What’s In A Name?

Happy Second Sunday after Epiphany!  

Prospective parents spend countless hours every year trying to decide on just the right name for an expected child. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” doesn’t ring true. We want just the right moniker for our progeny. Why? What’s so important about a name anyway?  

This Sunday we read from the prophet Isaiah, Chapter 62:1-5.  It’s a passage full of illustrations that Isaiah makes to help his congregation appreciate the good things God has for those who remain faithful in the face of adversity.  The central illustrations in this passage involve names that Israel will be called at the fulfillment of God’s promise, evoking images of peace, partnership, prosperity, and goodness.  So, what’s your name to God, and what does it mean?  How has God changed your name through salvation and his promise of partnership with you?  It’s not just an imagination exercise, it’s a way to tell our stories to those who don’t know God.  We’ll talk about living our faith and our faith-names as we read from Isaiah and reflect on some important named figures in the faith – namely Martin Luther King, Jr.. 

Sunday’s Livestream Service at 10:30—We recommend logging into your Facebook account a few minutes before 10:30 am so you can troubleshoot any issues you might have. You can access the service at stpaulsworship.org You can chat once the Livestream service has started. If you don’t have a Facebook account you can also access the Livestream at stpaulsworship.org without the chat feature. A pop-up will ask you to log in and in small letters at the bottom you can click “Not Now” and still be able to watch the service. The service will be available on YouTube either Sunday afternoon or Monday. 

Sunday’s In-Person Service at 10:30 –Our in-person, indoor worship is currently in the Sanctuary, starting at 10:30am.  Please go to our website to get the latest COVID-19 Update. There will be space for those who still wish to social distance and mask, and masks are no longer required at worship for those who are vaccinated. 

 

Our regular Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 10:15 am in the Fellowship Hall.  

Our regular Youth schedule most weeks is: Praise New Generation meeting from 4:00 pm-5:00 pm every Sunday and SPYouth meeting from 5:00 pm-6:30 pm every Sunday. You can always check the calendar at childrenandyouthcalendar.org for updated info. 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us. You may contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help. We will get back to you as soon as possible. 



Baptized to What?

Happy Baptism of the Lord and Epiphany Sunday!  

That’s right, this week we have a two-fer!  Epiphany Day was Thursday, January 6th, and so it’s customary to celebrate it on the closest Sunday, but since January 6th doesn’t fall on a Sunday, we’re also celebrating Jesus’s baptism, which is supposed to be celebrated the first Sunday after the Epiphany.  Who made up this complicated system?  I blame Pope Gregory, personally.  Yes, we could always break from tradition, but the two things actually go together quite nicely, because they’re both Epiphanies – appearances of God on the scene and surprising everyone.  Epiphanies are eureka moments, and both the visit of the Magi and the Baptism of Jesus represent God showing up in big ways.  I’d also present to you that the same happens in our baptisms.  They are also Epiphanies, moments when God manifests personally to us in often surprising ways.   

We think of our baptisms as being for or with, but do we think about what we are baptized to?  Baptism represents the beginning of a journey of sacrificial servanthood that culminates when one passes into full fellowship with Christ in the great beyond. 

Christ lived out his baptism every day as he taught us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the dying, and share the good news with a broken world. As a people who bear the name of Christian, God calls us to live out our baptisms in the same way, caring for the needy and sharing the good news. We too are baptized to a mission of welcoming and redeeming sinners.  Let’s not be baptized with the same fire and mission Jesus had and be about his work in the world. 

Sunday’s Livestream Service at 10:30—We recommend logging into your Facebook account a few minutes before 10:30 am so you can troubleshoot any issues you might have. You can access the service at stpaulsworship.org You can chat once the Livestream service has started. If you don’t have a Facebook account you can also access the Livestream at stpaulsworship.org without the chat feature. A pop-up will ask you to log in and in small letters at the bottom you can click “Not Now” and still be able to watch the service. The service will be available on YouTube either Sunday afternoon or Monday. 

Sunday’s In-Person Service at 10:30 –Our in-person, indoor worship is currently in the Sanctuary, starting at 10:30am.  Please go to our website to get the latest COVID-19 Update. There will be space for those who still wish to social distance and mask, and masks are no longer required at worship for those who are vaccinated. 

 

Our regular Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 10:15 am in the Fellowship Hall.  

Our regular Youth schedule most weeks is: Praise New Generation meeting from 4:00 pm-5:00 pm every Sunday and SPYouth meeting from 5:00 pm-6:30 pm every Sunday. You can always check the calendar at childrenandyouthcalendar.org for updated info. 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us. You may contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help. We will get back to you as soon as possible. 



