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Message from Pastor Mike

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains . . . and not only creation, but we ourselves. . . .” (Romans 8:22)

Jesus Visits the Zoo

A few years ago I heard a sermon entitled, “Jesus Visits the Zoo.” I forget if it was meant to be a children’s’ sermon, but it did not need to be. Its message was for all of us. In the sermon, Jesus begins his day by visiting a zoo. He gets there early so some animals were only slowly waking up. As Jesus stirs the animals awake, He invites them to walk together. And before you know it, Jesus had the peacocks, zebras, and lions walking with him. Even a snake crawls along with the entire troupe dancing through the zoo! The gorillas then joined in, however it is that gorillas dance. Together they hatch a plan to escape the zoo, until one peacock wonders if the children will all be sad if they come to the zoo and there are no animals there. The sermon ends without us knowing if they follow through their plan of escape.

In a wispy, yet candid way, this sermon extended the invitation to make us wonder how we humans might live humbly, justly and responsibly in relationship with all of God’s creation.

On April 22, we celebrated Earth Day. This year, the theme, “Restore the Earth,” offered us the mandate: make new the earth in which we live! On the weekend of April 25, our Creation Care Committee helped formulate our worship service around this theme!

In the scripture text from Romans, although St. Paul was not writing an “Earth Day” sermon, the image is a powerful one, of the whole creation groaning in labor pains, struggling to give birth to new life. It is we, who are the mid-wives, encouraging and enabling such new life to take place. Here at St. James, our Creation Care Committee has given us such good examples (i.e. responsible use of water, caring for our local streams, recycling batteries, and many others), but it is up to each one of us to become mid-wives in the process of birthing our fragile earth to new life.

So I am left wondering: Exactly what will happen to the earth in the years to come? How will each of us respond to God’s claim on the earth as well as God’s claim on each one of us? To me, it seems not an accident that Earth Day most always falls within the season of Easter, the season of new life and life renewed. It is always the perfect perspective when we think of our relationship with the earth, with all creation. Easter life is a gift. Witnessing to it, however bold or subtle, is the bequest we offer in return. Let’s visit a zoo! Let’s visit the earth around us! Let’s take our part seriously in birthing new life to all creation!

Blessings during this season of life renewed!
~pastor mike

Message from Pastor Andrew

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

With Mother’s Day falling in the month of May, it is a time to reflect on the act of motherhood. When you go through seminary, there is great discussion on how to approach Mother’s Day in the life of the parish. On the one hand, lifting up the gift of motherhood. On the other hand, wanting to be sensitive to those who, regardless of desires for one reason or another have not had children of their own, and also to those who have had less than ideal experiences with their own mother or as a mother themselves.

While I could not have asked for a better mother than my own, I became very aware of why this sensitivity around Mother’s Day is so important when my daughter Gabrielle lost her birth mother. With great anxiety, I wondered how she must feel when everyone around her is celebrating and she was left with no reason to… what was going on in her heart and in her mind… I remember vividly that first Mother’s Day following, when she made a Mother’s Day flowerpot as a craft along with her classmates and had no mom to give it to. Naturally, my heart was broken for her. As the saying goes, there is no greater pain than the pain a parent feels for their children. And while I did everything I could do to be the best dad I could be, still the void remained. No matter how good I got at braiding hair, painting nails, and playing with dolls, there was nothing that would change the fact that I wasn’t mom.

When Christina walked into our worship space at St. James on that beautiful Sunday morning just a few years ago, almost immediately I knew that my prayers had been answered in more ways than I ever thought possible. As the days went on, the most obvious: the virtually immediate aura of motherhood that she brought to Gabrielle. An aura that has become all the more evident each and every day. Something I can’t thank God enough for.

While Christina’s motherhood has been official in Gabrielle’s eyes for about as long as the two of us have been together as a couple, this past Valentine’s Day, Gabrielle asked Christina if she would make it official in the eyes of the state and legally adopt her. And so, late in the morning on Friday April 23rd the judge put to paper what was already in our hearts.

