The Vision – June 2015

from the pastor’s desk

Almighty Creator and ever-living God: we worship your glory, eternal Three-in-One, and we praise your power, majestic One-in-Three. Keep us steadfast in this faith, defend us in all adversity, and bring us at last into your presence, where you live in endless joy and love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Prayer of the Day for Trinity Sunday)

Words like “eternal,” “majestic,” “steadfast,” “endless” and “forever” help us to understand that God is our foundation and our hope in a life full of changes and transitions. During the month of June we experience graduations, many weddings and changes in schedules at work as we engage in the activities of summer. Change is never easy, but life brings us new challenges which we must face and endure. Knowing that we have that steadfast presence of God in our lives helps us face each new day with the hope and assurance that God stands with us no matter what!

Have you ever heard it said by people around you that they feel disoriented or unfocused because they did not take the time out on Sunday morning to attend worship? How are we to rely on that steadfast presence of God when we fail to acknowledge the one who gives us our very life and breath day by day? Please consider putting our worship service on your calendar or list of “things to do” during your week. Make yourself available to your fellow members, who might be looking for some help from you with their changes and transitions. It might be no more than a listening ear that you can offer, and God will use you to bring comfort and peace to someone who is waiting for a word of hope in the midst of their adversity.

In Christ’s service,

Pastor David Byerly

The Vision – May 2015

from the pastor’s desk

“Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. Luke 24: 46-51

Easter – Ascension – Pentecost

In this month the Church continues to celebrate Easter (as we do every Sunday of the year!), and we remember the Ascension of our Lord and the gift of the Holy Spirit. One thing to remember about Christ’s ascension is that he has left one place in order to be present in all places through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in the whole world, there is no God-forsaken place. That gift of the divine presence changes our perspective on life and gives us hope now. We are always remembered and never abandoned as we share the life and love of God with those we encounter along the way.

In Christ’s service,

Pastor David Byerly

The Vision – April 2015

from the pastor’s desk

So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. Mark 16:8

What can we say as we ponder the events of Holy Week and Easter? These are the most important services of the year, and we stand or sit or kneel in awe at what God has done for us through Christ’s passion and death and resurrection. I hope you will take time during Holy Week to pray and read the Holy Scriptures. I hope you will attend the Holy Week services as well as one or more of the Easter Sunday services. Better yet, bring a friend or family member along with you who normally would not attend church. We have very good news to share with a hurting world in need of God’s guidance and peace. We may be reluctant to share our faith for fear of offending or embarrassing our neighbors, but we are called to a life of discipleship together. That life includes the admonition to share the Gospel. The first visitors to the empty tomb got over their fear as they shared the wonderful news of Easter. Many of you have been very good at inviting and encouraging others to come and worship with us. Thank you for your engagement with the church as you live out your faith in so many ways. Thanks for your faithful attendance at worship. Thank you for all everyone is doing to prepare for these important services!

In Christ’s service,
Pastor David Byerly

The Vision – March 2015

from the pastor’s desk

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Always being made New. The Campaign for the ELCA

During Lent we are called to a life of repentance, which means we are to let God make us new day by day. We cannot do that on our own, and God guides us in our life of faith, strengthening the Church and reaching out to our neighbors. We participate in many ministries through the wider church, and we are called to be mindful of that work through prayer and support. We give our regular mission support through the Upper Susquehanna Synod, and we have opportunities to add to that in this campaign approved by the 2013 Churchwide Assembly. There are four areas of concentration for our consideration:

 Congregations. Many struggling congregations need help to reach out in communities where resources are scarce, and we are always being called to start new congregations in our changing culture.
 Leadership. Seminarians struggle to pay for tuition and living expenses while in school, and the debt load for new pastors is often crippling.
 Hunger and Poverty. This is the familiar ELCA World Hunger campaign, which many of you have been supporting for years.
 Global Church. This is the way we fund our missionaries overseas.

As you can see, the ways we give to the wider church are evolving, but much is still the same. Each family will receive a book that will help us prayerfully consider how we might reach out and be the church together.

In Christ’s service,
Pastor David Byerly

The Vision – February 2015

From the Pastor’s desk:

A Call to Gather
This newsletter goes out to members old and young, those who have been members of Grace of St. Paul for their whole lives, and those who have only been members for a month or two. The call of Jesus to “come and see” which was issued to the first disciples by the Jordan River is the call we all receive to come and hear God’s Word and partake of the sacrament of Holy Communion week after week. That is a call which I rejoice in following as we receive God’s grace together. It is a call which I know is important to many of you by the witness of your regular presence in the Lord’s house.

There is a specific call to gather which I am issuing with this note. Both Grace and St. Paul will gather on Sunday, February 22, 2015 after our worship services. This will be the annual meeting of each congregation where we review our ministry during the past year and look forward to the ways we are called to discipleship and mission in our communities for this year. Please put the date on your calendar and plan to attend worship and the meeting. We will thank those concluding their service on congregation council and welcome our new officers and council members. We will have an opportunity to get to know new members better, and we will challenge each other to more fully live into our call to be disciples in our families, our neighborhoods and our world. I look forward to seeing all of you at our meeting!

