This Week at St. James:
January 24th thru January 30th (Third Sunday after Epiphany)
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: Prelude—Prelude—”Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne” arranged by Martin; Postlude—”From Heaven Above” by V Schumann
Flowers today are given to the Glory of God by Carl & Cathy Simpson.
Remember in your Prayers for healing and other: Jeanne Bessel, Tom Lovett, Norman McLeod (Alex’s brother), Virginia McCoy (Karen Hesselbart’s mother), JoAnn Nagy and her son Alex (friends of the Getz Family), Dee Osborne, Arletta Price, Pam Price (daughter of Emery & Nancy McElveen), Brian Register (son of Perry & Mary), Perry Register, Ann Reynolds, Gabriella Roberts (Grand-daughter of Stephen & Paula Bohm), Stan Salter, Bill Scobee, Betty Shaw, Danny Smith (Laura Getz’s uncle) 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.
Call Susan Caulkins at 803-773-1040 if you need to register one-time larger family group seating (9:00 or 11:00 a.m. service).
Offering for Sunday, January 24th - $ TBD January Total - $ TBD
2020 Average Attendance
2020 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.
2021 Annual Congregational Meeting Election Results:
Council Executive Team for 2021
Newly elected members of Council (three year term 2021-2023)
Nominating Team Members (2021-2022)
The weekly church office hours are Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Weekly Bulletin & News: Please contact the church office (phone or email) with any announcements or prayer list additions
The Adult Sunday School meets in Classroom #5 at 9:45 on Sunday. We are currently studying "Heaven - Finding Our True Home" (eight week study). If you have questions, please contact Karen Hesselbart at 803-464-4343. All are invited to attend.
2021 Altar Flower calendar is up in the Narthex.
In-Person Bible Study will be held on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary.
On-Line Bible Study will be held on Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. To join Bible Study on Google Meet, click this link:
2021 offering envelopes are in the Narthex (Crawshaw, K. Hamm, James F. Lee, Regan, Tidwell). If you are one that checks on any of these people, it would be nice if you would deliver their envelopes to them. If so……Thank you.
Christ in our Home devotional books for the first quarter of 2021 (January through March) are in the Library and Narthex. Large Print versions are also available. Please pick up your copy today.
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)
January Lay Reader Schedule
February 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. (* Change)
Please contact the church office (phone or email) with any announcements you would like to have put in the bulletin.
Pastor Keith Getz may be reached during office hours at 803-773-2260. At times of crisis: 803-607-5956 (Cell); Email - firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Third Sunday after Epiphany (01-24-21)
Sermon Text for Second Sunday after Epiphany (01-17-21)
Come and see.
What do you hope to find in 2021? What changes do you want to see take place in your life, the life of your loved ones, and in our country? Do we feel deep within us that we have been just surviving, existing, but not really living for the past year?
We all know things are not as they should be: Sin seems to be running rampant. The pandemic has shown us how fragile life is. Social and political unrest has added to our anxiety. Many times we feel powerless to do anything about any of it. Perhaps this sense of helplessness to change their situation and the feeling of barely surviving are the feelings of John’s disciples, who were Jews under the oppressive rule of Rome. But John knows how change can happen and where to find it.
As Jesus walks by, he tells them: “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” And their longing for new life within them set them in motion, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus says to them and to us: “What are you looking for?” When they ask him, “Where are you staying,” he responds, “Come and see.” These words of Jesus, “Come and see” will become the evangelical words of his disciple, Philip.
When Philip tells Nathanael, that “we have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth,” Nathaniel asks, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathaniel’s words of resistance to the good news about Jesus reminds us of the scandal of the gospel. Nazareth was a town that was insignificant in importance. Could the mighty Anointed One of God, the long foretold Messiah, come from such humble beginnings? Can God show his mighty power through such weakness? Can death on the cross be God’s victory over sin and death, the beginning of the Messiah’s reign?