At Jesus’ birth, after the shepherds and angels had left and all was calm, Luke writes that Mary treasured all that had taken place – pondering it in her heart. It’s safe to say that her admission into motherhood didn’t happen in exactly the way she dreamed it would be growing up. None the less, there it sat in the depths of her soul. As the story goes, her life as mom didn’t likely go as she thought it would either. No matter how much warning the angel gave her, she never could have imagined her experiences as the mother of God – the good and the bad. Yet, as Jesus hangs from the cross and his life comes to an end, there she stood – weeping. And, just as she did when he entered the world as a tiny babe on that O Holy Night, Mary the Mother was left to ponder all that had happened in her heart.

Whatever Mother’s Day means for you, know that you are totally and completely loved by God. Just as Mary cradled the baby Jesus in her arms, pondering His blessing, treasuring them in her heart, know that God holds you all the more – in your successes and in your failures, in your times of celebration and in your times of hardship.

Bound to this love, may we witness to it by word and deed, that all would come to know the inexpressible joy that comes with being children of God.

With love,
~Pastor Andrew

Worship Previews

May 2 — Fifth Sunday of Easter

This Sunday’s image of how the risen Christ shares his life with us is the image of the vine. Christ the vine and we the branches are alive in each other, in the mystery of mutual abiding described in the gospel and the first letter of John. Baptism makes us a part of Christ’s living and life-giving self and makes us alive with Christ’s life. As the vine brings food to the branches, Christ feeds us at his table. We are sent out to bear fruit for the life of the world. Readings: Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 22:25-31; 1 John 4:7-21; John 15:1-8

May 9 — Sixth Sunday of Easter

This Sunday’s image of the life the risen Christ shares with us is the image of friendship. We are called to serve others as Jesus came to serve; but for John’s gospel, the image of servanthood is too hierarchical, too distant, to capture the essence of life with Christ. Friendship captures the love, the joy, the deep mutuality of the relationship into which Christ invites us. The Greeks believed that true friends are willing to die for each other. This is the mutual love of Christian community commanded by Christ and enabled by the Spirit. Readings: Acts 10:44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17

May 16— Seventh Sunday of Easter

The gospel for Easter’s seventh Sunday is always taken from the long prayer Jesus prays for his followers in John’s gospel on the night before his death, and always includes Jesus’ desire that his followers will be one as he and the Father are one. This oneness is not mere doctrinal agreement or institutional unity, but mutual abiding, interpenetrating life, mutual love, and joy. This oneness is the work of the Spirit whom we have received but also await. Come, Holy Spirit! Readings: Acts 1:15-17, 21-26; Psalm 1; 1 John 5:9-13; John 17:6-19

May 23— Day of Pentecost

Fifty days after Easter, we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Crossing all boundaries that would separate us, the Spirit brings the wideness of God’s mercy to places we least expect it—to a crowd of strangers of different lands and tongues, to dry bones, to our weak hearts. Jesus promises his disciples that they will be accompanied by the Holy Spirit, and that this Spirit reveals the truth. We celebrate that we too have been visited with this same Spirit. Guided by the truth, we join together in worship, and then disperse to share the fullness of Christ’s love with the world. Readings: Acts 2:1-21; Ezekiel 37:1-14 (alternate); Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; Romans 8:22-27; Acts 2:1-21 (alternate); John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

May 30— The Holy Trinity

When we say God is the triune God, we are saying something about who God is beyond, before, and after the universe: that there is community within God. Our experience of this is reflected in Paul’s words today. When we pray to God as Jesus prayed to his Abba (an everyday, intimate parental address), the Spirit prays within us, creating between us and God the same relationship Jesus has with the one who sent him. Readings: Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 29; Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17

Return to In-Person Worship

May Outdoor Services

Easter services in the parking lot were so wonderful that we are planning a month of outdoor worship in the same location.

