rocket launch

      S.P.A.R.K.

 (St. Paul Church’s Announcements to Read and Know)

 September 2021

Dear friends,

I hope this newsletter finds you well. I am maintaining my own wellness by taking time off from church work. Even on vacation though, it’s hard not to think ahead to all the challenges the new Church Year will bring under this continuing pandemic. For a while I was beginning to think things were looking better, especially being able to worship outdoors without facemasks; but, as you know, that didn’t last long. In the meantime, we must consider the things which are most important to us as a church. I believe one of those things is our Christian education. Some of it has continued during the pandemic such as confirmation and mid-week Bible study among the senior group and the women. But our main Sunday Bible study, Sunday School and youth group have been on hold since early last year. This has to change soon. The state can mandate this and that, but as long as we are able to meet in person while observing measures to mitigate the spread of Covid, we should be doing so. President Tim has already mentioned in his article the upcoming meeting where together, we will move forward with a plan to resume Christian education. I encourage you to attend as well. I do not recommend we have an Oktoberfest this year. If there is any question about risk of infection, it should only be considered for the most important functions of the church, that being worship and education. The non-essential stuff must wait until this is all over.

 

You’ve all been very patient and understanding during these times. It hasn’t been easy for some of my colleagues in the ministry; but here at St. Paul, I think we have taken what God has given us with a fair amount of acceptance. Who knows what He is teaching us through all this other than to turn to Him and rely on Him even more. To do otherwise is unfaithful, and that is certainly not what we wish to be.

 

I’ll see you soon. The Peace of the Lord be with you.

 

Pastor Don

S.P.A.R.K. (St. Paul Church’s Announcements to Read and Know)

 Summer 2021

questionsBy the time you read this newsletter, Covid-19 restrictions from the state will have been rescinded. It’s as if nothing ever happened! Well, almost. The memories of the last 15 months will be with us for a long time. And some things that came about because of the pandemic will remain such as our live streaming Sunday services. But for the most part, our church life is returning to the way it was before the governor’s stay-at-home order. Some things remain to be seen however such as in-person attendance (who will come back and who won’t,) long-term impact on our giving and finances, and new questions such as: how do we count membership in the congregation now that we have people joining us for worship who don’t live in Oregon? For example, my friend and his wife in Louisiana have participated in online worship almost every Sunday for an entire year. That’s wonderful; but does their faithful participation make them members? They aren’t confirmed, and I haven’t developed a new member class for those who live out of state, yet, we have several people connected to our church who fall into this category. Perhaps there needs to be a new category of membership status. These are just some of the things all our churches are experiencing since the pandemic started.

 

As far as this summer goes, you can expect some return to normal. Mission Festival will happen on Sunday, July 25 at 10:45 AM in the grove. Our theme this year will be “30 years of St. Paul Preschool,” and our guest of honor is Chris Cullen, the preschool’s first director. She is excited to share some stories of the early days of one of the most vital missions of our church. On top of that, we will have a potluck, then I’m off to Camp Lutherwood with three of our youth for Confirmation Camp. Vacation Bible School will happen August 2-6, and since Covid restrictions will be over, I expect there will be more than double the number of kids attending than last year.

 

Now that Covid restrictions are lifted, I encourage everyone to attend church in person if they are physically able. Unless we get another one of those miserable heat domes upon us, the mornings should be quite agreeable temperature-wise. So come to the 10:45 service and enjoy the short two months we get to worship outdoors. May God bless you, your families, and may He continue His blessings upon our church.

 

Pastor Don

Greetings in Christ Jesus,

Welcome to June.  Summertime officially starts.  I am looking forward to warm, long days.  I am pleased that life is getting back to a more normal way of living.  I pray that you have an enjoyable summer.  This is the time for enjoying God’s beautiful creation.  You can hear children playing outside, laughing, and having fun.  Matthew19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  The old saying goes that “kids will be kids.” President Teddy Roosevelt’s five kids once took a pony into a second-floor bedroom after riding it up the elevator!  We can learn about God’s Kingdom from kids!  God wants us to have fun and enjoy life like kids.  Have great summer!

