Welcome to Saint Paul’s!

St. Paul’s is a different kind of church.  We’re not a large megachurch with a sound stage and a suped-up production machine, but we strive to be a church full of authentic followers of Jesus.  No matter how you come to visit us, we pray you’ll find clear examples of God’s love, whether through us or through our ministries – but hopefully both!

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. Either way, 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 get to know us, whether you’re an online or in-person visitor. 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.

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.



The Verdict

Happy 13th Sunday of Pentecost!

As a pastor, I find there are generally three types of people: those who accept their faith passively and do not give much of it a second thought, there are those who study and learn the faith, but never grow beyond a certain point or perspective, and then there are those who are constantly growing and learning.  The third type of people may change their convictions over time, but they do so with deep reservoirs of thought and study.  They can talk to others who disagree and listen to their convictions without becoming argumentative.  They can take and apply Bible stories and verses and appreciate them from different angles.  They do not just read one side of a theological argument but try to see where everyone is coming from.  In the early church, James, the brother of Jesus and the understood leader of early Christianity, was just such a person.

On Sunday, we continue our walk through the Acts of the Apostles, backtracking a chapter to what happened before Paul met Timothy in Lystra.  Paul and Barnabas were arriving in Jerusalem to meet with the church leaders after some evangelists had arrived in Antioch and upset the believers there.  Antioch had a church community that was both Jew and Gentile, and this blended cultural environment had been successful until these folks showed up and told them that the Gentile Christians had to become Jewish before they could become Christian.  So in Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabus seek to finally put the issue to rest among the Christian church, so it could continue its expansion. 

While this may not seem like a big deal to us today, this was a huge decision to make as the early church was making up the limits and boundaries of Christianity in those early days.  After all, the 12 Disciples had all been Jewish, Jesus had been Jewish, raised in a Jewish family among a Jewish community in Nazareth.  On Sunday, our goal will not be to talk more about Gentile inclusion – we’ve already done that – but to look at how we can, like James and the Jerusalem Council, think theologically through life.  We’ll be talking about a four-fold way of thinking that is very near and dear to people who look to John Wesley and his example of faith.  Ever heard of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral?  We’ll talk about it today as we worship and meditate on God’s grace and James’s response to it in Romans 3:21-26 and Acts 15:1-2, 7-20.

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: 8/30/20 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 fun night on August 30th from 4:30-5:30pm. So many games and outdoor activities are planned! 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.