This Week at St. James:
September 13th thru September 19th (Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost)
PLEASE NOTE: Our Sunday Worship schedule (COVID-19 Guidelines):
OUR MISSION STATEMENT
“Called by God, centered in the Word and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we rejoice in the Lord,
OUR STAFF AT ST. JAMES
Pastor . ……………………...... Cell 803-607-5956 .……………….. Rev. Keith Getz
Welcome Visitors: If you’ve been baptized and wish to receive Holy Communion, you may come forward and participate. Those unable to come to the altar will commune in the pews first. If you are a first time visitor, please take home a welcome coffee mug located in the back of the Sanctuary. We thank you for worshipping with us today and hope you will come again. Small children are welcome in the worship. Busy Bags are available in the Narthex and scribble pads are in the back of the church. If your children become restless, we have a nursery available where they will be cared for with love. An usher would be happy to direct you.
Amplified Hearing Assistance System—We now have Hearing/Hearing Aid amplification devices (using wireless telecoil technology) available for those that are hearing impaired that can pair to compatible hearing aids or using a free loaner headset. Please speak to one of the Ushers. They will assist you obtaining a compatible loaner kit.
Today’s Music: Opening Voluntary—Prelude on “Newbury” by Healey Willan Aria and Rigaudon by Gordon Young; Closing Voluntary—Flourish by Douglas Wagner
Altar Flowers are given to the Glory of God and in Honor of Valerie Johnson, Administrative Assistant, for her dedication to St. James Lutheran Church during these challenging times by Betty and Susan Caulkins.
Remember in your Prayers for healing and other: Jeanne Bessel, Cubby Fowler (evacuation in California), Tom Lovett, Norman McLeod (Alex’s brother), JoAnn Nagy (Friend of the Getz Family), Dee Osborne, Perry Register, Ann Reynolds, Stan Salter, Turner Family and Shirley Viens.
COVID-19 Comments From Your Council & Pastor
We have resumed in-person worship with two services at 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Each Service will be approximately 35 minutes long. At this time, there will be no Holy Communion.
Be sure to call Susan Caulkins at 803-773-1040 to register seating for July 26th (9:00 or 11:00 a.m. service).
Offering for Sunday, September 13th - $4,421.50 August Total - $8,444.50
2019 Average Attendance
2019 Special Services
Announcements: Reminder - Please remember to coordinate with the Church Office prior to scheduling events so that Valerie may reserve the date and include your event on the Church Calendar.
IMPORTANT: There is now a mail slot in the office door (on the breezeway) across from the library. Please feel free to drop off your tithes, notes, and etc.
NO BIBLE STUDY UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
The church office has returned to regular hours (Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.).
Bob Bessel has been selected to continue in Arletta Price’s Council seat for 2020. We appreciate his willingness to serve. Arletta’s guidance on Council has been invaluable.
Weekly Bulletin & News: Please contact the church office (phone or email) with any announcements or prayer list additions.
Bible Study: Due to these challenging times, we have to look at doing things different than we have done before. That being said, I am looking at different ways to do Bible Study. Please give this some thought and contact our office (email or phone) as to whether you would be interested in participating in Bible Study face to face with social distancing and masks, or online, or a combination of both.
“Baby Lives Matter”
Please join, and encourage others to join fellow citizens in a peaceful, prayerful, public expression of support for life, specifically life of the preborn. Sumter County Citizens for Life is sponsoring the Sumter “Life Chain” Sunday, October 4th and Sunday, November 1 from 2:30 - 3:30 P.M. to draw attention to the crisis of abortion in our country and to promote positive alternatives and recovery. Please let me know if you can join us so I can give you some important guidelines for appropriate and legal participation, get signs to you, and assign you a place along Broad Street to stand. Respectfully, Hugh Wilson, Coordinator, Sumter “Life Chain”
Remember our shut-ins and drop them a note of encouragement to let them know they are in our thoughts and prayers:
Mr. Carl Leonhirth—Covenant Place, 2825 Carter Rd, Unit 124, Sumter, SC 29150 (add to your church directory)
New Christ in our Home devotional books for the fourth quarter of 2020 (October through December) are in the Library and Narthex. Large Print versions are also available. Please pick up your copy today.