Gold, Circumstance, and Mud

Happy Second Sunday of Christmas!  

On Sunday we’ll hear from Rev. Bob Wannall, retired former pastor at St. Paul’s.  He’ll be preaching from Matthew 2:1-2 and doing a little thinking about Epiphany, which occurs on January 6th.  He’ll also be leading us in a celebration of Holy Communion, so be prepared to meet at the table of Christ! 

 

Sunday’s Livestream Service at 10:30—We recommend logging into your Facebook account a few minutes before 10:30 am so you can troubleshoot any issues you might have. You can access the service at stpaulsworship.org You can chat once the Livestream service has started. If you don’t have a Facebook account you can also access the Livestream at stpaulsworship.org without the chat feature. A pop-up will ask you to log in and in small letters at the bottom you can click “Not Now” and still be able to watch the service. The service will be available on YouTube either Sunday afternoon or Monday. 

Sunday’s In-Person Service at 10:30 –Our in-person, indoor worship is currently in the Sanctuary, starting at 10:30am.  Please go to our website to get the latest COVID-19 Update. There will be space for those who still wish to social distance and mask, and masks are no longer required at worship for those who are vaccinated. 

 

Our regular Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 10:15 am in the Fellowship Hall.  

Our Youth programs will be taking a break for the holidays. Their next scheduled meeting is Sunday, January 9. Our regular Youth schedule most weeks is: Praise New Generation meeting from 4:00 pm-5:00 pm every Sunday and SPYouth meeting from 5:00 pm-6:30 pm every Sunday. You can always check the calendar at childrenandyouthcalendar.org for updated info. 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us. You may contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help. We will get back to you as soon as possible. 



Twelve Days of Christmas

Merry Christmas Sunday!  

This Sunday, while Heather and I are spending time with family, worship will be led by Pam Michell, our Lay Leader and Church Council Chair, as well as Deborah Pritts, our accompanist and a retired minister from New York.  They’ll be leading some good Christmas carols and a meditation on the twelve days of Christmas you’ll be inspired by! 

Sunday’s Livestream Service at 10:30—We recommend logging into your Facebook account a few minutes before 10:30 am so you can troubleshoot any issues you might have. You can access the service at stpaulsworship.org You can chat once the Livestream service has started. If you don’t have a Facebook account you can also access the Livestream at stpaulsworship.org without the chat feature. A pop-up will ask you to log in and in small letters at the bottom you can click “Not Now” and still be able to watch the service. The service will be available on YouTube either Sunday afternoon or Monday. 

Sunday’s In-Person Service at 10:30 –Our in-person, indoor worship is currently in the Sanctuary, starting at 10:30am.  Please go to our website to get the latest COVID-19 Update. There will be space for those who still wish to social distance and mask, and masks are no longer required at worship for those who are vaccinated. 

 

Our regular Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 10:15 am in the Fellowship Hall.  Check the schedule and come in your pajamas!  

Praise New Generation will be taking some time off from practice. Look for their next practice in January. Our regular Youth schedule most weeks is: Praise New Generation meeting from 4:00 pm-5:00 pm every Sunday and SPYouth meeting from 5:00 pm-6:30 pm every Sunday. You can always check the calendar at childrenandyouthcalendar.org for updated info. 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us. You may contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help. We will get back to you as soon as possible. 



The Wonder of a Manger

Happy Fourth Sunday of Advent!  

Our understandings of power and significance are not too far removed from those living in the first century. When we think of kings, we think of gold, jewels, crowns, and pomp and circumstance. We equate significance with possessions and power. On Sunday, however, we’re presented with a much different picture of a king in Luke 2:1-16.  God’s humble entrance into the world as a helpless baby lying in a feeding trough challenges our worldview and communicates that all—regardless of power or position—have equal access to God.  What child is this?  What king is this? 

Everything about the Nativity scene is humble and lowly. No one there deserved to be in the presence of the divine, but God intentionally chose humble beginnings to show us the extent God is willing to go to save us all.  God stripped off heavenly glory and power and became one of us. God became human, took on the human condition, and embodied Love for us. Jesus showed us how to be truly human by loving others, serving others, redeeming others, and bringing reconciliation. Because of the nature of his entrance into the world, Jesus is accessible to all, and that is the true wonder of the manger. 

 

Sunday’s Livestream Service at 10:30—We recommend logging into your Facebook account a few minutes before 10:30 am so you can troubleshoot any issues you might have. You can access the service at stpaulsworship.org You can chat once the Livestream service has started. If you don’t have a Facebook account you can also access the Livestream at stpaulsworship.org without the chat feature. A pop-up will ask you to log in and in small letters at the bottom you can click “Not Now” and still be able to watch the service. The service will be available on YouTube either Sunday afternoon or Monday. 

Sunday’s In-Person Service at 10:30 –Our in-person, indoor worship is currently in the Sanctuary, starting at 10:30am.  Please go to our website to get the latest COVID-19 Update. There will be space for those who still wish to social distance and mask, and masks are no longer required at worship for those who are vaccinated. 

 

Our regular Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 10:15 am in the Fellowship Hall.  

Praise New Generation will be taking some time off from practice. Look for their next practice in January. Our regular Youth schedule most weeks is: Praise New Generation meeting from 4:00 pm-5:00 pm every Sunday and SPYouth meeting from 5:00 pm-6:30 pm every Sunday. You can always check the calendar at childrenandyouthcalendar.org for updated info. 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us. You may contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help. We will get back to you as soon as possible. 



The Wonder of a Name

Happy Third Sunday of Advent!  

What’s in a name?  Shakespeare asked it, and Johnny Cash sang about it in his song A Boy Named Sue.  When the angel appears to Mary in Luke 1:26-33, the angel tells her exactly what’s in Jesus’s name: salvation.  God is fulfilling the promise made to David by sending Jesus to establish the kingdom of God. Mary would have at least heard of the promises God made to David, and Luke uses similar language in the Annunciation in order for the audience to recall 2 Samuel 7. The coming of David’s offspring means restoration, the end of oppression, and rest from evil. Mary sings for joy about Jesus’ fulfillment of this promise in her well-known song, the Magnificat, found in Luke 1:46-55. 

Although today a person’s name is not necessarily directly linked to his or her persona or identity, names are still important. Sometimes parents pass down family names or names reminiscent of their heritage. Other times parents attempt to choose a unique name—one that no other child may have. Many parents use a name to attempt to set their child apart.  Identity in Christ – sharing in his name – is more powerful and important than any other identity you may embody. Jesus’ name brings freedom and salvation in a way that no other name can.  So, besides your birth name given by your parents, do you also share the name of Jesus as your identity?  Names are significant, and Jesus’ name tells us just who he is to us: our salvation. 

 

Sunday’s Livestream Service at 10:30—We recommend logging into your Facebook account a few minutes before 10:30 am so you can troubleshoot any issues you might have. You can access the service at stpaulsworship.org You can chat once the Livestream service has started. If you don’t have a Facebook account you can also access the Livestream at stpaulsworship.org without the chat feature. A pop-up will ask you to log in and in small letters at the bottom you can click “Not Now” and still be able to watch the service. The service will be available on YouTube either Sunday afternoon or Monday. 

Sunday’s In-Person Service at 10:30 –Our in-person, indoor worship is currently in the Sanctuary, starting at 10:30am.  Please go to our website to get the latest COVID-19 Update. There will be space for those who still wish to social distance and mask, and masks are no longer required at worship for those who are vaccinated. 

 

Our regular Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 10:15 am in the Fellowship Hall.  

Praise New Generation will be taking some time off from practice. Look for their next practice in January. Our regular Youth schedule most weeks is: Praise New Generation meeting from 4:00 pm-5:00 pm every Sunday and SPYouth meeting from 5:00 pm-6:30 pm every Sunday. You can always check the calendar at childrenandyouthcalendar.org for updated info. 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us. You may contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help. We will get back to you as soon as possible. 



The Wonder of a Star

Happy Second Sunday of Advent!  

This second Sunday of Advent we will start an exciting new Advent worship series, The Wonder of Christmas. We’ll explore four elements of the Christmas story that teach us about the wonder of God’s great love for us: a star, a name, a manger, a promise. As we look to these wonder-filled aspects of the Christmas story, we will rediscover that the true wonder of Christmas is found in the love of Christ and made real in our hearts when we share that love with others.   

This week, we’ll look at The Wonder of a Star as we read from Matthew 2:1-12.  For the magi, the star was a sign, and our own lives are full of signs today—signs that point to God. What in your life is pointing you to God? What are your signs? Will you be like Herod, who closed his eyes, recoiled from the signs, and remained too proud to get off his throne? Or will you be like the magi, who had the eyes to see, the courage to follow, and the humility to worship? 

Join us this Advent as we embrace and celebrate the true wonder of Christmas, believing that because of God’s great love and light in Jesus Christ, anything is possible!   

 

Sunday’s Livestream Service at 10:30—We recommend logging into your Facebook account a few minutes before 10:30 am so you can troubleshoot any issues you might have. You can access the service at stpaulsworship.org You can chat once the Livestream service has started. If you don’t have a Facebook account you can also access the Livestream at stpaulsworship.org without the chat feature. A pop-up will ask you to log in and in small letters at the bottom you can click “Not Now” and still be able to watch the service. The service will be available on YouTube either Sunday afternoon or Monday. 

Sunday’s In-Person Service at 10:30 –Our in-person, indoor worship is currently in the Sanctuary, starting at 10:30am.  Please go to our website to get the latest COVID-19 Update. There will be space for those who still wish to social distance and mask, and masks are no longer required at worship for those who are vaccinated. 

 

Our regular Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 10:15 am in the Fellowship Hall.  

Our regular Youth schedule most weeks is: Praise New Generation meeting from 4:00 pm-5:00 pm every Sunday and SPYouth meeting from 5:00 pm-6:30 pm every Sunday. You can always check the calendar at childrenandyouthcalendar.org for updated info. 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us. You may contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help. We will get back to you as soon as possible. 



It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

Happy First Sunday of Advent!  

Today marks the beginning of a new season, and a new Christian Year as we celebrate the Season of Advent.  This is a time for us to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Messiah.  Advent means “Coming.”  We celebrate these days of Advent in expectation and preparation for Christ’s arrival, an arrival that is truly Good News to the whole world. 

In this hectic season it’s easy for us to lose sight of the real meaning, the real purpose, the real reason for our celebrations.  This season too easily becomes a headless-chicken rush from one event to the next, one tradition to the next, one obligation to the next.  It’s up to us as Christians to be diligent and intentional as we celebrate that we never lose sight of what’s really important, AND that we never let those “really important things” stand in the way of the joy and wonder of this very special time of year.  The message of the Christ-child was in his actions; he taught and lived a life of humility and sacrifice, his material present to his disciples was a humble meal of bread and grape juice.   

Through the centuries, Christians have been called to observe a time of waiting and expectation before celebrating the birth of the Savior at Christmas.  The Advent Season is a time for reflection and preparation, but its mood is joyful.  Advent proclaims the revelation of God’s love as expressed in Christ’s birth in a humble stable, His sacrificial death on the cross, and His victorious resurrection.  It points to the hope of Christ’s coming again as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Advent makes innkeepers out of all of us, asking us to make room for the arrival of Christ the King.  

On Sunday the 28th we will prepare our church sanctuary for the Advent and Christmas celebrations to come.  We enjoy the beauty of Christmas—the music and candles, the greenery and flowers, the symbols of the manger and the star.  But these are not merely decorations, after all.  As we hang the traditional decorations, we will remind ourselves of their meaning, so that as we move through the season they can be a constant reminder of what this Holy Season is about.  I know many of these things are traditional, and might be almost rote to most of us, but I would like to invite you to see them anew, to truly look beyond the familiar at the wonder of Christmas.  This is truly a time of year filled with wonder, if we will only see it.  It is a season filled with the Word of God’s wonderful love, sent in the familiar warmth of a child’s embrace.  The message behind each of these decorations is wonderful, and they add up to a story filled with wonder.   

We hope that as you participate in preparing this building for Advent, you will also prepare your own home and heart this season.  So ahead and decorate your house with us if you’re joining online!  Let us open our eyes to the wonder, the beautiful light of Advent and Christmas as we worship the coming King, who is Christ the Lord! 

 

Sunday’s Livestream Service at 10:30—We recommend logging into your Facebook account a few minutes before 10:30 am so you can troubleshoot any issues you might have. You can access the service at stpaulsworship.org You can chat once the Livestream service has started. If you don’t have a Facebook account you can also access the Livestream at stpaulsworship.org without the chat feature. A pop-up will ask you to log in and in small letters at the bottom you can click “Not Now” and still be able to watch the service. The service will be available on YouTube either Sunday afternoon or Monday. 

Sunday’s In-Person Service at 10:30 –Our in-person, indoor worship is currently in the Sanctuary, starting at 10:30am.  Please go to our website to get the latest COVID-19 Update. There will be space for those who still wish to social distance and mask, and masks are no longer required at worship for those who are vaccinated. 

 

Our regular Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 10:15 am in the Fellowship Hall.  

