Welcome to Saint Paul’s

In coming to our website, I realize you might have many questions. You might be excited about finding a church to belong to, or you might be a bit fearful from bad church experiences in the past. If you are looking for a church that focuses on creating spiritual fruits, not religious nuts, then you have come to the right place.

I hope the information on this website will help you feel more comfortable with visiting us in person and knowing more about who we are. Feel free to email me if you have any further questions that are not covered here.
 
Our Mission statement at St. Paul’s says a lot about who we are and what we do:

 

As a Christian family of faith,
Saint Paul’s affirms God’s love by
transforming lives,
connecting generations,
impacting our community & world,
and
making disciples for Jesus Christ.

 
Affirming God’s Love by
transforming lives:
Here at St. Paul’s we believe that we are supposed to transform peoples’ lives for the better because of our Christian faith. Whether it is feeding people who are hungry, giving hope to the hopeless, or voice to the voiceless, faith is not just for our own benefit, but is supposed to be for the whole world!
Matthew 25:31-46
 
Affirming God’s love by
connecting generations:
Here at St. Paul’s we believe that connecting generations is a key part of how we affirm God’s love. We believe in ministry that serves the needs of particular age groups but also connects generations together. This can be seen when our Children & Youth make and deliver gifts to our homebound members, and when our younger members are welcomed to be a part of our adult ministries. We believe that it does take a village to raise a child, and that we all benefit when we are all involved in age-related ministries.
Matthew 19:13-15, Mark 10:13-16, Luke 18:15-17
 
Affirming God’s love by
impacting our community & world:
Here at St. Paul’s we believe that our faith needs to have an impact in our community (through local ministries such as Interfaith Emergency Services and Open Arms Village) and our world (through projects such as our Pillowcase Dresses, Prayer Quilts, and Stop Hunger Now).
Matthew 5:13-16
 
Affirming God’s love by
making disciples for Jesus Christ:
Here at St. Paul’s we believe that the core mission of the church to which all our activities point is to make people into disciples (followers) of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 28:18-20
 
St. Paul’s Christian School shares its campus with us and many of the families in our church and school come from the surrounding neighborhood. In this quiet, picturesque corner of Ocala we are kind of like the neighborhood park – you’re likely to see families playing on our playground, couples taking a stroll around the campus, someone sitting for a prayer in our Memorial Garden, or our Scouts having a meeting at the fire pit. This image is really the vision we have for St. Paul’s: a place that offers God’s grace, love and comfort to the people around us.
 
Want to know more?  Come and see what we’re all about!
 
In Christ,
 
Robert

Robert’s Blog

Developing a Grateful Heart

 

Happy 23rd Sunday of Pentecost! 

Today we’re going to dive into an important spiritual discipline–being grateful.  It’s said that patience is a virtue, but so is gratefulness!  So today we’re going to take a look at Paul’s Letter to the church in Ephesus 5:15-21 to see how we can develop a grateful heart no matter what our outward circumstances are, no matter who wins the election, and no matter how conflicted the world is outside. 

 

Sunday’s Online ServiceIf you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through thYouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 11/8/20 Online Service.  The premiere page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend! 

Sunday’s In-Person Service – Ware relaunching our in-person indoor worship in the Sanctuary. The service will start at 9:00am. We are asking everyone to register at this link: cometoworship.org so that we don’t go over our maximum capacity. We ask everyone to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Temperatures will be taken before entering the building.  

Our Children’s ministries that include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub have relaunched their in-person meetings. They are currently meeting at 9am in the Fellowship Hall. Please join them for an interactive socially distanced fun time as they learn their lessons and play games together. 

Our regular Youth schedule is: Praise NG will be meeting from 3:00pm-4:00pm every Sunday and SPYouth will be meeting from 4:00pm-5:00pm every Sunday.  

 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please 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.  While office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible. 

 
 


Put In Our Place

 

Happy 22nd Sunday of Pentecost!