Senior Saints will meet each Wednesday in June.  You are welcome to bring a sack lunch at high noon and enjoy fellowship, Bible Study, and worship.

God’s Peace abide with you!
Pastor Rich

 

  

Hi gang,

         I am so thrilled to see so many on Wednesdays.  My whiskers and tail twitch.  I actually see smiling faces.  No masks are required and social distances are not enforced.  Pastor mentioned that Jesus invited the children to come and we should have fun like them.  So I did some research to find some smiles for your good health.

Ready?

Put on your glasses, hold your sides.  Smile big like a child.  Warning!  You need to be a senior to understand some of these. 

  • Know how to prevent sagging?  Just eat till the wrinkles fill out. 
  • Did you hear why the 80-year-old got married to a 72-year-old? Because she could still drive after dark.
  • I got used to arthritis, to my dentures I am resigned. I can manage my bifocals, but oh, I much I miss my mind.
  • I called a friend not long ago. When he answered, I hung up quickly without speaking, for I forgot who I called.
  • Here are some signs that you have grown up.  6 am is when you get up, not when you go to bed. 
  • Sleeping on the couch makes your back hurt. 
  • You take naps from noon to 6 pm
  • How many times is it appropriate to say, “What?” Before you just nod and smile because you still did not hear or understand a word they said?
  • Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can’t remember them either. 
  • You enjoy hearing about other people’s operations.

Join us on Wednesdays for more corny smiles.

Enjoy June like a child.
Love, Zeke

 

 

UFOs are not what they appear

S.P.A.R.K. (St. Paul Church’s Announcements to Read and Know)

June 2021

    If you heard my sermon on Pentecost Sunday, I said, “Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) are not what they appear.” I used this premise as a “hook” for the sermon opener, and to illustrate the tongues as of fire at Pentecost are not what they appear either. I hope it served its purpose. I didn’t attempt to answer the question as to what UFOs are since it was out of the scope of the text in Acts. Some of you may still be wondering then, if UFOs aren’t what they appear, what are they? I’ll bet the suspense is killing you!

 

   To answer, consider what UFOs have accomplished on earth. What have they done for us? What have they done to us? What does their sole purpose seem to be based on centuries of eyewitness reports and documentation? Nothing more than to confound, perplex, mystify, confuse, alarm, and distract the human race. Christians could take this a step further and claim UFOs do not point people to God, especially to His Word and promises. They do just the opposite. They take people in directions that are outside the holy ark of the Christian Church. Examples are the many paranormal and psychological belief systems centered around UFOs such as The Church of Scientology, Nation of Islam, and Falun Gong. Not to mention—believe it or not—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who have it in their doctrine that Jesus and Satan are brother beings from another planet who traveled to earth. Not in a spacecraft, but you get the picture. None of these religions glorify the triune God of truth or point people to Him alone. Whatever UFOs are, they don’t bring people into church to hear of the forgiveness of their sin and reconciliation through Jesus Christ with God the Father, the one who made the universe and all that is in it.

 

   Stopping short of saying anything not pointing to Christ is the Antichrist, I will say when it comes to UFOs, they are anti-Christ in that they seem to have nothing to do with him and even steer people away from him. Could it be then the devil is pulling the strings behind UFOs? He is after all a liar, a deceiver, and the prince of this world in that God has given him a lower level of dominion in which he can manipulate some aspects of creation. I would consider that a more plausible explanation than they are spacecraft from other worlds or dimensions.

 

   At any rate, let’s leave UFOs to the ufologists and truth to the Church. Whether UFOs are spaceships on a mission to earth or a mission of the devil to deceive millions, there’s only one mission that really counts and that’s the miraculous mission of God in sending his Son Jesus to be the savior of the world. That’s what this summer’s Vacation Bible School will be all about.

