The Messenger – March 2023
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A Message From Pastor Andrew
One of the significant factors about the crucifixion narratives in all four Gospels is the silence of Christ before his accusers. When Christ did speak in those final hours before he gave up his life, it was clear that his mind was not on revenge – not even on self-defense. Forgiveness was the predominant theme of his thoughts throughout the whole ordeal of his crucifixion. At the height of his agony, at the very moment when most victims of crucifixion might scream out in fury with a curse, he prayed for forgiveness for his tormentors: “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing…”
As we continue to make our way through this Lenten season, we journey together to the cross. While Lutherans (and other Christians, no doubt) tend to gravitate towards those back pews of the worship space, one of the pastoral privileges I’ve come to enjoy is having a seat right up front. Outside of the practical reasons, sitting up front and center has allowed me to worship with little distraction (though don’t think I’m not aware of everything happening behind me!). It has also given me the unique perspective of viewing Jesus in our last supper mural, through the opening of our altar cross.
We begin the month of April with Palm Sunday, the day Jesus entered Jerusalem for the final time. The following week is Holy Week, the most significant time on the Christian calendar. By the second Sunday of the month it’s Easter. And by the afternoon of that day, most of us have moved on from thoughts of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and his rising from the tomb to Easter egg hunts and what sits before us for Easter brunch. In a matter of hours, we will have put what is at the heart of our faith aside for earthly stuff.
As a pastor, there are few moments throughout the year that I look forward to more than Holy Week. Here at St. James we offer worship services every evening throughout the week, followed by our regular weekend services. Though each year, if I’m being honest, I’m a bit disappointed by the attendance – especially on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
The quote above, by John MacArthur, gets at the heart of Christ’s crucifixion. Betrayed by his closest friends, tortured beyond imagination – his flesh ripped from bone, forced to carry his cross throughout the crowded streets of the city as he’s spat upon and mocked, Jesus remains silent. He doesn’t fight back. He doesn’t respond in anger to those who curse him. He doesn’t condemn those who lied or those in positions of power who laid this fate upon him. He kept his words to himself… That is until he had nothing left… Then, with his final breadth, he prays… not for himself, but for those who hung him… “Father forgive…”
After a couple of meetings on a recent Sunday afternoon, I made my way into the worship space, sat in my usual seat, and looked upon Jesus through the cross. I said a prayer, and then, as I stood, for whatever reason, the thought came across my mind to look over Jesus’ disciples though the cross as well. Judas who betrayed, Peter who denied and disowned, the rest who abandoned him. And the words that came to me? “Father forgive…”
As we draw closer to Holy Week, who is it that you need to view through the cross? What betrayal do you need to let go of? Who is it that you need to forgive? What is it that you need to forgive yourself for?
Child of God, marked with the cross of Christ, know that Jesus’ words of forgiveness are for your worst enemy and for you as well. May we be a sign of this gift of life wherever it is needed in our lives. May we view all things through the lens of the cross.
A Message From Vicar Libby Baker-Mikesell
This month, we will celebrate an additional feast day in our church calendar: The Feast of Saint Patrick. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17th with a plethora of Kelly green, shamrocks, and colorfully colored green beverages. On Saint Patrick’s Day, it seems that the whole world is Irish regardless of country of origin.
Saint Patrick was born in Great Britan in the 4th century and was sold into slavery in Ireland when he was 16 years old. As a child he spent years working in captivity as a shepherd and found solace in the Christian faith. After an escape attempt from Ireland and another capture by English slavers, he found himself searching for his life’s purpose. He found his purpose in the Christian faith of his youth and studied at the monastery of Auxerre before becoming a Catholic priest. He traveled back to the place of his captivity and began to spread the Catholic tradition in the Irish countryside. He confronted the Laoghaire, The High King of Tara, about his inability to preach the Gospel to the Irish people. According to legend, he picked a three leaf clover from the field and used it as a metaphor to explain the unity of the Holy Trinity. The King relented and Patrick was free to evangelize his Catholic faith across Ireland.
The story of Saint Patrick is one that is familiar to us. Most of us are familiar with the story of the three-leafed clover example of the Trinity and Patrick’s evangelism of the Catholic faith. Patrick’s story is also a reminder that God never leaves us, and that he is with us amid all of life’s challenges.
At the heart of Patrick’s story lies a story of unwavering faith despite severe obstacles. Patrick endured slavery, escape, re-capture, and a time of wandering in a literal and figurative wilderness. Yet despite his trials, he never forgot that God was with him. He saw God in everyday objects, from the rising sun to the setting of the day.
We too are called to recognize the presence of God in our lives. We are to seek God in times of conflict, trial, and tribulation. May we always see God’s presence and rely on him as a guide, a friend, and a parent throughout our lives.