 

This Sunday is All Saints’ Day, when we remember the lives of the saints who have gone before us, and by extension we also remember our place in the great “cloud of witnesses” from Hebrews 12:1.  We’ll read from Revelation 7:9-17 on this holy day, and we’ll also remember all 10 of the saints who have passed on to glory from St. Paul’s.  We will have an All Saints Remembrance at both our 9am and 10:30 service.  For those attending online at 10:30am, we invite you to find a candle at home you can use to remember the Saint or Saints in your life who have helped you grow in Christ.  Instead of coming to the altar, we’ll have a time of silence when you can light your own remembrance candle.  May their faith inspire our lives!

 

Sunday’s Online Service—If you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through the YouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 11/1/20 Online Service.  The premiere page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend!

Sunday’s In-Person Service – We are relaunching our in-person indoor worship in the Sanctuary. The service will start at 9:00am. We are asking everyone to register at this link: cometoworship.org so that we don’t go over our maximum capacity. We ask everyone to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Temperatures will be taken before entering the building.

Our Children’s ministries that include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub have relaunched their in-person meetings. They are currently meeting at 9am in the Fellowship Hall. Please join them for an interactive socially distanced fun time as they learn their lessons and play games together.

Our regular Youth schedule is: Praise NG will be meeting from 3:00pm-4:00pm every Sunday and SPYouth will be meeting from 4:00pm-5:00pm every Sunday.

 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please 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.  While office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible.

 


Helping Things Go Right

 

Happy 21st Sunday of Pentecost!

As we worship this coming Sunday, we come to the final part in our study of The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict.  As we round this final corner, we’re going to look at how we do more than just learn about how to spot a heart at peace or a heart at war.  Today we look at how we can help things go right, rather than just avoid them going wrong.  This leads us to the tough question many of you have probably been wondering since I started: can you have a heart of peace when you’re at war?  In order to study that and look at how we can help things go right even amid a flaming conflict, we look at the story of David and King Saul, specifically in 1 Samuel 24:8-22.  Let’s open our hearts, our minds, and our Bibles as we worship and see how we can be peacemakers and people who help things to right, even in the midst of war.

Sunday’s Online Service—If you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through the YouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 10/25/20 Online Service.  The premier page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend!

Sunday’s In-Person Service – We are relaunching our in-person indoor worship in the Sanctuary. The service will start at 9:00am. We are asking everyone to register at this link: cometoworship.org so that we don’t go over our maximum capacity. We ask everyone to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Temperatures will be taken before entering the building.

Our Children’s ministries that include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub have relaunched their in-person meetings. They are currently meeting at 9am in the Fellowship Hall. Please join them for an interactive socially distanced fun time as they learn their lessons and play games together.

Our regular Youth schedule is: Praise NG will be meeting from 3:00pm-4:00pm every Sunday and SPYouth will be meeting from 4:00pm-5:00pm every Sunday. This week they won’t be meeting because we are all excited about Trunk or Treat from 5:00-7:00pm! Please come decorate a car and join in the fun!

 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please 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.  While office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible.

 


Someone Who Understands

 
 
 

Happy 20th Sunday of Pentecost!

We’re glad you’re here to worship with us as we continue to study the book The Anatomy of Peace and its connection with the message of Christ.  Today we’re going to focus on empathy, a virtue that is different from sympathy.  When we have sympathy, we feel for someone.  When we have empathy, we feel with someone.  We feel their pain, we understand their emotions, and we identify with them.  It’s easier for us to understand when we’ve been through a similar experience. The beautiful thing is, even if we haven’t been in someone’s situation, we can try to understand. We can look below the surface of words and actions to what’s really driving those words and actions. We can empathize. 

As we read from John 8:2-11 and Mark 6:30-34, we’ll look at instances of Jesus showing empathy.  Moving from a heart of war to a heart of peace first requires humility- admitting our brokenness, our wounds, the shards of sin in our heart. In humility, we admit our need for God’s help, healing, and forgiveness.  The next step is empathy. God’s healing and forgiveness give us eyes to see and hearts to understand.  Let’s open our hearts, our minds, and our Bibles as we look at empathy and learn how to be people of peace.