September Lay Reader Schedule
If you will be unavailable on your assigned Sunday, please let Cheryl Schemling (803-499-1050) or Valerie know as soon as possible.
Please contact the church office (phone or email) with any announcements you would like to have put in the bulletin.
Property (John Kinser): The FSH A/C is not working. Our consensus, at this time, is not to have it fixed for the immediate future. The Synod recommends no coffee hour, congregational dinners, etc. that would require the use of the FSH. At some point, we will either have to decide to limp it along again or replace the system. Right now, this is not a priority. Therefore, to alleviate the need for the FSH for committee meetings, Council meetings, Sunday School, Bible study, etc. we will set up classroom #5 in the Education Wing for small group meetings. It is a double classroom with enough space for up to 12 people to properly distance. After the school officially closes on May 31st, our team will get this room set up. There are other classrooms that may be used for smaller groups should there be a scheduling conflict.
Pastor Keith Getz may be reached during office hours at 803-773-2260. At times of crisis: 803-607-5956 (Cell); Email - email@example.com. Regular Office Hours: Office hours are Monday thru Thursday, 8:30-12:30am. Please call his cell phone if you need to contact him.
Sermon Text for Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost (09-13-2020)
Today’s Gospel reading touches on an important and crucial aspect of the Christian life, which often times is also one of the most difficult, and that is to forgive. But what is the primary meaning of forgiveness in Holy Scripture and in the Creeds? And when I think of the answer to that question, I can’t help but think of a story I read some years ago about a parish priest named Papastavros.
This story comes from Kevin Andrews’s book, The Flight of Ikaros. In 1949, Andrews was studying medieval fortresses in Greece. His travels took him through an area destroyed by the German occupied forces during WWII. And the cruelty of the post-war conflict between Communists and anti-Communists had just recently come to a close. Andrews was shown hospitality by the parish priest, Papastavros, one evening and stayed with him in a shed that had become the priest’s home after his house had been burned down. As is often the case, when there is hospitality, fellowship happens and life stories are shared.
The priest told Andrews about his two eldest sons who had joined the Resistance during German occupation, but were betrayed by some villagers who told the Germans where they were hiding. His sons were captured and never seen again. Around the same time, his wife died of starvation. Papastavros then told him that after the war, he was coming home one day to find his house had been set on fire by Communist supporters. His married daughter, who was pregnant with her second child and her baby son had been living with him at the time.
Papastavros returned home in time to see them drag his daughter out of the house and shoot her and his grandson in front of him. Those who did this horrible, in humane things were not from some distant country, but they were local people. He knew them and would see them daily after this horrible event. One of the women of the village told Andrews how she wondered how the priest hadn’t gone mad. The priest didn’t lose his sanity, but instead, encouraged the people to forgive, saying, “there exists no other way.” He also told Andrews that their response to this was to laugh in his face. But, when Andrews talked to the priest’s only surviving son, he saw things differently.
The son did not laugh at his father but said, “He is free because he forgives.” Sometimes a set of circumstances are so complex, so out of our control, so horrible, and so filled with anguishing pain that the only way to move forward in life is to forgive. Why? Because forgiveness frees us from the temptation of vengeance and violence that only makes matters worse and moves us further away from God. It releases us from the power of anger and bitterness that destroys the soul and moves us forward in our life with Christ.
In forgiveness, we are liberated from the power of a person or painful situation, so our identity is no longer primarily defined as a victim, but we are able to move forward and grow into our identity as people of God. To forgive is to move forward in love and mercy. Another great example of forgiveness is the account of Joseph forgiving his brothers. Joseph is now a very wealthy and powerful man. He has the power to save his brothers from starving. He also has the power to hurt his brothers and carry out his vengeance.