-Vicar Libby Baker-Mikesell
Knot a Quilt Days April 24-25,and May 1
Every week we read news reports of major disasters around the world: the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, the Ukraine war, the debilitating wars, droughts and famines in Africa. Here in our safe and quiet town, volunteers at St. James have been working through the winter season to contribute to Lutheran World Relief’s Quilt Mission Fund. We set a semi-annual goal of 40 quilts every spring and fall. We need help adding the finishing touches by securing the three layers with knots before they are donated to LWR.
If you can tie your shoes or a fishing lure, then you have all the skills you need to knot a quilt during the Spring 2023 Knot a Quilt sessions. All ages and abilities are welcome! Come for 30 minutes, for an hour, for the morning! Bring a friend! We will have pastries and fruit, tea, coffee, and juice for snacks!
Dates: April 24-25 and May 1
Times: 9:30 am -12:00 noon
Where: Room 303
Music Notes from Jonathan
Anna Smith is a senior at Dallastown Area High School. In addition to organ, she studies piano, harp, and clarinet. She participates in her school’s music program as an accompanist to the choir, a drum major in the marching band, principal clarinetist in the symphonic band, a jazz pianist, and the harpist in the orchestra. Outside of school, she is the harpist in the York Youth Symphony Orchestra, and she will be participating in the All-Eastern Mixed Choir this coming April as a vocalist.
Being raised in a musical family that valued religion gave her exposure to the organ from a young age. She has always been very drawn to the instrument and finally began to teach herself the basics of the organ during her freshman year of high school, biking to church before or after school. In June of 2021, she became the church musician for Zion UCC in York, where she began studying under the direction of Richard Frey.
Through the support of the Braband Organ Scholarship, Richard has been taking her to a new church every week so that she may get a feel for different types of organs and learn as much as she can during her hour-long lesson. She enjoys the versatility and array of diverse instrumentation that the organ provides, being the soloist and the accompanist at the same time. Anna is currently applying to many schools as a harp performance major, and she wishes to obtain a graduate degree in conducting after that. She is very excited to continue her studies on the organ. She finds much joy in sharing music with the Lord and his people.
The purpose of the Braband Organ Scholarship is to encourage individuals to become church organists. The scholarship was established by St James Lutheran Church to honor the 45-year music ministry by Timothy and Barbara Braband, who retired in 2020. The scholarship provides 25 free one-hour organ lessons spread over the course of the academic year. The scholarship is open to all applicants regardless of age or church affiliation. Additional information and application materials may be found on the web at: StJamesGettysburg.org/worship/music/organ-scholarship
Worship Assistance Coordination
After more than five years of superbly coordinating volunteers for worship services, Dee Wells is taking a step back from that role. She has been working with Denise Wood to take over the responsibilities, and continues to provide valued and thorough guidance in the transfer process.
Please be patient as we make the transition over the next month or two. Feel free to email Denise ([email protected]) with any comments or concerns. This transition offers us an opportunity for us to review how things work as well as make changes along the way. Thanks for your patience and support – let’s do this!
And a thousand thanks to Dee for her leadership, organization, and dedication over the last five years! She’s done so much behind the scenes, and we genuinely appreciate her help.
March 1: Midweek Worship
5:15PM Dinner provided by Evangelism /Fellowship Committee
6:30PM “Unfailing Light” Worship
Speaker: Amy Crist
March 5: Second Sunday in Lent
During Lent we journey with all those around the world who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil. In today’s gospel Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born of water and Spirit. At the font we are a given a new birth as children of God. As God made a covenant with Abraham, in baptism God promises to raise us up with Christ to new life. From worship we are sent forth to proclaim God’s love for all the world.
Preacher: Vicar Libby Baker-Mikesell
Readings: Genesis 12:1-4a Psalm 121
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 John 3:1-17
March 8: MidWeek Worship
5:15PM Dinner provided by Adult Discussion Group
6:30PM “Unfailing Light” Worship
Speaker: Mark Witherow
March 12: Third Sunday in Lent
In today’s gospel the Samaritan woman asks Jesus for water, an image of our thirst for God. Jesus offers living water, a sign of God’s grace flowing from the waters of baptism. The early church used this gospel and those of the next two Sundays to deepen baptismal reflection during the final days of preparation before baptism at Easter. As we journey to the resurrection feast, Christ comes among us in word, bath, and meal—offering us the life-giving water of God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Preacher: The Rev. Andrew R. Geib
Readings: Exodus 17:1-7 Psalm 95
Romans 5:1-11 John 4:5-42
March 15: Midweek Worship
5:15PM Dinner provided by Church Council
6:30PM “Unfailing Light” Worship
Speaker: Andy Keyser
March 19: Fourth Sunday in Lent
Baptism is sometimes called enlightenment. The gospel for this Sunday is the story of the man born blind healed by Christ. “I was blind, now I see,” declares the man. In baptism God opens our eyes to see the truth of who we are: God’s beloved children. As David was anointed king of Israel, in baptism God anoints our head with oil, and calls us to bear witness to the light of Christ in our daily lives.