Sunday’s Online Service—If you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through the YouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 10/18/20 Online Service.  The premier page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend!

Sunday’s In-Person Service – We are relaunching our in-person indoor worship in the Sanctuary. The service will start at 9:00am. We are asking everyone to register at this link: cometoworship.org so that we don’t go over our maximum capacity. We ask everyone to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Temperatures will be taken before entering the building.

Our Children’s ministries that include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub have relaunched their in-person meetings. They are currently meeting at 9am in the Fellowship Hall. For this week only the iClub is cancelled. Please join them for an interactive socially distanced fun time as they learn their lessons and play games together.

Praise NG will be meeting from 3:00pm-4:00pm every Sunday and SPYouth will be meeting from 4:00pm-5:00pm every Sunday. We’re looking forward to getting back to a every week schedule while still allowing time for family dinners!

 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please 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.  While office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible.

 


Recognizing a Heart of War

 

Happy 19th Sunday of Pentecost!

Sunday’s sermon will be the second of our series on the book The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict.  This week, following part 2 of the book, we’re looking at the bad side of the penny.  A heart at war is, in many ways, just what it sounds like: an attitude that promotes, engages, and even revels in conflict.  However, there are nuances to it that are important.  We can have a heart at war from four major angles, or “boxes.”  These boxes include an attitude of Better-than, Worse-than, I deserve, and the need-to-be-seen-as box.  It’s not about fighting as much as it is about mindset, and when can be in this mindset even when we’re trying to do the right things!  So I invite you to continue to read the book with me as we engage with Part 2 and recognizing a heart of war.  We’ll be reflecting on the heart at war accompanied by readings from James 3:13-18 and Luke 18:9-14.  These scriptures give us key points of reference as we look at Jesus’s and James’s teachings on avoiding a heart at war.  See you on Sunday!

Sunday’s Online Service—If you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through the YouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 10/11/20 Online Service.  The premier page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend!

Sunday’s In-Person Service – We are relaunching our in-person indoor worship in the Sanctuary. The service will start at 9:00am. We are asking everyone to register at this link: cometoworship.org so that we don’t go over our maximum capacity. We ask everyone to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Temperatures will be taken before entering the building.

Our Children’s ministries that include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub have relaunched their in-person meetings. They are currently meeting at 9am in the Fellowship Hall. Please join them for an interactive socially distanced fun time as they learn their lessons and play games together.

Praise NG will be meeting from 3:00pm-4:00pm every Sunday and SPYouth will be meeting from 4:00pm-5:00pm every Sunday. We’re looking forward to getting back to a every week schedule while still allowing time for family dinners!

 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please 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.  While office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible.

 


Cultivating a Heart of Peace

 
 

Happy 18th Sunday of Pentecost!

You’ve probably noticed that 2020 been a banner year, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change its ways any time soon.  Like many of you during this time of chaos and disagreement, I’m always looking for a message of peace and hope, a message that preaches love and peace, justice and reconciliation, not anger and immature spitefulness.  One book that continues to help me not get discouraged is The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict.  If you recognize the name, I preached on it about two years ago, and I think the message is one we could all use a refresher on.  It reminds us that we often misunderstand the causes of our differences and disagreements then shows us how to find true peace within ourselves and our relationships with each other.

For the first week in our series, we’re reading Matthew 5:43-48, looking at cultivating a heart of peace.  Our behaviors either come from a heart of peace or a heart of war.  That’s what is underneath our behaviors, so when we react to others, we need to remember that.  It’s about what is going on under the surface, not the behaviors we see in others that are only the tip of the iceberg.  It’s also the same with us.  When we have a heart of war, our behaviors reflect that.  We aren’t living in love as Christ commands, we’re not loving for and praying for our enemies, and we’ve all been there.  We’ll look at how to cultivate a heart of peace as we open our hearts, our minds and our Bibles in worship!