In our Old Testament story, Joseph has already told his brothers how much his sin has hurt him. And in our text, the brothers come seeking forgiveness. His brothers are worried about how he will respond. What enables Joseph to forgive his brothers? Forgiveness. Joseph remembers his story differently. He interprets his struggles brought on by his brothers as a story of God’s presence to deliver him and use his situation to bring about a greater good. His brothers tried to harm him, but God uses their sinful behavior to bring life. He remembers, not only what his brothers did but what God did.
Through forgiveness, Joseph and his family are able to move forward into new life. The forgiveness and reconciliation between members of family brings us to our Gospel text for today, because the Church really is a family. It is important to seek reconciliation and forgiveness between members of the body of Christ.
Peter wants to know if there is a limit to how much we can forgive: Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" But Jesus tells him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. Seventy seven times points back to the establishment of the jubilee year mentioned in Leviticus 25:8: It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family.
In the jubilee year, all debts are forgiven, which brings us to Jesus’ parable. Jesus tells us the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king, who wishes to settle accounts with his slaves. One of his slaves owes him 10,000 talents. A talent was the largest currency unit in the whole Near East. And 10,000 was the highest number used in reckoning. A talent was equivalent to 6,000 denarii, and a denarius was a day’s wage for a common laborer. A common laborer like this slave would work around 300 days per year, which means a talent is worth 20 years’ wages. Multiply by that by ten thousand, and the amount would be equivalent to 200,000 years’ wages. But, the king released him and forgave him the debt.
Jesus tells Peter and the other disciples this parable to reveal the abundant, generous heart of God to forgive us of our sins. In Christ, we are set free from the bondage of sin and death and let loose to be a source of mercy and forgiveness to others. Like the parable, forgiveness received is the basis for forgiveness given. The freed slave should have forgiven his fellow slave, who only owed him 100 denarii, about 4 months’ wages. But, instead, he throws him into prison. He begged the king for patience, so he could have time to pay off the debt, and now his fellow slave asks for the same thing. But there is no mercy in the unforgiving slave.
The message of Jesus’ parable is very clear. The forgiveness to be exercised in the church is possible because the jubilee has come in Jesus. The debt of sin has been paid by Jesus Christ on the cross. Peter’s question presupposes that he is the one who has been sinned against. But Jesus reminds Peter that he needs to see himself as the one who has first been forgiven. To admit that we have sinned against God and neighbor comes from an attitude of humility. And to see ourselves as the one who has sinned and has been forgiven of our enumerate sins moves us to forgive those in the church who have sinned against us only a little compared to our own sins. Jesus tells Peter to forgive, not 7 but 77 times. Jesus means that there is always forgiveness. If there was a limit to God’s forgiveness, Peter would no longer be a disciple. Since God forgave the disciples so lavishly, they ought to forgive others in the same way. Not to earn God’s forgiveness but to show forgiveness in response to already being forgiven.
As God's people, we are called to model mercy and forgiveness after God. Forgiveness sets us free. Forgiveness liberates us from sin that hinders us from moving forward to dwell in Christ’s love and presence and have new life in Him. The one in the community, who committed the sin and is repentant, is set free from the guilt and shame of their actions when forgiven by the victim. Their past actions no longer weigh them down. They are free to love God and neighbor.
Through forgiveness, mutual healing and reconciliation of relationships within the Christian community is restored. However, we need to hear Jesus' words in relation to last Sunday. Jesus is not saying that sinners in our community should be forgiven without confrontation. We still need to expose sin for sin when it occurs, speaking the truth in love. But the sinner needs to know that when they repent, they will receive forgiveness and mercy.
We forgive one another because we have been forgiven. On the cross Jesus cried out to his father, saying: "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." Jesus models forgiveness for us. The love and mercy and forgiveness of our Father, took Jesus to the cross to be crucified. Through Jesus' victory on the cross, we have been redeemed and forgiven.