Preacher: Vicar Libby Baker-Mikesell
Readings: 1 Samuel 16:1-13 Psalm 23
Ephesians 5:8-14 John 9:1-41
March 22: Midweek Worship
5:15PM Dinner provided by Movers & Shapers and Faith & Fellowship Sunday School Classes
6:30PM “Unfailing Light” Worship
Speaker: Wayne Hill
March 26: Fifth Sunday in Lent
In today’s gospel Jesus reveals his power over death by raising Lazarus from the dead. The prophet Ezekiel prophesies God breathing new life into dry bones. To those in exile or living in the shadows of death, these stories proclaim God’s promise of resurrection. In baptism we die with Christ that we might also be raised with him to new life. At the Easter Vigil we will welcome the newly baptized as we remember God’s unfailing promise in our baptism.
Preacher: Vicar Libby Baker-Mikesell
Readings: Ezekiel 37:1-14 Psalm 130
Romans 8:6-11 John 11:1-45
March 29: Midweek Worship
5:15PM Dinner provided by The Seekers and Exploring Faith Sunday School Classes
6:30PM “Unfailing Light” Worship
Speaker: Pastor Fritz Foltz
7 Reasons To Consider Becoming a Stephen Minister
Is God calling you to become a Stephen Minister?
In Stephen Ministry, members of our congregation are trained and equipped to meet once a week, one to one, with someone going through a difficult time. Stephen Ministers provide a caring presence, a listening ear, and comforting words—supporting care receivers throughout their journey.
There are many reasons people become Stephen Ministers. Here are a few to think about as you prayerfully consider whether Stephen Ministry is the right place for you to serve.
As a Stephen Minister, you will….
1) Make a real difference in the lives of people who are hurting.
Stephen Ministers walk alongside people going through life challenges like grief, divorce, a medical crisis, job loss, and more. They offer care, support, and encouragement, connecting hurting people with Christ’s healing love during some of the hardest times in their lives.
2) Help our congregation ensure that no one suffers alone.
Caring for one another is a hallmark of the Christian faith. As a Stephen Minister, you will play a crucial role in helping our congregation carry out that mission so that, even if we can’t take away their pain, those who are suffering know our church truly cares.
3) Learn what to say and do—and what not to say and do—to care effectively for people who are suffering.
Stephen Minister training teaches highly practical caregiving and relational skills that equip and empower you with everything you need to effectively care for others. In addition to preparing you for caring ministry, these skills can help you deepen and enhance relationships in all facets of your life—with family, friends, coworkers, and others.
4) Be involved in meaningful ministry that uses your spiritual gifts.
Serving as a Stephen Minister gives people an opportunity to put their spiritual gifts into action—gifts such as faith, mercy, compassion, and encouragement. Ministry that draws on your gifts is personally fulfilling and touches people’s lives in powerful ways.
5) Deepen your faith as you see God at work through your ministry.
Providing care while trusting in God is at the core of Stephen Ministry. Stephen Ministers regularly say how their faith deepens as they experience training, learn to use distinctively Christian caring tools, and witness God at work in the lives of their care receivers.
6) Be part of a group of caring Christians who support each other as they care for those who are hurting.
One of the blessings of being a Stephen Minister is being part of a community of people who care, all of whom lift one another up as they strive together to provide the best possible ministry. The strong relationships you’ll form are both rewarding and a great source of support.
7) Join a worldwide tradition of caring ministry.
Congregations all over the world use Stephen Ministry—and have trained hundreds of thousands of Stephen Ministers who have gone on to care for millions of hurting people. It’s this ongoing tradition of “Christ caring for people through people” that you’ll join as a Stephen Minister.
The Stephen Ministry logo signifies that we are all broken people and it is only through the cross of Jesus that we are made whole.
We will be having a training for new Stephen Ministers beginning in April with dates & times to be determined by the schedules of participants. If interested in learning more, please call Paula Shoemaker at 717 873-7894.
Council Highlights – February 15, 2023
En Bloc Agenda (Council will vote to approve these in one motion. Any council member may request to remove a motion from the bloc to have it separately discussed and considered)
· Approval of Minutes from January 18, 2023
· Acceptance of Treasurer’s Report
· Church Financials (see January giving stats below)
· ELC Financials
· Acceptance of New Members (there will be a New Members class in March 2023):
· Via affirmation of faith: none
· Via baptism: none
All en bloc items were approved.