Please plan to join us outdoors at the rear entrance of the church on Sundays in May. Services will start at 8:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.

In the case of bad weather, we won’t cancel — we’ll move indoors. For that reason, we’re asking that everyone please register their family’s attendance at StJamesGettysburg.com/ChurchRSVP. Knowing how many are planning to attend will help us accommodate everyone, rain or shine!

There will be no parking in the church parking lot; please find on-street parking.  If you need to drop off someone, do so along Stratton Street. We will be closing Zerfing Alley to vehicles.

What to bring:

  • Masks; must be worn at all times
  • Chairs; please set up in the parking lot, not in the alley way; ensure social distancing is maintained

What to expect:

  • Communion
  • Singing

If you are more comfortable worshipping online, we’ll be providing an opportunity for you to connect with us through our YouTube channel: StJamesGettysburg.com/YouTube

Romans Bible Study with Pastor Andrew

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1

Beginning on May 6, our Thursday morning Bible study group will begin to look at Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.  As far as Lutheran Christians go, one of our most important books of the Bible.  For those interested in joining this study, please email Pastor Andrew (ageib@stjamesgettysburg.org) for the Zoom link. We will gather via Zoom each Thursday at  10:00 a.m.  New participants are always welcome!

Flower Arrangements for Worship

Flower arrangements are needed for June. If you would like to place flowers on the altar (arrangements are around $30), please contact Judy Seilhamer at 717-334-4301.

For YOUth

Questions? Email Kristin at youth@stjamesgettysburg.org

Youth Breakfasts

Join us for MS + HS Wednesday Youth Breakfasts at 6:45 a.m. in the Youth House through the remainder of the school year.

Time to sign up for 2021 Nawakwa Summer Camp!

We would love to send all of you, email Kristin for details.

Elementary

K-5 Wednesday Youth Group!

Join us Wednesdays 3:30—5:00 p.m. in the Youth Yard for fun, fellowship, and faith formation!

Kids Night

Friday May 7, 4:00—8:00 p.m. Join us to play games in the yard, have dinner, and bond as a group! Feel free to bring a friend! Please let Kristin know if you’re in so she can plan supervision and food numbers.

Middle and High School

Middle School Youth Group!

Weekly Middle School group meets Tuesday afternoons, 3:00—5:00 p.m.

Confirmation

Confirmation Camp @ Nawakwa

June 13—16: Camp Nawakwa is taking proper precautions, and we are so excited to join you in faith and fun in this week of camp!

Confirmation Service

Sunday May 23, 3:00—5:00 p.m. Family and Close Friends are invited to celebrate our 2021 confirmands with this service in the Youth Yard specifically dedicated to them!

Racial Justice Committee

Pastor Mike and Pastor Andrew are dedicated to shining a light on the issues surrounding racial justice, starting here at St. James. Over the past few weeks their preaching the Gospel message has contained some exceptionally good and “no room for doubt” reflections on what it means to be Christ’s children. They are doing their work from the pulpit what we all at St. James are called to do. The Racial Justice Committee is taking this as a challenge to grow in our Baptismal gifts. As we have been reminded the last few weeks: Jesus is with us. He will lead us even where we do not believe we can go.

Following our Lenten book study, where more than 30 people read Tears We Cannot Stop, by Michael Eric Dyson, we all have a clearer understanding of what it is like to be black in the United States. We also should be aware of our own white privilege and how white privilege has not only affected our lives but those of black people. I hope we can take a good look in the mirror. Even those of us who do not believe we are prejudiced, are complicit.

Because this issue is so pervasive, ingrained, difficult, complicated and can be overwhelming, we are starting to explore racial justice with our own St. James community. The Racial Justice Committee members have several ideas that may help us open our minds and hearts, taking actions at St. James that will lead us forward to future action.

