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Message from Pastor Mike
“Behold I am With You Always!”
It comes as no great surprise that Matthew concludes his Gospel with these words of assurance from Jesus that we will not be left orphaned by his departure into heaven. Jesus is leaving them. They will no longer be together in the way they have been together with Jesus for more than three years. They now feel adrift, bewildered, confused, and uncertain.
This climax of Matthew’s Gospel is profoundly apt for all times, but certainly at this time of pandemic, at a time when we are physically separated. The ending of Matthew’s Gospel is really the beginning of a life lived in intimate relationship with Jesus in a different way. At the outset, we are invited into the story: an opening of the door for a new beginning. The Jesus who commands difficult obedience at the same time offers grace-filled Divine Presence.
As we move toward the beginning of Lent, I can’t help but remember that it was during Lent last year when we shut down the in-person worship, so quickly did the life of the church change. We have learned a lot since then about holding worship services virtually, holding meetings on Zoom, avoiding hospital and in-home pastoral care for safety reasons. None of this has been easy, especially as together we work to continue the mission of the church. Regardless of how well we might be doing this, it is not the church life we prefer. I’ve heard it said that it feels as if we have been living through Lent since last March. It has felt like that for me in so many ways—the only different is we know Lent normally lasts only 40 days. This “Lent” of the pandemic has an uncertain ending.
When Jesus says, “Behold, I am with you always,” one thing Jesus is saying is that He won’t let anything come between whatever we go through in our lives and his “being with us.” At this time, however, I believe we are being summoned—it is the same summons every follower of Jesus has felt since his leaving the disciples on that mountain—the summons to be in right relationship with the Divine Presence right now. Jesus is alive and present today, only different from how we had experienced it a year ago. This is the most perfect opportunity to pause, yet one more time, trusting the angels to attend to us as they did to Jesus in the desert during His first Lent.
Blessings & love . . .
Lenten Wednesdays (virtual)
“And the Spirit immediately drove [Jesus] out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.” [Mark 1:12-13]
As we move into this season of Lent, these forty days of preparation for the Baptismal feast of Easter, it feels as if we have been in the wilderness for this entire past year. However, we are also reminded in Mark’s Gospel that, not only did the “Spirit” drive Jesus into the wilderness, but, while Jesus was in the desert the “angels waited on him.” As in past years, we would love to have individuals share stories from their lives, as the message given on these Wednesday evenings. This Lent, we wish to hear how the Spirit has been a driving force in your life this past year, and what were the “angels” who have been waiting on you. This will be a valuable time to share how your faith has nurtured you, and how you have been open to the Spirit around you. This year we will begin by asking for volunteers (if we do not get enough responses, expect a phone call or email from Pr. Mike!). We will love to hear you share your wilderness journeys of this past year! As always, how you have been upheld is helpful for others to hear. The Wednesdays in Lent are: February 24; March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31. If you volunteer, please also choose a date that works best for you. Let Pastor Mike know by phone (717-334-2102, Ex 205), or email firstname.lastname@example.org, by February 8. He will confirm with you and answer any other questions you may have. Thank you! We look forward to a prayer-filled Lenten season.
Message from Pastor Andrew
On the Monday following the events at the Capital on January 6, after getting Gabs and Noah ready for school and dropping them off, I came into the office and started making phone calls.
The first person on the list was one of our more politically conservative members who I love and have a lot of respect for. The phone call had two main motivations behind it. First, I wanted to check in on this person. To see how they were doing. And second, I was hoping they could help me make sense of what had happened in Washington less than a week before.
As our almost hour-long conversation came to a close, I asked this person the question; now what? Their response:
“Now, we take a step back and let things play out.”
Take a step back and let things play out…
While some might take this response as somehow failing to respond to what had taken place, taking the easy way out, in the context of the conversation that isn’t what they were saying at all. It was a recognition of how consumed we have become with the things of politics lately… a recognition, that for some, it has literally taken over their lives… and too, it was a call to take some time for self-reflection, maybe even confession. Not bad advice.
I’m the first person to admit that I can react emotionally and don’t always take the time to look at the broader picture before responding. It’s something I’ve worked hard at since being called to St. James five years ago, and I’d like to believe I’ve made some progress. I give Pastor Mike a lot of credit for this growth. Amongst his many gifts is self-reflection and his ability to see the unspoken emotions behind a person’s words and actions.
The events of January 6 were wrong, as I made clear in my sermon the weekend following and Pastor Mike did in his, the week after that. Unfortunately, the response of many in the days following was also wrong.
While we are called to let our light shine amidst the darkness of our world as we strive for justice and peace, there are times when this work, while good-intentioned, misses the mark… when our words and deeds (our posts on social media included) can divide the Body of Christ instead of binding it together. When we demonize a whole group of people, based on the actions of a few.