· Church Growth Strategy (previously referred to as Human Capital Campaign)
· Consultant Update (March discussion):
Jim spoke with Glenn Ludwig from the seminary who recommended Pastor Nathan Swenson-Reinhold as a consultant for this strategy. Pr Swenson-Reinhold will submit a proposal to council for the March meeting.
· Review SMART Goals and progress: Worship attendance goal of 250 per weekend was obtained 2 of 5 weeks in January. As of February 14 there were 102 volunteers signed up to make fastnachts (goal is 110). Dates are on the calendar for the bluegrass worship/community meal. Youth Group will host a few “bring a friend” nights.
· Allocate Endowment Earnings (from June, October, December of 2022): $28,713.63. Using the historical splits that the council has in the past, it would be allocated as follows:
Mission $8,614.09; Youth $8,614.09; Building $7,178.41; Music $2,871.36; Good of the Church $1,435.68.
· Motion was made and seconded to approve the Endowment earnings allocations as has been followed in the past. Motion carried.
· Establish Nominating Committee for Council Elections:
· Terms end July 2023 for Jim Dunlop, Brent Smith, Carol Cook, Alan Haynes
· Jim and Brent will serve as the nomination committee
· Fundraising Request from Miracle Workers:
The Miracle Workers have requested council approval for a St. Patrick’s dance to be held at the Gettysburg Fire Hall on 3/18/2023. Plans for the evening includes selling admission tickets, DJ, food, raffle baskets for prizes. There was discussion on this request. The Miracle Workers plan to attend the March council meeting to provide more information and future plans.
A motion was made and seconded to allow the Miracle Workers to hold the event and to charge admission for the event as a fundraiser. Motion carried with 9 yes and 1 no.
· Church Growth Consultant Proposal
· Miracle Workers presentation
· Building Usage – target early 2023
· Building Safety
· Stewardship and Giving
· Other ideas
Good for Council – Good for Church – Good for God
A new members class will be held March 12 with the expectation that we will receive new members into the congregation in the coming months.
Wednesday, March 15, 2023 (following Lenten service)
Young at Heart: Keeping up with the kids
Flour. Milk. Potatoes. Sugar. Eggs. Shortening. Vanilla, Salt. Yeast. And a whole lot of love.
Those are the ingredients that went into the more than 1,600 Fastnachts prepared by our congregation, friends and families from Feb. 19-21.
Now, I won’t mind if I don’t smell oil cooking for another 350 days, and I don’t know if I’ll ever look at a potato the same way. But that bit about being made with love? That never gets old.
I was blown away by the overwhelming response from our church community, committing to a tradition we’d had to put on standby the previous two years. Often, we get in touch with our faith amid exhaustion. I felt truly blessed to watch so many people stroll through the doors, roll up their sleeves and get to work over a sugar box, a cutting board, a mixing bowl or a vat of hot oil – all to provide strong, faith-based programming for our kids.
I feel humbled to know fundraising for our programming is vital to our community. Hundreds made additional donations to our cause when purchasing. And judging by the reactions of our customers, our Fastnachts are essential as well. Many showed up praising us for returning to the job. Even more begged to purchase just one more box than they’d ordered. The old Smith family recipe still has its magic!
Speaking of the Smiths, this family deserves all the accolades for their commitment to see this thing through. Eric, Kyle and Brad were the first people I saw as I walked in the door Sunday and some of the last as I left the church Tuesday. The fundraiser simply wouldn’t exist without this clan and all of its extensions.
To every single volunteer, customer, supporter and donor, thank you for making this year’s Fastnacht sale one to remember!
Youth and Family Director
St. James Lutheran Church
Youth Events to look out for
March 26, 10:45 a.m. – WaterLife – In a youth-centered service, our kids will sing out loud and tell the story of Lazarus in a child-friendly way!
March 26, Times TBA – Middle and High school kids, join us at the 1863 Escape Room for a fun-filled problem-solving adventure. Let Adam know in advance.
February 5- Eddie Teeter
February 4- Milton D. “Babe” Moyer
Upcoming 50+ Wedding Anniversaries
March 31- Eugene and Nancy Riffle, 66 years
New Member’s Class- March 12
Following the 10:45AM worship service on Sunday March 12, St. James will be holding a New Members Class at the Youth House.
This is the perfect class for those looking to learn more about what it means to be Lutheran and the mission of St. James. We are anticipating another large class, and look forward to formally welcoming new
friends and faces into membership after Easter.
Please let Pastor Andrew know if you plan to attend the New Members Class or you can share your contact information by completing a form on our website using the following link:
VBS June 5-9
Get ready for an epic adventure at VBS! From June 5-9, we’ll be exploring the wonders of the Bible through exciting activities, games, and lessons.
We’re looking for fun-loving volunteers to lead our art, music, and snack stations!
Contact Adam to sign up and join the fun sharing God’s love with our youth.