It will have a space theme, but I won’t be focusing on UFOs. I’ll gladly entertain the question about them though if it comes up from any child because it’ll be an opportunity to show them the Way, the Truth, the Light and the Life which is Jesus. Consider how challenging a task this is when UFOs and aliens are so ingrained in our culture. Your prayers and support will be needed.

 

   Another “miraculous mission” this summer will be the return of our blessed Mission Festival Sunday on July 25th. Our theme and focus this year will be on our preschool. I’ve already mentioned how vital a mission our preschool has been during the pandemic, and I can’t emphasize it enough. The Mission Festival will be the perfect occasion to celebrate the wonderful school year we just had and its 30th anniversary as a mission of our church. Potluck will resume, so bring a dish of something yummy to share.

 

   The blessings continue this Spring and summer at St. Paul! I encourage as many of you to worship in person again as possible. The 10:45 service in the grove will start July 4th weekend. If you haven’t attended church in person since March of last year (or earlier!) make this summer the time to come back to church, hear the Word of truth, and partake in the Lord’s Supper for the forgiveness of your sin and strength. See you soon.

 

Pastor Don

Greetings in Christ Jesus,

 

Happy May! We are still in the Easter Season.  Easter is a time to rejoice, be thankful, and be happy because life extends beyond the soil of the earth.  Ponder what God has done and will do.  He sent Jesus to save us and will send Him again to take us to heaven where we will live forever with God.  Take time to smile and celebrate, for we are people of the resurrection!  May is a time to celebrate Spring.  Flowers are blooming, leaves are popping out, birds are chirping, and the air is warmer.  Ponder anew what God has done and is doing for you.  God loves you!

 

Seniors are back to meeting in real life.  Join us each Wednesday at Noon. Bring a sack lunch.  Come and ponder what the Lord is doing with us.  We help each other grow and mature.  As one senior said, “I really don’t mind getting older, but my body is taking it badly.”   Come ponder with us and you will feel younger.

 

God bless you all with His love, peace, joy, and may His face shine on you.

 

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Rich

 

Hi gang, 

                          I am soooooo excited, folks are returning to the Senior Center,  I am looking forward to each Wednesday.  I can taste the PJ !  It has been a long lonely year. Thanks to all who cleaned the Senior Center.  Watch for more things coming to enrich your life.

 

Here are some thoughts to ponder and to give you a smile. 

  • When I was a boy, I had a disease that required me to eat dirt three times a day in order to survive….it’s a good thing my older brother told me about it.

 

  • I like having conversations with kids. Grownups never ask me what my third favorite reptile is.

 

  • Everyone my age is older than me. The older I get, the earlier it gets late.

 

  • Few women admit their age, few men act it.

 

  • How do you know you’re old? People call at 9 pm. and ask, “Did I wake you?”

 

  • The older you get, the more you need to keep the fire extinguisher close to the cake.

That is enough for this month.  Happy May.

Love,

Zeke

S.P.A.R.K.

(St. Paul Church’s Announcements to Read and Know)

May 2021

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God. (Luke 24:50-53)

 

This month we continue celebrating Easter joy with three more Sundays including one for the Ascension of Jesus, then it’s Pentecost Sunday and the Holy Trinity the Sunday after. On the national calendar, May also includes the National Day of Prayer, Armed Forces Day, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day. There’s much to celebrate, remember, and be thankful to God for.

 

As I look back on the last fourteen months, it seems there is a gradual return to pre-covid life even though the pandemic is still with us. During the stay-at-home order in the Spring of last year, I was the only one in the office for weeks; Sunday worship was reduced to one service with me, Frannie, Chuck and the Praise Team in the sanctuary, streaming the service to our members at home. Sunday School, Bible study, Confirmation, and all youth activities were put on hold. Today, people are back in church in small numbers, the seniors are meeting again, Tim Grace has jump-started a family Bible study in between Sunday services, Confirmation has resumed, and we had an Easter egg hunt. Lord willing, if things go the way they are going, more of our regular activities will resume as well—maybe even some new things, who knows.