There are those amongst the faithful who believe that the only real truth is that we are all sinners. While we Lutherans might argue with this till we’re blue in the face, there are places in scripture where even grace isn’t guaranteed. Regardless of if this is the only truth or not, our universal sinfulness can’t be denied. We all do wrong. We say things we shouldn’t. We hurt those around us, those we love and those whom loving is difficult. We think about our own wants and desires, before the needs of others. We make the things of this world (money, possessions, political leaders, etc.) gods… placing them above the One true God. And while facing this reality of our own sinfulness may seem far from Good News, what if acknowledging such provides a place of common ground for a more communal future?
We see this common brokenness most clearly on February 17, as we celebrate Ash Wednesday, remembering that we are dust and to dust we shall return. We are dust. Each of us, together. Equally sinful. Equally in need of the promise made true in Christ, of the forgiveness and grace that surpasses all human understanding.
As we enter into the season of Lent, looking towards the promise of Easter, may we repent – acknowledging our brokenness, turning away from those sins that cause pain and division and towards our neighbor, walking as yet by faith as one in the body of Christ.
February 7 – Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
In Isaiah the one God who sits above the earth and numbers the stars also strengthens the powerless. So in Jesus’ healing work we see the hand of the creator God, lifting up the sick woman to health and service (diakonia). Like Simon’s mother-in-law, we are lifted up and healed to serve. Following Jesus, we strengthen the powerless; like Jesus, we seek to renew our own strength in quiet times of prayer.
Readings: Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-11, 20c; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23; Mark 1:29-39
February 14 – Transfiguration of Our Lord
The Sundays after Epiphany began with Jesus’ baptism and end with three disciples’ vision of his transfiguration. In Mark’s story of Jesus’ baptism, apparently only Jesus sees the Spirit descending and hears the words from heaven. But now Jesus’ three closest friends hear the same words naming him God’s Beloved. As believers, Paul writes, we are enabled to see the God-light in Jesus’ face, because the same God who created light in the first place has shone in our hearts to give us that vision. The light of God’s glory in Jesus has enlightened us through baptism and shines in us also for others to see.
Readings: 2 Kings 2:1-12; Psalm 50:1-6; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; Mark 9:2-9
February 17 – Ash Wednesday
Join us for a Noon livestreamed Ash Wednesday worship event on February 17! Ashes will be available for pickup at the Church in the weeks prior to this event. Look for details in our upcoming announcements and on our social media channels. Office hours are weekdays from 10 a.m. – Noon.
Lenten Midweek Series
St. James will produce a special midweek series of online worship services throughout Lent this year. If you are interested in participating, please see the letter Pastor Mike wrote about this opportunity (on page three of this publication).
February 21 – First Sunday in Lent
On Ash Wednesday the church began its journey toward baptismal immersion in the death and resurrection of Christ. This year, the Sundays in Lent lead us to focus on five covenants God makes in the Hebrew Scriptures and to use them as lenses through which to view baptism. First Peter connects the way God saved Noah’s family in the flood with the way God saves us through the water of baptism. The baptismal covenant is made with us individually, but the new life we are given in baptism is for the sake of the whole world.
Readings: Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15
February 28 – Second Sunday in Lent
The second covenant in this year’s Lenten readings is the one made with Abraham and Sarah: God’s promise to make them the ancestors of many, with whom God will remain in everlasting covenant. Paul says this promise comes to all who share Abraham’s faith in the God who brings life into being where there was no life. We receive this baptismal promise of resurrection life in faith. Sarah and Abraham receive new names as a sign of the covenant, and we too get new identities in baptism, as we put on Christ.
Readings: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22:23-31; Romans 4:13-25; Mark 8:31-38
Tears We Cannot Stop: Lenten Book Discussion (Zoom)
During the 2021 season of Lent we will join together for a Zoom book discussion on five consecutive Monday afternoons from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Members of our Social Ministry Committee would like to begin a conversation together: reading, discussing, and then answering the question “how can St. James become more involved within our congregation and in our community to address issues of racial injustice?” We will begin this discussion on four consecutive weeks of Lent (February 22, March 1, 8, 15) by reading a book together. On the fifth week (March 22) we intend to come away with several clear goals for our congregation. The title of the book is: Tears We Cannot Stop – A Sermon to White America, by Michael Eric Dyson. Fred and Joan Horak, Pastors Andrew, and Mike will lead this conversation. Please sign up online for this discussion: StJamesGettysburg.com/Lenten-Book
Annual Fastnachts Fundraiser Update
Following countless conversations within our congregation, it is with a heavy heart we must announce the cancelation of our annual Fastnacht Fundraiser for our 2021 Lenten Season. We are blessed with many gracious hands supporting us, and we have been so grateful for their presence in this ministry. Unfortunately, the number of volunteers required in close proximity while making our beloved treats does not allow for a safe environment adhering to state and church policies for restricting exposure for COVID-19. While this is the most responsible action, we are heartbroken as it has connected our congregation to our community and the faith formation of our youth.
