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.

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.