This committee is one that will create opportunities for St. James to be active in living our Christian lives remembering that the directive is “to love one another.” Please consider joining this newest committee. If you do not want or cannot join this committee, we will offer projects and activities that you may join. We want all of St. James to be part of this. All activities will be announced so you can join us. Please contact Joan Horak (jmhorak61@gmail.com) if you want information or wish to join the Racial Justice Committee.

Council Corner

April Council Meeting Highlights

  • Considerable time was spent discussing the process and plans for returning to worship. Council members have a variety of views on how quickly the congregation should proceed and those views were shared.  The pastors and staff, at present, will make the final decision while closely monitoring community spread and the rate of local infection. Plans are to remain outside in the church parking lot with a small and reduced service inside if there is inclement weather. Because the situation is fluid, plans will continue to evolve and could be modified.
  • Council finalized nominations for 2021 elections. After advertising in the congregation, several current council members, as well as one or two additional persons, are willing to run.  It was also pointed out that the slate of council members elected in 2020 will actually need to be elected to two-year terms as they were all appointed during the pandemic when no congregational meeting could be held.
  • Additional items the council addressed were the allocation of the Mission Fund income from the Missions Committee recommendations which were based on several ministries in need.  The congregation will be granting funds to SCCAP; an ELCA congregation in New Orleans; and LWR relief efforts in Yemen.  Additionally council approved funding to work on the third phase of the columbarium and heard updates on the work of Building Use Taskforce as they clean out items stored for many years in church closets.  During these cleanup sessions it was reported that Pr. Andrew literally found Jesus.

Capital Campaign Report

Through March 31, 2021

St. James Lutheran Church has received $826,636 in contributions towards the three year Capital Campaign that started in November 2019. The first quarter of 2021 had $100,183 of contributions and no expenses as many projects have been postponed due to the pandemic.

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.

Impact

C.A.R.E.S. Finishes Shortened Season

On April 5, Gettysburg C.A.R.E.S. finished their ninth year of providing shelter for our homeless. The program was scaled down in order to comply with COVID-19 guidelines.

Very little of it resembled prior years. It is hoped that C.A.R.E.S. can return to their original program model, utilizing their partner churches for eight months, beginning in October of 2021. It is also hoped that all the faithful volunteers can once again be part of the program.

The shelter season opened on November 30, 2020, at a local motel where 25 rooms were rented for the season. Because of COVID, case management services were limited and there was little activity at the Resource Center / Slentz House. Those guests who were eligible applied for housing through the Adams County Housing Authority. This process was slow moving, again due to COVID.

Meals for the guests proved to be challenging. Thanks to Bill Shoemaker who used his organizational skills to schedule most of our partner churches to prepare individual breakfasts and deliver them to the motel. Thanks, also, to all the many people at St. James who were involved in purchasing food and supplies, and assembling and delivering the breakfasts for two weeks in February. Lunch was available at the Soup Kitchen. Through the generosity of the Gettysburg Area Ministerium, vouchers were available for evening meals at local nearby restaurants and one restaurant delivered meals two days a week at no cost.

This year was filled with learning experiences for C.A.R.E.S. Fortunately there were no cases of COVID within the staff or guests. Again, many thanks to St. James members for the many caring ways C.A.R.E.S. was supported this season.

So many gifts! So many blessings!

Calls to Action

Habitat for Humanity Build Blitz

Workers are needed for a Habitat for Humanity Blitz Build June 3—5 and 10—12. The work day lasts from 8:00 a.m. until late afternoon.  You don’t have to be an expert builder, as there is “on the job” training. If you can volunteer even for a few hours, that will be a great help. Thank you for supporting this vital ministry!  For more information, contact Shirley Sanders at
sandersds@comcast.net or 717-334-9724, or call the church office.

First Sunday Food Collection

Bring food contributions for the SCCAP food pantry to Sunday services on May 2. No glass items, please.