Philip doesn’t argue with Nathaniel. He doesn’t try to say something to convince him. Philip doesn’t engage him in a theological debate. He simply offers Nathaniel the same invitation that Jesus offered his first disciples: “Come and see.” Philip offers Nathaniel a chance to experience the Messiah and see for himself. And Nathaniel agrees to come and see.
Our witness about Jesus Christ always begins with God’s action. It begins with Jesus’ invitation. God is revealed to us through Jesus. Jesus is revealed to us through the witnesses of the apostles. Their accounts are in the Bible, the creeds, and our liturgy. These witnesses of the Church and our witness to others about Jesus Christ, always begins with Jesus’s invitation into fellowship.
Jesus invites us into fellowship with him at our baptism. Through the Spirit and water, God claims us as his children, through Jesus. From the womb of the font, we enter into a new life, living in the Spirit. By grace through faith, we are able to see the incarnation in our midst. We are able to hear the living Word, Jesus Christ. And we are able to speak, to witness, about Jesus Christ. We are able to tell others the story of God, a story of redemption and salvation for God’s people, a claim not based on an ideal but based on a man, Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Our decision to take up our cross and follow Jesus is centered on who Jesus is. Our identity as disciples, our witness, is centered on the identity of Jesus. It is centered on the Incarnation, God made flesh, Jesus the Messiah. Jesus declares at the end of our Gospel reading today: Very truly, I tell you, 1 you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man. These words are a reference to the ladder of Jacob’s dream at Bethel, in Genesis 28, upon which “the angels of God were ascending and descending”. No longer are we separated from heaven and earth. Jesus, the Son of God, is the ladder between heaven and earth.
It is in Jesus, the Word made flesh, that we encounter the Almighty God. As witnesses, as Disciples of Christ, we are called to tell others about Jesus. We are called to tell God’s story. We do this by our words and actions. We do this by inviting others to “Come and See!” We invite them to experience Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord within his community.
In the reading and hearing of Holy Scripture and in the proclamation of the Gospel, we encounter the real presence of Jesus Christ. We encounter his real presence in the Sacraments, in a splash and a taste. As Christians, we carry God’s message of hope, reconciliation, redemption, salvation, and love to others because we have encountered Jesus Christ and have been changed. We go out to be Christ’s change for others, joining our voices with the disciples’ voices, saying, “Come and see.”
Come and see something new is about to happen. Experience Christ in the lives of his followers,
Sermon Text for Baptism of Our Lord (01-10-21)
Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, which is an epiphany of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And Jesus’s baptism says a lot about who he is and who we are.
John, who is dressed like Elijah, the prophet who was expected to prepare the way for the Messiah, cries out to the people to repent and be baptized. All this happens on the banks of the Jordan River, the border between the wilderness and the promised land of milk and honey. We, too, are baptized in the Jordan River, the baptismal font, living at the border between the wilderness of our life and the transfigured promised land to come.
John rightfully claims that Jesus is the more powerful one who is coming. In the midst of our personal struggles, and the struggles of our congregation, and the struggles of our nation, we put our trust in the only one who has the power to renew our lives, to renew the church, to renew our nation. We put our trust in Jesus Christ, who is the power and presence of God to create, recreate, and pull us out of the ashes of our sinful life and into the resurrection of new life.
Jesus has the power of God to bring about a new kind of baptism, a baptism with the Holy Spirit. Because of Jesus’s baptism, all Christian baptisms become the waters of the Jordan River, where we encounter the Father,Son, and Holy Spirit. In Christian baptism, we are baptized with the Holy Spirit and become God’s Beloved, his sons and daughters. At Jesus’ baptism, we hear how the heavens were torn apart. Being torn apart means they can’t be closed again. This reminds us of the tearing of the temple curtain at the moment of Jesus' death: “And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.”
No longer are there boundaries between humanity and God. God makes himself available to us
In baptism, we are created anew. The Spirit descending upon Jesus also echoes the older promise of the gift of the Spirit in the new creation, especially as it had been announced by the prophet Isaiah: 1 Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2 He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. 4 He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching. 5 Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it (Isaiah 42). And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." “Beloved” is the language of God’s promise to Abraham, concerning Isaac, the beloved only Son, whom the patriarch was prepared to sacrifice in obedience to God’s command.
