Emily Dolan and the Prayer Team:
Due to some technical difficulties, we are releasing our summer newsletter here on the blog! Thanks for bearing with us and look for a re-vamped version of our newsletter this coming fall!
St. Paul’s Communications Team.
Two Notes from the Lead Pastor
I’m going to Israel! I’ll be gone from May 21st to May 30th visiting the Holy Land with a group of pastors. This is a dream come true for me—to actually walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Also this means I’ll be out of communication in that time period. So please be patient: I’ll respond to phone calls and emails when I get back.
This means I won’t be at St. Paul’s for Pentecost Sunday. But no worries: we’ve got a great service planned. There won’t be a sermon. There will be a series of responsive readings and time for corporate prayer as we celebrate and welcome the Holy Spirit. I’m bummed I’m going to miss it.
See you in June!
Prayer Team Update.
We would like to make known all of the exciting things that are happening with our prayer team. In addition to the privilege of praying with you after the services and praying over your written requests, we are also offering morning and evening Restorative Prayer sessions two days per month through the summer.
Restorative prayer is a safe, confidential, loving environment of acceptance, affirmation, and powerful meeting with God. We will post the dates on the bulletin board in the café with our contact information and how to sign up for a session.
If you feel that the Prayer Ministry is where you may be called to serve, there will be a Basic Prayer Servant class offered at Walnut Hill Church in Bethel, CT one Saturday in June. The cost is approximately ten dollars, which is for lunch and materials. We will keep you posted on the details as we learn of them.
Vicki Oldham. & the Prayer Team.
Recently, I have been spending some time going over the Giving Budget that we will propose to the membership. It gave me an opportunity to reflect and give thanks for the great things that God is doing missionally at St. Paul’s.
With God’s help we plan on reaching out to our local community by offering friendship and support to those suffering through some of the hardship that life can bring. We plan on uniting with other local churches and increasing our focus on the UCONN community. We will continue our partnership with MACC in the Manchester and surrounding areas.
Regionally, we will continue to make ourselves available to assist those families that have been devastated by the effects of hurricanes or tornadoes. We will do this through our partnership with Lutheran’s CARE.
On a global level, we will be traveling to Panama in July or August to continue and to expand our work with the local churches there. Finally, in January we will be returning to Tuxpan, Mexico to work with the churches that we met during last years trip.
I hope that each of you will continue to heed the command to “Go”. I look forward to serving with you in the months to come.
Making our church feel warm and welcoming has always been a priority for us at St. Paul’s. Currently, I am looking for more people to serve on our Hospitality Team. Starting in July, I will begin to officially schedule Greeters, Communion Servers, and Bakers. No experience is necessary, except for maybe the baking part (unless you make wise use of Big Y’s bakery section!). You would be asked to arrive half an hour before the service to help out, and the time commitment will most likely be every six weeks or so, unless you wish to serve more often. So if you’re interested, please contact me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (623-258-0873) by June 16th.
Teen Ministry Update.
This fall, I was terrified to begin meeting with the teens. High schoolers. Teenagers. I wasn’t sure what leading a group of them would be like (aside from being horrifyingly certain that they would hold me to a standard of coolness that I simply couldn’t meet), but I couldn’t shake the firm belief that St Paul’s needed a group for our teens. With much support from Emma and from Vince, this October we began our weekly small group for teens.
Now, months later, I can tell you that our St Paul’s teens – Kayla Donaldson, Jonathan and Rosie Alumbaugh, and Kaylee Yacono – are amazing. We currently meet Sunday evenings, after church, although all of us seem interested to keep meeting through the summer. Together, we discuss the sermon and our questions about life and God and godly living. As I’ve gotten to know them, our teens’ honesty, openness, and genuine care about each other and others in their lives is an inspiration and an encouragement.
If you would like to pray for our group, please pray for the strengthening of friendships amongst us and for our summer plans for teaching, fellowship, and outreach.