 

It might seem this past year has been a time for our church to simply retreat into itself for protection and survival. There have been fewer meetings, less things to vote on, fewer activities for volunteers to donate their time at, etc. You may be pleasantly surprised to know however that many of our ministries have continued unabated. For example, our preschool opened for class in September with twenty-four students. At a time when older siblings were staying at home attending class on a computer, the younger ones were able to be here a few hours of the day, making life a little easier for families in our community—parents were thrilled we had this much-needed ministry. On top of that, we have hosted a home school with ten students in one of the modular classrooms. Again, parents in our community have been so happy to have this option for their children, and have thanked us (our church) for letting them learn and play here on our beautiful campus. I am baptizing two of the home-school children and their older brother on May 2nd. Through the generous giving from you, our church members, we have been able to continue support for our friends at Camp Lutherwood Oregon, Public Safety Chaplaincy, Wash Jo Mission of Hope, The Northwest District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and The Gideons International. And our seniors group continued meeting via Zoom on the internet.

 

So continue to enjoy the beautiful Spring Easter season of our Lord, and give thanks for the many blessings He is pouring out onto us on a daily basis. May His peace and joy be with you.

 

Pastor Don

S.P.A.R.K.

(St. Paul Church’s Announcements to Read and Know)                    April 2021

It is difficult for me to collate all my thoughts concerning the reintroduction of the Equality Act which was recently passed by the House, and is now before the Senate. On the one hand, I want equality for all people in this country just as much as the next person. Well, as much as most people, because there are some who believe certain people should be discriminated against. On the other hand, some very intelligent Christians are saying if passed, the Equality Act will harm the Christian Church, and undo anything resembling Christian social order in this nation.

 

One such fellow Christian is Dr. Andrew T. Walker. Dr. Walker is a professor of Christian ethics and a defender of the advance of the moral witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He has academic interests in sexual ethics, human dignity, family stability, gender anthropology, natural law, public theology, and church-state studies. Impressive! He wrote recently, “The Equality Act, in any view, is a symbol for the de-conversion of the West.” In other words, if the Equality Act is passed into law, society and everything else will go down the tubes.

 

Dr. Walker is a Southern Baptist. While I cannot agree with his beliefs on infant baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and justification by grace through faith alone, I agree with his long-term optimism, that, no society can march against nature (God’s creation) without nature eventually striking back. On top of that, government legislative jargon on paper won’t change a single thing in God’s created order. At best, it can only hinder our observation of it.

 

The Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, president of our Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, also a very intelligent Christian, says similar things on the Equality Act as Dr. Walker. He says the bill sounds innocent, but will bring sweeping changes to the detriment of the Church and her institutions. You may have already read this, as a copy of his letter was mailed to you recently by a concerned church member. Pastor Harrison encourages us to love our neighbor, inform ourselves about the Equality Act, write our representatives, and pray for them. This I also agree on.

 

Compared to these giants of Christian thought and leadership, and many more like them, I am a small-city pastor with a Masters of Divinity degree. My daily preoccupation seems to be, stemming the flow of backsliding and declining participation in the worship life of church members, let alone the secular dismantling of Western Civilization. Yet, I was trained, educated, and called to speak God’s Word into these times. With that said, continue to worship regularly and hear God’s Word as well as study it on your own and with other Christians. If you feel government actions are burdening your conscience, consider increasing the frequency of your worship participation and study of the Bible. Also consider less doses of partisan news feeds per day, and look for reliable, primary sources of current events. I can help you with resources that are Scriptural and faithful to the Lutheran Confessions. If you are conflicted that Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions do not line up with what you believe about social issues, I can help with that as well. Together, perhaps we can find answers which bring more clarity and peace from God. This is also what you have called me to do. 