We are so grateful for your understanding of this difficult decision and your support in this time. Next year, Ash Wednesday falls on March 2nd, 2022. We hope you will join us again in 2022 as we prayerfully anticipate encouraging our youth and community in the years to come.
Questions? Email Kristin at email@example.com
It was wonderful to continue the Youth Breakfast Ministry through Fall 2020, and we plan to resume at a later date. We will love seeing everyone back in the Youth House Wednesday mornings when we can do so again responsibly!
Want to help us connect with each other?
Excited about getting creative to help others feel loved and connected? We have lots of ideas and would love for you to get involved! Please contact Kristin for more details to help support our families in this season.
Digital Fellowship This Month
Elementary School Zoom
Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m.
Middle School Zoom
Tuesdays at 3:30 p.m.
High School Zoom
Wednesdays at 7 p.m.
Next Confirmation Check In
February 21, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Middle School Virtual Quake Event
Live February 27! Be on the lookout – details announced soon about this exciting event!
Livestream our Youth in their Sports Games!
Want to support our youth? Gettysburg Area School District is LiveStreaming our Youth Home games – Gettysburg Area High School Girls Varsity Basketball features Karli Bortner and Emili Scavitto. The picture below was featured in the Gettysburg Times for Senior Night!
Calls to Action
All the slots have been filled for the C.A.R.E.S. breakfast item donations and breakfast sandwich making. Thank you so much for your support of this very worthwhile mission of the church and community.
Those donating nonperishable items to be used for the breakfasts may drop them off at the church office between 10 a.m. and Noon each weekday. They will be moved to one of the nearby rooms for assembly when St. James provides breakfasts, February 14 – 27.
Those cooking hot breakfast sandwiches or breakfast casseroles should acquire 6”x6” eco-friendly take-out boxes from the church office several days prior to the date scheduled. The morning of your breakfast, bring the sandwiches/casserole to the Three Crowns Motor Lodge (205 Steinwehr Avenue) where you will meet Bill Shoemaker who will have bags of the other breakfast items such as cereal, milk, fruit, plasticware, etc. The hot sandwiches will be combined with the breakfast bag of items and distributed to the C.A.R.E.S. client doors. Please arrive at Three Crowns at 8:00 a.m. sharp.
Mission Fund Committee
At its annual meeting in January of 2010, the Congregation
re-affirmed a resolution by Congregation Council to allocate one tenth of undesignated bequests to support the local and worldwide mission of the church. Starting in 2020, the main source of funding for this mission switched to 30% of the Endowment Fund distributions from its ELCA Fund A.
The purpose of the Mission Fund Committee is to solicit suggestions from members of the congregation about organizations or programs to be considered for support and then to evaluate the suggestions and make specific recommendations to Congregation Council for distribution of the Mission Fund monies. Two projects received Mission Fund support in 2020:
- Reach Mission Trips: $2,500
- Lutheran World Relief Middle East Appeal: $2,500
The committee is now ready to receive suggestions from members of the congregation for the 2021 distributions from the Mission Fund… If you have an organization or program that you wish to recommend for consideration for possible support, please send the following information to David Flesner by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or in writing through the church office by Noon on Thursday, March 4:
- Your name and your contact information (telephone and/or e-mail address).
- The name and contact information of the organization or program that you are recommending (name of organization or program, name of a person, telephone, address, website, etc.).
- The mission of the organization or program and a rationale for support from St. James, including the extent of need for that project.
As the committee develops recommendations for distribution of the Mission Fund monies, it keeps in mind the overall mission of St. James: “We respond to God’s abundant grace by being hearers, proclaimers, and doers of the Word.”
Reports and Reviews
Adult Discussion Class Yearly Report – 2020
Members of the Adult Discussion Class are proud to serve St. James and others locally and worldwide. This year, our class members, in addition to Sunday School support, provided over $12,000.00 to the following church and community organizations: CARES, SCCAP, Casa de la Cultura, and Odila Support. In addition, class members purchased thirty-seven $25.00 Christmas gift cards for a total of $975.00 given to the Circles Program (SCCAP) family members.
Capital Campaign Report through December 31, 2020
St. James Lutheran Church has received $726,454 in contributions towards the three-year Capital Campaign that started in November 2019. That is almost 75% towards the goal of $1,000,000 and we are very blessed and appreciative of congregation support.
The congregation expended $400,838 towards projects plus gifts-in-kind of about $45,000 donated from generous members. Major projects substantially completed include repair and replacement of the roof, generator and repointing brick and repair of the capstones. Also completed was replacement of the windows on the North East section of the building, upgraded fire alarm system, new kitchen cabinets and counters, repair of front doors, resurfacing parking lot, and completion of much of the Worship Area Renewal project. Ongoing projects include enclosing the lower level stairway to eliminate the security gate. Projects in the design stage include repair or replacement of remaining windows on the south and southeast portion of the building and an upgrade to the A/V and sound system.