God’s peace be with you!
Pastor David Byerly

The Vision – Dec. 2014

from the pastor’s desk

Why Advent?

We begin a new church year, not with a countdown to Christmas, but with a season of hope for all the ways Jesus Christ comes into our lives. Advent always seems to be a confusing season for us, even though we live through it year after year. I guess we should be happy that the world around us places so much importance on the story of the birth of the Messiah, and we share our faith with family, friends and co-workers every time we retell the Christmas story. In Advent the church asks us to step away from the busy shopping and seemingly endless preparations for the perfect holiday experience. We watch and wait together for the rich promises of our gracious and loving God.

From Sundays and Seasons, 2015: “There is a profound sense in which Christ is always coming again and again, more and more, layer upon layer, both in his arrival and in our continuing expectation. Expectation and fulfillment are woven together, and the liturgical calendar witnesses to it in our worship practice. So the coming of Jesus is promised. The coming of Christ is prayed for. In a way, the Son of Man is always coming. Mark more than any other gospel illustrates the truth that everything is always in the middle of things, even the beginning and the end.”

That is why we start Advent reading about the end of time. Then we hear stories of how John the Baptist points to Jesus (the adult human) as the promised one. Then we get to hear about Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus. Future, present and past are all described so that we can begin to understand our place in God’s continuing story of salvation. Let us gather together and give thanks for God’s wonderful gift to us!

God’s peace,
Pastor David M. Byerly

The Vision – November 2014

from the pastor’s desk

For All the Saints!

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.” 1 John 3:1

We begin November with All Saints Sunday, as we remember and give thanks for the lives of those loved ones who have died in the last year. That is a big part of what All Saints Sunday is about, but it is not all that it is about. For you see, we are all saints here and now, as we share our lives together. We celebrate that gift of life in so many ways all through the church year. Some days we may not think that we are very saintly, or more likely, we may think that our neighbor or family member or fellow church member is not acting very saintly! But, as we read above, we are called children of God.

Together, through the year, we enact being children of God as we strive to love one another in celebrating all those life events and life passages that we share. We have had an active year as people of Grace and St. Paul Lutheran congregations. We have baptized new members, we have taken in other new members through transfer and affirmation of baptism, we have shared sorrow in funerals, and we have had weddings!

MaryLou and I have been blessed by all of you and blessed by God as we were surrounded by all you saints on our wedding day! We cannot thank you enough for the ways you have shown us your love and shared your joy with us. People of God – yes saints – thank you for your generosity, your sharing of talents and time, and for your presence with us at our wedding and your presence week after week as we worship and celebrate life together with God and one another.

God’s peace,

Pastor David M. Byerly

The Vision – October 2014

From the Pastor …

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to
hire laborers for his vineyard.” Matthew 20:1

Our Gospel readings these past few weeks have been about the vineyard. Of course, the vineyard is the people of God at work in God’s world. We learn that God calls us all to use our gifts and talents to as we seek to serve our neighbors. The harvest is also used or implied in these stories, and the harvest is how we see some of the results of our work together. Sometimes the results might seem small or insignificant, and sometimes the results are obvious. What God wants us to do is remain faithful as we work together, trusting that God pulls us toward God’s future together.

As we move through this fall season together, let us celebrate the harvest as we share in welcoming new members among us, as we baptize babies and welcome adult members, too. Part of the work in the vineyard is to be welcoming and provide hospitality to those who are visiting with us. Let us give thanks for the ways God has led new people into our midst, and let us all grow together in our service to and love for our neighbors.

In Christ’s service,

Pastor David M. Byerly

 

The Vision – June 2014

If you are lucky enough to be on altar duty during the month of June, you will be quite busy, for the paraments will change each week. We begin with white as we celebrate the last Sunday of Easter. On that week we will hear the story of Christ’s Ascension into heaven, which is actually celebrated on Thursday, May 29. The second Sunday of June is a red Sunday, as we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit being poured out on the disciples and all of us. The next Sunday goes back to white, as we contemplate God as Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We will hear the “Great Commission” from the end of Mathew’s Gospel on that special day. The fourth Sunday in June will give us a hint of what most of our summer will be like, with green paraments and a story from Matthew’s Gospel to guide us in our life of discipleship. For the 5th Sunday in June we will display red paraments as we remember the martyrdom of both Peter and Paul.

Does all of this sound confusing? The stories of our faith build us up when we are attentive to them. Together we seek guidance from God and each other as we make these stories our own. We use all of our senses as we experience the life of God in our midst together. Come and see how God is calling us to share this good news through God’s Holy Word and the sacraments as we go into all the world and make disciples!

God’s peace,

Pastor David M. Byerly