 

In closing, I offer my own perspective on the Equality Act. It’s only my opinion, and I could be wrong. I’ll leave the deep theological and philosophical ramifications of the Equality Act to Dr.’s Walker and Harrison, be pragmatic and say it should be no surprise to us when these types of congressional acts come down the pike. Presidents, governors, congresspeople and senators are well-educated in law, philosophy and ethics. One would think they would defend and preserve classical Western values. At the end of the day though, it’s the will of the people that change the laws of this country. I don’t know how many of our representatives in Salem and Washington D.C. are Christian, but I’ll take a conservative guess and say one-quarter. If it’s more, then I emphasize the point: it doesn’t seem to make any difference. The laws of this land reflect the values and norms of society, and it appears society is having its say—and way. Along with this, I doubt most congresspeople and senators possess sound Christian doctrine such as can be found in the Lutheran Confessions, or are skilled in hermeneutics (Biblical interpretation) of the Hebrew Bible, and Greek New Testament. How on earth could they be sympathetic to Christian causes such as the sanctity of marriage, life, human sexuality and act on it? Perversion is natural and easy to act on. Biblical, orderly, righteous wisdom and conduct is taught, learned, and acted out with the help of the Holy Spirit against one’s own sin on a daily basis. To me, it’s no wonder the world is the way it is.

 

Our foundation of values and ethics are based on truths thousands of years old, and written for all generations by the One who created everything. We never have to give-in to the spirit of the age, and when we do, there is forgiveness from Jesus Christ. As for me, I plan on clinging to God’s truth until the end despite my sin, so that the next generation might see and learn that their church community endures in godly hope of eternal life. 

 

What would the apostle Paul say about all this? But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians, 5:8-11.

 

Pastor Don

Greetings in Christ Jesus

Welcome to the Easter Season.  As I write this it is Holy Week or also known as Passion Week.  It is about the passion, the love of God for us through the suffering, death, and resurrection of His son, Jesus. It is my prayer that you find a deeper love for Jesus this season.  Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart.”  I encourage you to take time to be still and experience Jesus.  Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God…”

This week is also the start of Major League Baseball. Here is a lesson.  Dick Wade, a sportswriter wanted to know how much action really occurred in a baseball game.  He clocked the time it took the ball to leave the pitcher and the time to the ball was actually in play. 
He discovered that the amount of action was about 9 minutes.  Because of the downtime, players can play 162 games a year and play every day, unlike football and basketball.  The Christian life needs downtime.  This Easter. take time to rest in the Lord. Increase your Spiritual endurance.

Great News!  On the last Wednesday of this month, we will resume in-person gatherings at the Senior Center.  Mark April 28 as a time of rejoicing. Bring your sack lunch at 12 noon.  We will start our program at 12:30 pm which will include worship.  If you are unable to attend in person, we will also be on Zoom starting at 12:30 pm.  The other Wednesdays in April will be on Zoom at 1:30 pm.

Maxine and I pray that the Easter Season will be an enriching time for you.

In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Rich

 

Hi Gang,

Wow and more Wow!  I can hardly wait for April 28!  It will be wonderful to see folks again at the Center!  Thanks to all who cleaned the Center.  Your work of love is appreciated.  We had a Spring Robin contest.  The first person who saw the first Robin in their town received a Starbucks gift card.  I am pleased to announce who won.  In the city of Sherwood, it was Marge Peters, in Newberg, it was Kay Divine, in Hillsboro, Mari Jewel Ficken and Maxine Kiessling in Beaverton.  It appears that women are better bird watchers than men. Maybe they see better.

Here is an Easter smile or two:

 

  • My father was cheap.  Every Easter we would wear the same clothes, but he would take us to a different church.
  • Easter candy is better than Halloween, and you don’t have to ring a lot of doorbells.
  • If it weren’t for capital punishment we would not have Easter.
  • When you are older you want Easter eggs that are dark chocolate.
  • Hoping my Easter guests will help me take down the tree.
  • Where does Valentine’s Day come after Easter?  Give up?  In the dictionary.
  • Why should you not tell an Easter egg a joke? It might crack up.
  • How many Easter eggs can you put in an empty basket? Only one, after that it is not empty!
  • What comes at the end of Easter?  Got it?   The letter r

Have a great April!

Love, Zeke

S.P.A.R.K.  (St. Paul Church’s Announcements to Read and Know)                   March 2021

Places of the Passion

A Series of Services for Holy Week

Palm Sunday: Bethphage

March 28th, 8:30 & 10:45 AM

In this Places of the Passion service for Palm Sunday, we go to Bethphage, the place where the ride into Jerusalem on a donkey begins for Jesus. It is here where we discover that Jesus is a humble King who serves as he heads toward the cross.

Maundy Thursday: The Upper Room

April 1st, 7 PM

In this Places of the Passion service for Maundy Thursday, we climb the stairs to the Upper Room to join the disciples in receiving the body and blood of Christ in bread and wine. We are reminded here that Jesus sets a place at the table for each of us, even though he knows all that we have done. Amazingly, we find that he is willing to give completely of himself to forgive us. The Lord’s Supper will be celebrated.

Good Friday: Golgotha

April 2nd, 7 PM

In this darkened service for Good Friday, stand at the foot of the cross on Golgotha, the Place of the Skull, where the crucified Christ breathes his last for our sake. His suffering is in plain view, as well as his great love. His death redeems us all.

 

By the time you read this newsletter, Washington County will be at a “moderate risk” level for Covid-19 reopening. This is good news because it means we can have more people in the church, and we can even begin to have coffee and snacks in the church basement again. The six-foot separation between families and masks will still be in place. If you are unsure if it is safe for you to return to the church in person, please call me, and I’ll answer any questions you might have that might help you decide. Online services will continue throughout Holy Week regardless of the risk level. May God continue His blessings upon you during Lent and Holy Week.

Pastor Don

 

Greetings in Christ Jesus

Life can be frustrating at times.  It has now been a year since we discontinued our Senior weekly gatherings.  Another year of life has passed by us.  COVID-19 is the culprit.  Some of us have adjusted to a weekly Zoom meeting.  We had The Imposition of Ashes. We are learning from the Prophet Daniel.  We are using the Lenten season to apply Daniel to the present.  All Seniors are invited to join us.  It is still uncertain if we can meet in person during Holy Week.  The vaccinations are not advancing fast enough.  Check your Sunday bulletin for updates.

The world seems to be in disarray.  Iran is asserting itself.  China is persecuting Christians.  Our government is proposing dangerous changes in our values.  As Christians, we need to be  active in standing up for Jesus.  In Luke 12:8-9 Jesus says: “I tell you. Whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the Angels of God.” The Lenten season gives opportunity to strengthen our trust in Jesus.  I pray that God will bless you with His love.

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Rich

Hi Gang,

I look forward to getting together again.  I am skinny due to the lack of PJ!!  I am also lonely. The Senior Center is eerie, so quiet.  In spite of the fact, we still can smile.

A young man was shopping in the Market when he noticed an old lady following him. He ignored her, but at checkout, she was in front of him.  She told him he looked like her son who recently died.  He said he was sorry.  He asked if there was anything he could do for her.  She said yes, as I am leaving can you say “Goodbye Mother,” that would make me feel better.  Sure he said.  As the old woman was leaving, he called out, “Goodbye Mother.”  As he got ready to pay he noticed his bill was $125.00.  He said, how can this be? I only bought a few items.  Your mother said you would pay for her, said the clerk.

  • I want to live my next life backwards.
  • Your secrets are safe with your friends because they cannot remember them either.
  • You know more about prescription drugs than your pharmacist.
  • My memory is not as sharp as it used to be.  Also my memory is not as sharp as it. Used to be.
  • Forget the health foods, I need all the preservatives I can get.
  • When you fall down, you wonder what you can do while you are there.

Enough for now.  Check me out next month.
Love,
Zeke