When we participate in the sacraments, we are forgiven. When we let the Spirit change our minds and hearts, through God's word, we are forgiven. We are a forgiven and forgiving people. So, we forgive, freeing ourselves from sinful passions such as hate, and revenge. In forgiveness, relationships are restored so we can be free to live in union with Christ and one another. We are free to love completely. Our lack of forgiveness and mercy causes us to keep anger and hate in our hearts. These sinful passions against the body of Christ, reject the gift of forgiveness given to us by Christ, separate us from God and isolates us from the community of Christ.
Jesus calls us to forgive because in this act, our hearts begin to heal. We begin to have God reign in our hearts again. Our heart no longer carries in it hate and anger. Our souls no longer move toward sin and death. We have made room for Christ to dwell in our hearts. And our mercy and forgiveness for one another spills out and into the world. We show the world a better way to live. We show the world a better way to respond to sin. We show the world that through Christ, they, too, can live a life of abundant forgiveness and love. They, too, can be set free from sin for a new eternal life with Christ, a life of God’s presence and abundant love.Amen
Internet Online Notification Instructions to access weekly online service videos through:
Go directly to the St. James website (www.stjamessumter.org) and click on the Facebook icon link at the bottom of the page, lower right side.
2020 Annual Congregational Meeting Election Results:
Council Executive Team for 2020
Newly elected members of Council (three year term 2020-2022)
Nominating Team Members (2020-2021)
2020 Congregation Synod Assembly Representative (Rescheduled as a Zoom Virtual Assembly on July 25, 2020; hosted by SCSynod, Columbia SC): Alex McLeod & Karen Hesselbart
Please Note : Pastor Keith’s day off is now on Monday.
SJLS School is Closed. Reopening the school for the 2021-2022 will be assessed over the next 6-12 months.
The 2020 Altar Flower calendar is up in the Narthex. Please take a few minutes to reserve your date(s). Altar flowers can be dedicated to remember a loved one or to commemorate a special event, such as a birthday or anniversary. Fresh flowers are always a blessing. The cost for the two arrangements are $54.00 – if you choose, the arrangements may be shared/split between two families.
If you want to send an update or a message for the congregation to be published in next bulletin, feel free to let us know (email the church, leave a message on church phone or call Valerie).
If you would like to have a visit from Pastor Keith, please give him a call or send an email.
During worship, we will be standing for the Hymn of the Day which is after the sermon.
Distribution of Holy Communion—We will be distributing Holy Communion to those who are unable to come up to the Altar first, followed by the rest of the Congregation. Suspended UFN due to COVID-19 precautions based on SC Synod guidance.
When folding the kneelers back up, please try to do it quietly.
NURSERY (Not Available UFN) : We have a nursery available during the 10:00 a.m. Worship Service. Thank you to all of those who have volunteered to assist with this much needed ministry.
Silence (in the Nave): We enter the church in silence, being respectful of God’s house and mindful of those who are already there praying. Also, during the distribution of Holy Communion, we sit in our pews in silence or in silent prayer, acknowledging the sanctity of the moment and being respectful of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood.
Prayer and Meditation Time—Prior to the service, only the altar lights will be on for a time of prayer and meditation.
As part of our mission to proclaim Jesus Christ in word and deed, the Evangelism team encourages you to be on the lookout for those in your community who are in need and see how you can help make their day a little better. This random act of kindness can be anything from paying for someone’s meal behind you at the fast food drive-through to opening the door for someone. The important thing is to be aware of someone in need and show them the love of Jesus Christ. We have cards located in the narthex that say: “This random act of kindness has been passed on to you by St. James Lutheran Church. Baptized to Serve.” The card also has our church’s physical address and email on it. This is an easy way for us to help those in our community and to show others that St. James and Jesus Christ cares about them. Please pick up some cards after worship if you wish to participate.
ELCA Disaster Relief Fund - If you would like to make a donation to the ELCA Disaster Relief Fund you may do so by sending your check to (or use the Internet DRF link on home page):
Lutheran Disaster Response
What’s going on with the Youth Next!
Sunday, 13th of September : Youth Group - None
St. James Lutheran Church E-mail addresses: The Church Administrative Assistant Ms. Valerie Johnson can be reached at Office: 773-2260 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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