We are incredibly grateful for the volunteers and staff who have worked tirelessly on the project thus far and the many donors who have made this possible.
St. James Payroll Protection Program (PPP) Loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA)
St. James applied for and received a $235,000 PPP loan from the SBA on April 14, 2020. This loan provides organizations with funding to maintain their staffing during the economic uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus. The underlying amount was for $107,200 for St. James Lutheran Church and $127,800 for the Early Learning Center personnel (about 26 people) which enabled the congregation to fund most positions during the 24 week alternate PPP period from April 19 to October 3. The forgiveness application was approved by ACNB bank and the Small Business Administration on December 30, 2020 in full and recognized as grant income by the church and the Early Learning Center. This loan and forgiveness applications were approved by Congregation Council.
In addition, the Early Learning Center has received $119,400 in COVID relief grants that has enabled the ELC to continue providing Child Care Services during the pandemic.
COVID-19 Task Force
St. James COVID-19 Task force (10 people) has been meeting every two weeks since May 12 to review guidelines and regulations from Lower Susquehanna Synod, Pennsylvania Health Department, Center for Disease Control, and many other sources. The COVID task force works closely with the Staff of the Congregation and Early Learning Center to review in-person activities and develop policies, procedures, and guidelines to help keep people safe during the pandemic.
Council Corner: December 16 Council meeting highlights
Visit our website to read the entire approved minutes document for this meeting: StJamesGettysburg.com/council-summary. If you need a printed copy of the minutes, please give the office a call at 717-334-2012.
- Considerable time was spent discussing a task force to look at the usage of the building in the future. Many names were suggested and Executive Committee will work to make a diverse and manageable list of members to invite to serve in these discussions. Members were challenged to “think big” on what life in the congregation might look like on the other side of the pandemic. Discussion was had regarding whether the Slentz House and the Youth House are the best facilities to support our homeless and youth ministries and if something different couldn’t be done regarding those properties. Council will continue discussions around this.
- Council heard and discussed with pastors plans regarding a pause in the return to worship due to the upswing in COVID-19 cases in Adams County and Pennsylvania.
- Updates were received from property regarding the capital improvements; youth committee around potential plans for the Fastnacht fundraiser; and music ministry task force on filling the position of minister of music.
Council Corner: January 7 & 20 Council meetings (Special meeting and regular monthly meeting) highlights
Approved January minutes will be added to the St. James website after the February Council meeting (StJamesGettysburg.com/council-summary).
- Council ratified the equitable distribution of the PPP loan forgiveness (which is charted now as a grant given the congregation qualified for full 100% forgiveness) between the payroll of the church office staff and the Early Learning Center staff.
- James’ lay voting members to synod assembly were nominated and approved as Sharon Kaya, Alan Haynes, and Emili Scavitto fulfilling the desired combination of a lay female, lay male, and lay young person. The pastors attend as voting members as well.
- Received and discussed updates on the return to worship (potentially back at Nawakwa in the short-term); next steps for personnel and music ministry task force regarding filling position of minister of music; the outlook for Gettysburg CARES; and the establishment of a strategic task force to evaluate the building and facilities usage going forward.
Messages from Members
Thank you to our St. James family for the prayers and cards during these difficult few weeks in the passing of my parents and grandparents.
~Kim Guise and family
Gladys Woerner greatly appreciates all the cards everyone sent to help her celebrate her 104th birthday in December!
December 27, 2020 Barry Showers
December 30, 2020 Joan Ditzler
January 6, 2021 Bruce Hill
January 10, 2021 Mary Shelleman
January 13, 2021 Jay Zimmerman
January 16, 2021 Edna Misner
January 22, 2021 Marjorie Troutman
January 27, 2021 Arlene Lawver
50+ Wedding Anniversaries
February 10, 1962 Thomas and Madeline Gormley 59 years
February 24, 1968 Stephen and Rebecca Harris 53 years
February 16, 1969 Charles and Judy Ann Sterner 52 years
February 14, 1970 Dennis and Rebecca Carter 51 years
Baptism of Our Lord
On January 10, we lifted up the Baptized of the past year.
Brooklyn Marie Miller
Charles Scott Haberkorn
Annabelle Mae Haberkorn
Emma Lynn McCabe
Cole Anthony Johnson
Bexley Nadine Nicholas
Josephine Sue Crigger
Ronan Michelangelo Hawk
Connect with St. James online
- StJamesGettysburg.com/YouTube (Sermons and special music services)
- Visit our website to subscribe and read
- The Sermon Blog
- Pastor Mike’s Morning Musings
- The Messenger
- eBlast Announcements