 

Sunday’s Online Service—If you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through the YouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 10/4/20 Online Service.  The premier page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend!

Sunday’s In-Person Service – We are relaunching our in-person indoor worship in the Sanctuary. The service will start at 9:00am. We are asking people to register at this link: cometoworship.org so that we don’t go over our maximum. We ask everyone to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Temperatures will be taken before entering the building.

Our Children’s ministries that include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub have relaunched their in-person meetings. They are currently meeting at 9am in the Fellowship Hall. Please join them for an interactive socially distanced fun time as they learn their lessons and play games together.

Praise NG will be meeting from 3:00pm-4:00pm every Sunday and SPYouth will be meeting from 4:00pm-5:00pm every Sunday. We’re looking forward to getting back to a every week schedule while still allowing time for family dinners!

 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please 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.  While office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible.

 
 


Speaking Truth to Power

 
 
 

Happy 17th Sunday of Pentecost!

During worship today, we’re ending our series on the Acts of the Apostles.  We’ve been in and out of Acts of the Apostles all Summer, studying how the church began in it’s own time of crisis and change, and how innovation, not nostalgia, helped the early Christians to be open to God working in amazing ways.  Through these stories preserved for us in the Bible we can see how those early Christians endured their own time of upheaval and uncertainty, and how they still focused on their core mission so that they could spread the Good News of Christ.  Because the truth about times like this in our human history is that they force us to choose what is really important.  These times take us deeper into our core purpose and it force us to ask hard questions–questions we often avoid at all costs when we’re comfortable.

To learn and grow during the new “normal” of COVID-19, we’re going to have to use the creativity that God has given us, leaning on God more than ever.  Wishing this were all over is not going to help us meet the challenge before us.

We’ll read from Acts Chapter 26 today, close to the final chapters of this epic story of the early church.  We’ll look at Paul explaining himself – making his defense – in front of the Roman Governor Festus and the Jewish King Herod Agrippa.  In Paul’s speech is a great course in the basics of the Christian faith and the core mission we are given from God.  This story also tells us of two people who are confronted with deep questions of faith: one of them changes course because of it, listening and learning from God, and the other is “almost” convinced.  Let’s look inside ourselves to see whether we are willing to listen when God’s truth speaks to our power, or whether we are still just almost convinced. 

 

Sunday’s Online Service—If you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through the YouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 9/27/20 Online Service.  The premier page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend!

Sunday’s In-Person Service – At 8am we will worship in the church courtyard (between the Fellowship Hall and the Sanctuary).  We will have communion at every 8am service.  Worshipers are asked to bring their own chairs or picnic blankets, face coverings, hand sanitizer, and Communion Elements (bread & grape juice) to each service.    

Next week we will be relaunching our in-person indoor worship in the Sanctuary. The service will start at 9:00am. We are asking people to register at this link: cometoworship.org so that we don’t go over our maximum. We ask everyone to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. The Children’s ministries will be meeting at 9:00am starting next week too!

Our Children’s ministries that include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub have relaunched their in-person meetings. They are currently meeting at 8am in the Fellowship Hall. Please join them for an interactive socially distanced fun time as they learn their lessons and play games together.

Praise NG will be meeting this Sunday in the Sanctuary from 4:30-5:30pm. Starting next week, Praise NG will be meeting from 3:00pm-4:00pm every Sunday and SPYouth will be meeting from 4:00pm-5:00pm every Sunday. We’re looking forward to getting back to a every week schedule while still allowing time for family dinners!

 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please 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.  While office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible.



Who Can Rescue Me?

 
 

Happy 16th Sunday of Pentecost!

We re-join the story of the early church in Acts of the Apostles just after Paul and his traveling companions have reached the Macedonian city of Philippi.  Philippi was a Roman colony and the center of government, culture, and trade for Macedonia.  It was also close to an ancient center of pagan religion: the Oracle of Delphi.  So in addition to being the center of official business, Philippi was also a bustling center of tourism, as people came from near and far to have an Oracle tell their fortune at this ancient temple that was viewed by the ancient Greeks as the center of the universe.