Project Promise: LWR Personal Care Kit Campaign for Yemen

The World Outreach committee will sponsor a Personal Care Kit campaign from Sunday, May 16 to Sunday, May 30. Working with Kristen Slaybaugh, we will meet with children in the Wednesday Youth Group to put together 50 kits with supplies purchased by World Outreach monies. Representatives from LWR-IMA will visit the children to show us how Lutheran World Relief (LWR) and their partner IMA World Health help children all around the world.

Yemen is one of the world’s poorest countries, and the scene of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Even before their civil war started in 2015 half of Yemen’s population lived below the poverty line, but now it’s 60 percent. As many as 10 million people are suffering from malnutrition, and nearly a quarter of a million are in danger of starving. LWR and IMA World Health help internally displaced Yemenis (refugees in their own country) survive war and other disasters and assist with meeting urgent needs. This includes improving access to safe water and promoting good hygiene practices by distributing personal care kits.

We invite the congregation to join us and support LWR-IMA and the people of Yemen by gathering supplies and making kits at home. Bring the kits with you to May services or drop them off at the church office anytime during church hours!

Include the Following in Each Personal Care Kit

  • ONE light-weight bath-size towel (between 20” x 40” and 52” x 27”), dark color recommended
  • TWO or three bath-size bars of soap equaling 8 to 9 oz., any brand, in original wrapping
  • ONE adult-size toothbrush in its original packaging (Toothbrush multi-packs may be used by sealing an individual toothbrush in a business-size envelope; no plastic bags or wrap)
  • ONE sturdy comb, remove packaging
  • ONE metal nail clippers (attached file optional), remove packaging

Some Important Guidelines to Remember

  • Be sure to shop for light- or medium-weight towels, which are easier for Kit recipients to hand wash and air dry, take up less storage space and are considerably less expensive than the fluffier towels that we may prefer to use.
  • Bath towels vary in size. The 52” X 27” size listed in the guidelines is the maximum size. 20” x 40” is a good guideline for a minimum size.
  • Please give new items only.
  • Please do not donate items with any religious symbols, messages or your group’s name.
  • Please do not donate any items decorated with a U.S. flag, patriotic or military symbols, or references to the armed forces, including camouflage.
  • Do not add other items or leave out any of the items listed.
  • All items should be new and in good condition.
  • Do not enclose the Kit or any of its contents in plastic bags.

How to Pack Your Project Promise Personal Care Kits

Fold the towel in half. Place the rest of the items in the towel, fold and roll so nothing falls out, and secure with yarn, ribbon, string or rubber bands.

Welcome

We are Christ’s people, and this is Christ’s house with its doors wide open. If you are passing through, Godspeed. If you are looking for a worship home, stay with us. We invite guests to join us, but most of all, to return often.

Welcome to long-time Lutherans, Christians from every tradition, and people new to faith. Welcome to all who have no church home, want to follow Christ, have doubts, or do not believe. Welcome to new visitors and old friends. Welcome to people of every age and size, color and culture, every sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, socio-economic status, marital status, ability, and challenge. Welcome to believers and questioners, and to questioning believers. This is a place where you are welcome to celebrate and sorrow, rejoice, and recover. This is a place where lives are made new. Come and listen for the Holy Spirit calling you to love your neighbor wholeheartedly, seek justice, create peace, and practice compassion.

As members of the body of Christ, we are called to be ministers of reconciliation both in the church and in the world. Through our baptism we are reconciled to God through the saving grace of Christ Jesus and challenged by the Gospel to be agents of healing and love within our church and society. As a community of faith, we proclaim this statement of welcome.

Parish Records

Deaths

March 29, 2021  Donna Mae Carbaugh Shull

April 2, 2021  Shirley A. Williams

April 10, 2021  Perry A. A. Fleshman

April 17, 2021  Michael Frimpter

50+ Wedding Anniversaries

May 14  Barry and Donna Bixler (60 years)

May 22  Jerry and Sandra Mills (56 years)

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