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Are you ready to be miraculous?
I hope you didn’t wake up this morning thinking to yourself: “Self, I don’t think I’m going to do anything amazing today.” That’s stinkin’ thinking’!
You have gifts in your tool belt that are perfect for what ministry with Jesus is all about. In Luke 4 he told people why he came: “to bring good news to the poor, help the oppressed go free, proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Sounds daunting right? It’s not. Because you were given gifts to be able to do it.
Take a look at what someone else took the lead on at St. Paul’s this week by clicking HERE. Miraculous!! Closet into kitchen. Extra space into ministry area. Already, the Burrito Project crew used it last night and AA will be using it every week. Feeding the hungry, proclaiming release, giving sight!
You have the gifts to engage into this. You are blessed to be a blessing. You are filled to be emptied into the world. You are forgiven so that you can forgive.
Lord, help me see your miraculous power in and through me for your world. Amen
Be well, safe and blessed!
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I want to share with you some reflections from the Bishop of Upstate NY Synod, Pastor Lee Miller. He shares the text for this upcoming Sunday with some great thoughts on this familiar miracle story. Please take some time to pray through the questions he asks at the end and may this reminder of Jesus’ miraculous power be hope for you today. PS
2:1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
A common theme I hear is exhaustion. Pandemic exhaustion mixed with a good dose of anxiety. We’re tired. The world’s tired. All creation is tired.
“Coming back” is a challenge on so many levels. Waves of virus roll through interrupting what we might see as progress. Grief overwhelms. We don’t have what we thought we had before. We may feel like it’s all run out. Like we are empty.
And then Mary calls to Jesus and says to him, “They have no wine.”
While this may be our first encounter of public ministry with (adult) Jesus in John’s gospel, a mother certainly knows her son, and she knows darn well what she is asking of him when she states succinctly, “they have no wine.”
And Jesus, sounding like the adult-child of his mother that he is, snarks back, “Woman” (I wonder how that went over) “what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.”
Mary seems to ignore his response and moves on forward for she has seen God’s glory manifest before. God is glorified in the spaces and places where God shows up.
The stewards approach the six stone cold vessels. Like the empty spaces where we feel our cup has simply poured out; I heard a preacher say there are “six” vessels as humankind was created on the sixth day of creation. We are these empty vessels.
Jesus calls for the six empty stone-cold vessels to be filled, to the brim, with water. You know the story: as they draw from the water the steward discovers that it has become the finest wine.
When we are dry. When we are empty. God shows up for us again. God’s glory made manifest in water, wine, bread; signs that are in our daily life. God shows up for us again, becomes manifest, in the light we see in one another, for that light, our life, is from the Divine. God is glorified, shows up, becomes manifest, when we love our neighbors, for in so doing, we, as church together, are the body of Christ in the world today.
I pray you may find a space and place where your cup may be filled again to overflowing. I pray that even as the Holy pours refreshing waters into you, that same Spirit might draw from you gifts of grace and life that are utilized for the sake of the world. I pray that this same amazing love, might activate each of us, as the church together, to participate in God’s work of reconciliation and justice in the world, and to share in the Joy of Christ our savior.
Questions to pray through:
Where do you (the hearer) feel dry or empty?
What “fills your cup”?
Bishop Lee Miller
Be well, safe and blessed!
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I’m like a kid in a candy store….on Christmas Eve…waiting for Santa…with bells on (I don’t even know what this last phase means or why someone would have “bells on” but it’s always said by people who are excited about something so I included it). Snow is coming! Wahoo!
I love snow. I live in Buffalo. I expect it and want it during Biegner Winter. I don’t want it to be this cold without snow. Bills games in 39 degrees and rain are the worst. Running outside on ice is terrible. 6 inches of snow is always awesome and beautiful and fresh…until Bill the Dog goes outside and turns it yellow that is.
If you’re not living in the 716, you might not realize that we are scheduled to get a lake effect snow storm tonight. That means you could get somewhere in between 2 inches and 2 feet. And if the TV meteorologists, bless their hearts, tell you that they know exactly who will get exactly how much, they are lying and have absolutely no idea.
We haven’t had much snow at all this winter (36 days into Biegner Winter) so I’m super excited.
(Now Steve, there might be people reading this that actually hate snow. Be sensitive you dope!!)
I know there might be people reading this that actually don’t like snow. I get it. Shoveling. Driving. Whatevering outside becomes move challenging. I’m sorry if I was over the top. Be careful and stay inside and safe!
( Nice going pastor. Now you’re telling people not to come to church?! That’s the second time you’ve done that recently. How are you going to turn St. Paul’s into the Crystal Cathedral if everyone stays home?? And also, how will they stay connected to God??)
Please remember while you might be at home a bit more often in the super-amazing-beautiful-skiing allowing snow, you can still stay connected to God! Prayer still works in the snow. Bibles still open as books or as apps in the snow. TV Church still turns on in the snow. The YouTube has every worship service we’ve done at St. Paul’s during Covid and through WNY Church Unleashed in the snow. And don’t get me started on the Facebook…or Meta…or whatever it is. There’s good stuff there too in the snow.