After preaching Christ and beginning a Christian community with Lydia’s household, the Apostles begin to be harassed by the loud cry of a demon-possessed slave, a fortune-teller who follows them for days.  Somewhat ironically, she tells everyone around Philippi that Paul and Silas will tell people how to be saved.  Paul is so annoyed by this constant noise, even if it’s to their benefit, that he removes the demon from the slave girl, angering her owners who were making money hand over fist from her fortune-telling.  The slaveowners whip up the local people into a frenzy and have Paul and Silas thrown in prison, where they can be found singing hymns and praising God.  An earthquake splits open the prison walls and all the prisoners are released from their shackles.  

The jailer panics and plans to kill himself, but Paul and Silas bring him hope by talking about Jesus.  The jailer’s question rings true to our day – “who can rescue me?”  We’ve all felt a need to be rescued, and we all need a bigger reason to hope than just our personal success or pleasure.  We all find ourselves in some sort of prison if we’re not careful, and we all need a savior to rescue us from ourselves, or from the pressure of others.

The answer lies in faith, which theologian Paul Tillich defines as our “ultimate concern.”  We can have faith in many things, but only faith in Christ will rescue us and save us.  Jesus must be our ultimate concern, and if that is the case we will keep life in proper perspective.  We will believe in the promise of rescue, and live as a rescued person, not someone prone to fear and anger.  Let’s hear the story of a divine prison break with eternal consequences on Sunday from Acts 16:16-40.  We’ll also read a later writing of Paul to this same church in Philippi as we read from Philippians 1:12-20!

 

Sunday’s Online Service—If you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through the YouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 9/20/20 Online Service.  The premier page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend!

Sunday’s In-Person Service – At 8am we will worship in the church courtyard (between the Fellowship Hall and the Sanctuary).  We will have communion at every 8am service.  Worshipers are asked to bring their own chairs or picnic blankets, face coverings, hand sanitizer, and Communion Elements (bread & grape juice) to each service.    

Our Children’s ministries that include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub have relaunched their in-person meetings. They are currently meeting at 8am in the Fellowship Hall. Please join them for an interactive socially distanced fun time as they learn their lessons and play games together.

 

SPYouth will regularly meet every 1st and 3rd Sunday from 4:30-5:30pm in the Fellowship Hall. Praise NG will be meeting every 2nd and 4th Sunday in the Sanctuary from 4:30-5:30pm.

 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please 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.  While office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible.

 


Love is an Action

 

Happy 15th Sunday of Pentecost!

To his contemporaries, Jesus was a rabbi, a teacher of the law; such men were expected to spend their time interpreting the law. No wonder he frustrated the Pharisees so much, for instead of discussing the law, Jesus kept talking about love.

“Rabbi, is it okay to pull an ox out of the ditch on the Sabbath . . . or to pay taxes to Rome . . . and can we stone a woman caught in the act of adultery?” And each time, Jesus challenged them to quit focusing their mental microscopes on the letter of the Law, and to see the divine spirit of the Law. Jesus wants us to understand that you can keep the law in detail without loving, but you cannot love without being obedient to God’s law.

Jesus was motivated by love. It was the unifying principle of his earthly life. Jesus’s one commandment in John’s gospel is for the disciples to love one another as Jesus has loved them.  We’ll read that passage today in John 15:9-17.  And the message of John’s letter, as we’ll read from in 1 John 3:16-24 is that Christ’s followers must also choose love as a life principle if we are to walk in his steps. If we are to share his life, we must share his love.  How do we do that?  What’s the secret to this type of love?  On Sunday we’ll open our hearts, our minds, and our Bibles to find out!

Sunday’s Online Service—If you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through the YouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 9/13/20 Online Service.  The premier page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend!