Praise New Generation and SPYouth will not be meeting this week, Sunday, November 28. Enjoy the holiday celebrations with your families! Our regular Youth schedule most weeks is: Praise New Generation meeting from 4:00 pm-5:00 pm every Sunday and SPYouth meeting from 5:00 pm-6:30 pm every Sunday. You can always check the calendar at childrenandyouthcalendar.org for updated info. 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us. You may contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help. We will get back to you as soon as possible. 



Thanksgiving Sunday

Happy Christ the King Sunday!  

Worship on Sunday, November 21st will be much different.  Instead of staying here in our sanctuary to worship, we’ll be taking worship outside the building to gather a harvest for Interfaith Emergency Services food pantry.  For those who wish to stay, we’ll be having a hymnsing while everyone else is out shopping.  If you’re attending online, collect food for your local food pantry and post a video or picture of your harvest collection to the Livestream comments or our Facebook page.  While you’re online, enjoy singing with the in-person congregation as we lift our voices in praise!  As people some back from shopping, we’ll watch the harvest grow and see the good that God is doing in our world, all the while singing praises!  After worship, the in-person folks are invited to stay and help us load the Interfaith Van that will be waiting outside.   

Sunday’s Livestream Service at 10:30—We recommend logging into your Facebook account a few minutes before 10:30 am so you can troubleshoot any issues you might have. You can access the service at stpaulsworship.org You can chat once the Livestream service has started. If you don’t have a Facebook account you can also access the Livestream at stpaulsworship.org without the chat feature. A pop-up will ask you to log in and in small letters at the bottom you can click “Not Now” and still be able to watch the service. The service will be available on YouTube either Sunday afternoon or Monday. 

Sunday’s In-Person Service at 10:30 –Our in-person, indoor worship is currently in the Sanctuary, starting at 10:30am.  Please go to our website to get the latest COVID-19 Update. There will be space for those who still wish to social distance and mask, and masks are no longer required at worship for those who are vaccinated. 

Our regular Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 10:15 am in the Fellowship Hall.  

Praise New Generation will not be practicing this week, Sunday, November 21, but will instead help with getting ready for Hanging of the Greens from 4-7. Meet at the church and let’s have some holiday fun!  Our regular Youth schedule most weeks is: Praise New Generation meeting from 4:00 pm-5:00 pm every Sunday and SPYouth meeting from 5:00 pm-6:30 pm every Sunday. You can always check the calendar at childrenandyouthcalendar.org for updated info. 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us. You may contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help. We will get back to you as soon as possible. 



Lose the Luggage

Happy Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost!  

If you go back and read the title to this blog, you’ll see we’re still in the season of Pentecost.  It’s hard to remember that 25 weeks ago, we were learning about that earth-shattering and transformative event where the Holy Spirit came to the huddled disciples and gave them the ability to leap cultural and linguistic barriers as well as speak boldly in the name of Jesus.  While Advent, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter all follow the ministry and life of Jesus, Pentecost is about the mission of Jesus in the lives of his followers.  It’s the church’s season, and it takes us long past the high points of those holidays into the doldrums of everyday life.  Can we still be a Christian even when it’s not exciting any more? 

This Sunday we’ll study Colossians 3:1-15 and Rev. Bob Wannall, former pastor here at St. Paul’s, will be our guest preacher.  He’ll invite us to “Lose the Luggage” and journey with Jesus for a lifetime! 

 

Sunday’s Livestream Service at 10:30—We recommend logging into your Facebook account a few minutes before 10:30 am so you can troubleshoot any issues you might have. You can access the service at stpaulsworship.org You can chat once the Livestream service has started. If you don’t have a Facebook account you can also access the Livestream at stpaulsworship.org without the chat feature. A pop-up will ask you to log in and in small letters at the bottom you can click “Not Now” and still be able to watch the service. The service will be available on YouTube either Sunday afternoon or Monday. 

Sunday’s In-Person Service at 10:30 –Our in-person, indoor worship is currently in the Sanctuary, starting at 10:30am.  Please go to our website to get the latest COVID-19 Update. There will be space for those who still wish to social distance and mask, and masks are no longer required for worship for those who are vaccinated. 

 

Our regular Children’s ministries include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub.  They are currently meeting at 10:15 am in the Fellowship Hall.  

Praise New Generation will not be practicing this week, Sunday, November 14. Our regular Youth schedule is: Praise New Generation meeting from 4:00 pm-5:00 pm every Sunday and SPYouth meeting from 5:00 pm-6:30 pm every Sunday. You can always check the calendar at childrenandyouthcalendar.org for updated info. 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us. You may contact the church office by email at info@spocala.org or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help. We will get back to you as soon as possible.