(So wait, if it snows, we’re not instantly disconnected from God?)
In other words, if it snows, you are not disconnected from God. In fact as Paul said to the Roman Church, “nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus; no heights (of snow) nor depths (of snow); no (snow) angels or principalities (that don’t remove snow); not the snow that is present or the snow that is to come.”
(Wait, seriously, nothing?)
Enjoy the snow if you can. I will. But even more, enjoy God’s unbreakable connection and love for you!
Lord of the snowstorms, bring it to those who like it. And love both sides of the argument. Amen
Be well, safe and blessed!
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It is that time of the year – Children’s Christmas Pageant time!!
The picture with this email is not last year’s pageant. This is from two years ago. There was none last year due to Covid. And I missed it!! I love everything about it – the costumes, the music, the chaos, the stuff-that-goes-wrong-that-you-didn’t-see-coming, and of course the tears/laughter.
But most importantly, the story. The Story!
It’s the same story though right? Everyone gets ready – Jesus arrives – people tell the news – the world is changed. And I DON’T get tired of it. In fact, I crave it. I need it.
I need to be reminded of it day in and day out. The simple story of a complex love, grace, forgiveness and presence for us. Us?! Yes, Us!
As the days get darker, we’ll hear it again Sunday. We’ll sing again Sunday. We’ll laugh again Sunday. We’ll be reminded of the gift again Sunday.
But I also hope you’ll remember today – Emmanuel – God with you – today – now. This Light shines in the darkness and NOOOOOOO darkness will overcome it!
Welcome back to the greatest story ever told – for today. If you want to see a preview of the pageant CLICK HERE. This year’s full pageant has been recorded for the kid’s safety and will be shown as part of worship on Sunday. You’ll also be able to view the whole thing on our YouTube and Facebook pages.
Lord, thanks for the profound story being broken open by the kids. Amen,
Still in One Peace,
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Happy Biegner Winter!
But more importantly than that, Happy Chivetta’s Chicken Dinner Day. Well, that’s not actually a “real day” like the start of Biegner Winter, but they are set up on our front lawn cooking chicken. (Side note: this isn’t a fundraiser St. Paul’s is running, they just needed a site because the church across the street cancelled on them. HOWEVER, they are still kicking $.75 from every meal they sell to the Discretionary Fund to help out families around the holidays. So spread the word and grab some grub!)
I love Chivettas mainly because of the smell. You can be driving down the road anywhere in WNY with your windows down and if you smell that particular smell, you know Chivettas is cooking somewhere nearby. The smell points you right to the savory meal!
What smell do you give off? And what does it point to?
Well, maybe there’s a better way to phrase that.
John the Baptist was a pointer. To Jesus! And he probably did actually smell because he moved his road show out into the wilderness to yell, scream, preach and proclaim that God was about to do something awesome that God had been talking about for a long time. And if you were driving by with your windows down, you knew what he was pointing to right away! Jesus.
When people drive by you and me with their windows down, what will they smell? What will it point to?
In this season of Advent, we await the coming of Christ again. We celebrate the first time he arrived and now we “await.” While we’re waiting, who are we pointing to with our words, deeds and actions? When we preach to the world around us, to our friends and family in relationship, what do people hear/see us saying/doing? Are the ways that we live out the grace-filled compassion and redemption that we have received pointing toward God’s love for the world?
When I smell Chivettas, I know it right away. When people smell me, will it be that clear?
John’s a great reminder to us to make the path a little straighter, the voice a little louder and the actions a little clearer. So that as loved children of God, we can clearly point to Jesus.
Lord, help me to prepare your way and point clearly to you. Amen,
Still in One Peace,
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Blessings. Left. Right. And Center.
“Every time I think of you, I thank my God,” the apostle Paul wrote to one of his churches. Every time.
Now Paul’s life wasn’t easy, wasn’t drama-free, wasn’t void of tough times. Heck, he wrote some of his letters from prison!
And our lives aren’t either. They are filled with challenges, with pot holes, with grief, with transitions, with health concerns and more. But it DOES NOT mean that the blessings go away. It only means that it MORE important to search for them, find them, name them, celebrate them and share them.
Tomorrow will be an easy day to do that. Hopefully you will be around a table with friends or family. Notice the food. Notice the warmth. Notice the quiet if you need that. Notice, even in the chairs that are now empty, the stories that you created together. Notice it all….and hopefully notice a Bills win too!
But that’s tomorrow. What about today? “No day like today” they sing out in the musical Rent. How can you channel Paul’s vision and see more of the blessings around you? How can you name them and count them and let them help you overpower the challenges…even for a moment? How can you share them with those that are struggling to see theirs?
No day like today friends! May God’s blessings pour over you, and may they be super easy to see!