Jesus’ destiny is to be the true sacrifice, giving his life for the sake of all humanity. At Jesus’ baptism, he shows solidarity with fallen humanity, and he will fully enter the sinfulness and alienation of the world through his Passion and death on the cross. On the cross, he will be submerged in the watery darkness of death and emerge, raised up on the third day, to be seated at the right hand of the Father. The One who has been anointed by the Spirit, inaugurated to do God’s work and will in the world, will also give the Spirit to all who come to him, seeking healing, restoration, and new life.
The new life of faith in Christ, the new beginning in relationship with God, that begins at our baptism is a life of daily drawing on our baptismal grace. It is a daily rhythm of crucifying the sinful self, so the new self in Christ can live. Through the divine illumination of baptism, we have received the light of Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Only in Jesus can we truly live and have abundant life with God. Living out our baptism is living in the new reality that despite all appearances and despite all the times it appears that the forces of evil in its forms of ignorance, oppression, inequality, and hate have won, Christ is the true victor. Christ has won the victory against sin and death and rules as king of this world. Christ is in the business of transforming the world. Our baptisms are part of this transformation. And the church carries and embodies Christ to the world, so that through Him, the world can be redeemed and changed.
May our lives be one of humility and repentance. May it be a life of prayer and charity. May we always put our trust and loyalty in Christ above all others and above all ideologies. May we continue to draw on our baptismal grace, surrendering to Christ’s illuminating love, and letting him make us into a new creation that glorifies God by lovingly serving our neighbor.
Sermon Text for Epiphany of Our Lord (01-03-21)
An unusual star in the quiet night sky viewed by Gentiles, staring at the heavens.
What was it like for the mysterious wisemen from the east to gaze at the Star of the Nativity?
With the appearance of the Christmas star this winter, we may feel we have some idea what that was like for them. My youngest son and I stood outside and gazed at this astrological phenomenon as some of you may have. Whether the star the wisemen saw was Jupiter and Saturn coming together or something else, what we do know is that God gave them a celestial sign that would guide them to discover Christ.
The visit of the magi to Christ is an epiphany, a revelation, an appearance, or manifestation of God in the baby Jesus. And God’s invitation and great reveal of his Son is offered to the Gentiles and not just to the Jews. St. Matthew doesn’t tell us how the wise men knew this star meant the birth of a king who would rule the world. If they were from Babylon, they may have known about the prophet Daniel’s prophecy of the coming Son of Man, who would rule over the world. Based on their expensive gifts, they may have been from a royal, priestly order.
These wisemen were astrologers, who discovered a heavenly sign that pointed to the birth of a future king. God meets them where they are in life, disrupts their routine, and sets them in motion on a journey of discovery that will lead to new life. God can use ordinary means, ordinary situations, to reveal his extraordinary presence in our lives. God uses his creation, his star, to reveal the birth of his Son. But deeper knowledge of God and his Son comes from Holy Scripture. And strangely, it will be through Herod, who is against God and his Kingdom coming in his Son, that will illuminate these Gentiles from the east about the Messiah.
Herod summons the chief priests and scribes of the people and asks them where the Messiah was to be born. They quote Scripture, the words of the prophets, Micah and Samuel - Micah says: But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days (5:2). And Samuel says: For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The LORD said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel." (2 Samuel 5:2).
It is God’s action, the guiding star, the guiding words of God spoken through the prophets that lead the wise men to Bethlehem, to the baby Jesus, the Messiah. It is ironic that the Jewish chief priests and scribes do nothing to seek Jesus. They are the experts of scripture, yet they, along with Herod, do nothing. Understanding scripture isn’t enough. Herod and all of Jerusalem respond to Jesus’ coming with fear. Herod’s response is understandable.
All who enjoy power through the systematic evil of oppression and exploitation should fear the power and presence of God’s kingdom that is manifested in Jesus. But why the rest of Jerusalem? Those who align themselves with the powers of this world also have reason to fear. And the weak and oppressed would have been afraid of what turmoil a rival king would mean for their lives. Herod hypocritically tells the magi he wants to worship Jesus. But we know from Matthew’s gospel that he desires to kill the child. It is the Gentile wisemen that respond to God’s action.
Following God, worshiping Him, is more than just worship on Sunday. Following God involves action. It involves change. As baptized believers of Jesus Christ, we have been enlightened to follow Jesus. We have been transformed by Jesus Christ. Through God’s grace in Jesus, who entered into our world, we are empowered to act, empowered to follow the star to Bethlehem.
This Sunday, on the Epiphany of our Lord, we are reminded that God fulfills his promises. God has made known his presence, the Incarnation. Through a star and Holy Scripture, the manifestation of God comes to all people. God’s salvation comes to all people from a child born in Bethlehem. The magi’s journey to Bethlehem is a response to God’s salvation. Their response is a fulfillment of the pilgrimage of all nations to God.
To confess that Jesus is the Messiah, our Christ, is to confess that the reality of God’s salvation for all people has begun. Though Jesus, walls of race and culture are torn down. And like the magi, we are called to act, not just hear the Word of God. We are called to follow God. We are called to follow the light of the world, Jesus, and look at others with the eyes of Christ. For God’s grace, his favor, his acceptance of us, through Jesus Christ always involves change, a change in us that involves action.
Matthew says: On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These were appropriate gifts for Jesus, whose name means the Lord Saves. Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, Emmanuel – God With Us. Gold was appropriate for the King of Kings. Frankincense and myrrh were expensive aromatic gum resins, not found in Palestine. These gifts would come from the wealthy, perhaps even kings. Frankincense was used in temple worship by the priest, a fitting gift for the divine Lord, the High Priest. In Isaiah. 60: 6, Gold and incense are mentioned as gifts of homage that the Gentiles will place before the God of Israel. Myrrh was used in embalming and foreshadows Jesus’ death on the cross. These gifts are signs pointing to Jesus as our Messiah and God’s Son. Signs are important. They can tell who and whose we are. The cross is a sign. The cross is a sign to Christians that says, “Jesus Christ, God Incarnate is in power, follow me, Jesus is Lord.”
At our baptisms, we have been marked with the cross of Christ forever. We are God’s children, followers of Christ, People of the Way. Matthew says, And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they [the magi] left for their own country by another road, translated also as way. As people of the Way, Jesus Christ, we are called to follow the road of righteousness. We are called to action. We are called to worship our Lord by living out our faith in word and action.
The manifestation of the Incarnation didn’t end with the magi going home. The Gentiles went home as witnesses to the birth of Christ. Their lives were changed forever. They were now people of the Way. The manifestation of Jesus Christ continues. Jesus’ story of salvation to all people, His story of God’s action, continues. God’s story isn’t finished. All the pages haven’t been written. God continues to come into our lives. Through his Son, he gets our attention, disrupts our lives, and moves us on the path that leads to eternal life. It is a path of sacrifice, of a new abundant, purposeful life. It is a life of never ending love that sets us in motion with joyful anticipation. It moves us out of our comfort zones and into the unknown where we encounter the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ.
May this new year be filled with God’s blessings, new opportunities to serve our neighbor, and new epiphanies where we encounter Christ.
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.
Please Note : Pastor Keith’s day off is Monday.
SJLS School is Closed for 2020-2021 and 2022-2023. Reopening the school for the SY 2023-2024 will be assessed in late 2021, early 2022 to determine the COVID-19 vaccine program efficacy impact on startup options.
The 2021 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, 24th of January : Youth Group - None [Suspended UFN]
St. James Lutheran Church E-mail addresses: The Church Administrative Assistant Ms. Valerie Johnson can be reached at Office: 773-2260 or E-mail: email@example.com.
Monthly Newsletters:Printable Monthly Newsletters