Sunday’s In-Person Service – At 8am we will worship in the church courtyard (between the Fellowship Hall and the Sanctuary).  We will have communion at every 8am service.  Worshipers are asked to bring their own chairs or picnic blankets, face coverings, hand sanitizer, and Communion Elements (bread & grape juice) to each service.    

Our Children’s ministries that include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub have relaunched their in-person meetings. They are currently meeting at 8am in the Fellowship Hall. Please join them for an interactive socially distanced fun time as they learn their lessons and play games together.

SPYouth will regularly meet every 1st and 3rd Sunday from 4:30-5:30pm in the Fellowship Hall. Praise NG will be meeting every 2nd and 4th Sunday in the Sanctuary from 4:30-5:30pm.

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please 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.  While office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible.

 


Sabbath…”Now that I have Your Attention…”

 
 

Happy 14th Sunday of Pentecost!

 

 Even on this Labor Day, created to honor workers in 1894 by giving them a day of rest, many of us will be unable or unwilling to stop working.  Did I tell you the story about the guy who got caught picking up firewood in the Israelite camp? Before you do anything else, read Num. 15:32-36.  Go ahead…I’ll wait…

Now that I have your attention…let’s talk about Sabbath, one of the most ignored commandments in the Bible.

The passage from Numbers seems strange and ugly to our ears—the community really executed someone for picking up sticks on the sabbath?  The same God that loves us unconditionally told them to do it?  We can’t deny or explain away the harshness of God’s advice to stone the man, other than for it to remind us that God takes the Sabbath very seriously, and we should check ourselves too—do we take the Sabbath as a matter of life or death?  Do we plan ahead to take Sabbath time, or do we get caught unprepared and break Sabbath like the man gathering firewood?

Then there’s Jesus in the Gospels: Mark 2:23-28 does not express the same death-penalty seriousness.  Why is Jesus so relaxed about the Sabbath?  Well, in reacting to the Pharisees extreme Sabbath observance, he points to the fact that human need (not want) can and does take precedence over strict Sabbath observance.  If you’re starving, God understands.  Break the sabbath so you can eat.  If you need to work to save someone, God will understand.  Save that person and break the sabbath.  The sabbath has a deeper meaning behind just strict work stoppage.  Just look at the promises Isaiah points out in 58:13-14—if we keep the sabbath, we will find that life is so much richer!

Genesis 2:1-3 solemnizes the Sabbath as a part of the rhythm of creation, and Exodus 20:8-11 uses this logic when the fourth commandment is given.  In Deuteronomy’s 10 Commandments, the reason given is remembrance of the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt. Both are important.  Tending to the rhythm we were created to live is crucial, helping us remember that we were created for more than just toil.  After all, what is all that work for if not to add value to our lives?  So trust God that the world will not fall apart if you take a day of rest per week, and trust God that connection is more important than production and ambition.  Schedule time to play with your new puppy (or your old one), sit down and read a good book, put together a puzzle, call an old friend.  Take Sabbath, even if you have to work for it.  We’ll go through a lot of scripture during the sermon, but it will be worth it.  Just like Sabbath.

 

Sunday’s Online Service—If you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through the YouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 9/6/20 Online Service.  The premier page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend!

Sunday’s In-Person Service – At 8am we will worship in the church courtyard (between the Fellowship Hall and the Sanctuary).  We will have communion at every 8am service.  Worshipers are asked to bring their own chairs or picnic blankets, face coverings, hand sanitizer, and Communion Elements (bread & grape juice) to each service.    

Our Children’s ministries that include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub have relaunched their in-person meetings. They are currently meeting at 8am in the Fellowship Hall. Please join them for an interactive socially distanced fun time as they learn their lessons and play games together.

 

The Youth is meeting for a work night on September 6th from 3:30-5:30pm. They will be painting the youth room! Please come and bring a friend! SPYouth will regularly meet every 1st and 3rd Sunday from 4:30-5:30pm in the Fellowship Hall. Praise NG will be meeting every 2nd and 4th Sunday in the Sanctuary.

 

We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please 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.  While office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible.