This Week at St. James:
November 22nd thru November 28th (Christ the King Sunday)
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 ”God, Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens” arranged by Wood; Postlude—”How Beautiful” by Stainer
Altar Flowers are given to the Glory of God and in thankfulness for his many blessings by Eric & Paula Hutchison and Judy Lessard.
Remember in your Prayers for healing and other: Jeanne Bessel, Tom Lovett, Norman McLeod (Alex’s brother), JoAnn Nagy and her son Alex (friends of the Getz Family), Dee Osborne, Perry Register, Ann Reynolds, Wilda Ritchie (George Getz’s sister), Gabriella Roberts (Grand-daughter of Stephen & Paula Bohm), Stan Salter, Bill Scobee (rehab for knee replacement), Betty Shaw, Eve Stegner 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 for October 18th or beyond (9:00 or 11:00 a.m. service).
Offering for Sunday, November 22nd - $5,145.71 August Total - $15,999.71
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.
The church office is open 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
Dear Church Family,
Advent Devotionals are in the Library and the Narthex for anyone that would like to pick one up.
Chrismon Tree and other church decorating will be held on Saturday, December 5th at 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If you have questions, contact Dot Weishuhn at 803-775-4907.
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.
Sumter United Ministries provides Thanksgiving dinner boxes through their "Giving Thanks" program. This year, you are invited to join in packing boxes of food for this program. Volunteers from St. James are to pack food boxes from 10 - 12 on Friday, November 20th. This is in the Sumter United Ministries warehouse, so bring a jacket in case it's chilly. Masks are required. They are also in need of car/ drivers that are willing to deliver boxes on Tuesday, November 24th. Our family is participating on both days; please let me know if you can join us. I need to let them know how many volunteers we have in our group prior to the service dates. Please call or text Laura Getz if interested. 864-630-6793
Traditionally, we honor our staff with a year-end monetary “thank-you”. To contribute to this gift, please make your check out to “St. James Lutheran Church” and mark “Staff Gift, attention Susan Caulkins” on the envelope by Sunday, December 13th. You may either mail your envelope or place it in the offering plate. Thank you for your participation.
Face-to-face Bible Study: No Bible Study: With masks and social distancing on Tuesday, November 24th, at 10:30 a.m.
Online Bible Study - No Bible Study Thursday, November 26th (Thanksgiving), at 10:30 a.m.
Bible Study will resume on December 1st.
IMPORTANT: We will have 3 council members whose terms will end in January, 2021. If you are interested in filling one of these positions, please contact Emery McElveen at 803-469-3036.
Christmas will be on Friday this year. Christmas Eve services will be held at 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on Thursday. Please call Susan Caulkins to reserve your service preference so we may plan seating (803-773-1040).
The Annual Congregational Meeting of St. James Lutheran will be held on Sunday, January 10th, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. in the Nave/Sanctuary. We have arrangements for overflow capacity. If you require hearing assistance through our system, please arrive early. There will be “NO” Potluck Luncheon. Be sure and mark your calendar. Please call Susan Caulkins for reservations at 803-773-1040
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.
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)
November 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.
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 - 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 Christ the King Sunday (11-22-2020)
Today, we rejoice and celebrate Christ the King. God promised us a king through the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel. While in exile in Babylon, God gives hope to the people. As we try to find a new normal during a pandemic and as we cope with the day to day anxieties of life, the day to day tragedies in the world, our world, we may feel a sense of depression, a sense of exile from joy, wholeness, and from God’s presence in our lives. But in the darkness of separation and in the moment of despair, comes a divine voice.
As we stand on the precipice of oblivion, the voice of God calls us back to life. He calls us to have hope in him and his king. Through darkness and death, there is light and life. God says, “I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak..” But, later in Ezekiel, he says: “I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them..”
God says he will be the shepherd of God’s people, providing and protecting us. And at the same time, he mentions a shepherd king who will do these things. So which is it? Is God going to be our shepherd or will it be his anointed prince of David. The answer is both. The anointed shepherd king from the line of David is also God-the Son, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who will seek out the lost, restore them to wholeness, and protect and guide them.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd King, brings deliverance out of judgment, life out of death. He came into the world, not as a person of privilege, but as one who was poor. He knew what it was like to flee the country as a refugee. He knew what it was like to be homeless, hungry, thirsty, despised, rejected, an outcast. He knew what it was like to be treated with injustice and stripped of his dignity, and to ultimately die outside the city gates of Jerusalem as a criminal for a crime he didn’t commit. But it is from the cross, the throne of the King, that he is victorious in conquering his enemies of this world with a divine love that can’t be stopped.
He is Christ the King, who is seated at the right hand of the Father and will come again to judge the living and the dead. When he returns, he will crush all his enemies under foot and heal the world, transforming it into a place of peace and life, a place of joy, filled with the presence of God. When the disciples asked Jesus what will be the sign of his coming and of the end of the age, they are given a series of parables, including today’s parable.
Jesus tells them that the king will come in his glory with all the angels. He will sit on his thrown.
The unrighteous were also clueless about helping Jesus. They did nothing and are equally surprised. So what is Jesus saying here? Jesus is simply explaining that good trees bear good fruit. Those who do the work of Christ in charity and love show they are inheritors of the kingdom. To inherit something is to receive a gift, not something we can earn. We don't help others to earn salvation by our good deeds. We simply help others because it is who and whose we are.
We are God's people. We are Christ's disciples. We see someone in need so we help them because that is who we are. We have been united with Jesus Christ through Holy Baptism. We help others because we were first helped by Jesus. We help others because as Jesus' followers we can't help but do anything else. Our actions flow from our faith, from our relationship with Jesus. A life in Jesus is a life transformed by his presence so that we re-present Jesus Christ here on earth. And we are able to see Jesus in those in need.
Faith is always active because Jesus living in us is always active. The righteous are those who have received Jesus in their minds and in their hearts. And, their lives reflect the change that has happened within them. The unrighteous are those who do lip service to God, but have never let Jesus into their hearts. Their actions condemn them, showing God does not reign in their hearts.
Jesus calls us today to action. He calls us to be loyal to our King. He calls us to bring the love of God to others. He calls us to be Christ's Body in the world, bringing others to Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us that when we do acts of charity and love to those rejected, despised, and forgotten in our society, we are doing these actions of love to Him. He calls us to see himself in the faces of those in need and show others the love and mercy shown to us through Christ. This means that Christ is not only found inside the church through Word and Sacrament. It is also in mission, moving outward and into the world, that we encounter Christ.
It should be of no surprise that we encounter Jesus in this way. His life, ministry, and death has been a mission of identifying with the world’s outcasts. In his Passion, Christ intentionally and actually identified with the weak, the powerless, the defenseless, the hated, and the tortured.
For those who carry Christ and his reign in their hearts, they cannot serve their King without serving those to whom he identifies with, the suffering. Those who hunger and thirst for Christ
Sermon Text for Twentieth-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost (11-15-2020)
As we move rapidly closer to the season of Advent, a season of hopeful anticipation and waiting
The word talent actually refers to money. At the basic wage of 1 denarius a day, a talent was around 20 years of work. Two talents would be 40 years' wages. Five talents would be 100 years' wages. It is clear that Jesus wants us to understand that he generously gives us God's abundant gifts of his grace. His table of generosity is overflowing. Like the ones who have received five, and two, and one talent, each according to their ability, each of us have been entrusted with spiritual gifts and have been given natural gifts by our creator.
Our gifts may vary in amount or in ability, but all followers of Christ are given gifts to equip them for witnessing Christ and being his presence of love and healing in the world. And the more we actively engage in helping our neighbor and showing them the superabundant love of Christ Jesus, the more we experience the joy of our Master. And the more we experience this divine joy of self-giving love, the closer we align ourselves with the kingdom of heaven, detaching ourselves from the material trappings of this worldly kingdom.
As we grow in knowledge and likeness of God, we are entrusted with more of his gifts to be used for the common good. When we intentionally and boldly live out our faith by entering into the messiness of other people’s pain and suffering, the more our experience with them will be an encounter with Christ, who will increase his blessings and joy upon us and them.
Fear can be a powerful, debilitating force that can choke out love for others. It can choke out our witness to others about Christ. But Jesus calls us to trust him. He will give us what we need to do his work in the world. And we should not be afraid that we do not have spiritual gifts. We all share the same Spirit, all live in Christ, so we all have been given gifts to do God’s work in the world. Jesus doesn’t send us into the world without equipping us first.
So, as Luther would say, “Sin boldly!” which means do something and don’t be afraid of messing up, because, as Luther says right after “Sin boldly!”, “But believe even more boldly in Christ, and rejoice.” Jesus calls us to not worry so much about securing our own lives, but surrender in self abandonment to him and his love, trusting that the gift of Christ’s love will more than compensate for anything lacking in us or any mistake on our part.
As we wait for Christ to return, we are reminded of the other gift that Christ gives us, which is the gift of time. It is living in the moment with intention and conviction that we are recipients and participants of God’s superabundant grace and love. And it is in sharing our gifts for the sake of loving others that our lives have meaning. As we deal with the labor pains, our struggles and sufferings in this world, we are reminded that they will dim in comparison with the birth of God’s new age when he returns to end sin, death, and suffering and to give us full, superabundant, eternal life.
And we are called to witness to Christ and to this new life in him. When and where Jesus’s gifts have born fruit by our faithful witness, God gives even greater abundance, multiplying his blessings and grace. But where his gift has been fruitless, the gift is lost. Jesus’s gifts are not to be hoarded as if they are our possession. The one who hides the gift of Christ by burying it into the earth, using it completely for worldly affairs and one’s own self-interest, afraid of sharing it with others, does not receive the joy of their Master, and, like muscles which have not been used for a long time, they will lose their gift.
If one does not have love, one will lose God’s gifts in Christ. Jesus’s parables have an overall, primary meaning that is important for his listeners to ponder. But if we try to analyze every detail of the parable, and treat each detail of the parable allegorically, one might ask: what it means that a gift is taken from one who is unfaithful and given to another. If we follow this approach, then it seems to me this suggests that those who do not use their gift for a particular ministry will lose it and the one who uses Christ’s gift for that same ministry will find their gift increased along with the joy of their Master and their knowledge of God.
The unfaithful slave does not accept the invitation of his Master, Jesus, to a life of superabundant grace, love, and joy. He takes God’s gifts and uses them to secure his own life, disregarding the needs of others. He can’t see the benevolence of his Master, who gives him an abundance of gifts to share. He thinks like the world, believing there is only so much that one can have, only one pie that can only be divided up in so many ways among the masses, so he is worried that if he gives the gift, he may lose it. And as a result, he tries to secure his slice of the pie. He doesn’t understand that the more he gives, the more is given to him. These gifts flow from the Master’s primary gift of new life in Him.
By not sharing what has been given, the unfaithful slave treats the Master’s gift as his personal possession. He does not share in the joy of his Master, has no love for others, and loses the gift of new life. And so, he condemns himself and creates for himself an existence of fear and sorrow, lacking love and joy, an existence of wailing and grinding of teeth. He sees the Master as a harsh judge, instead of a benevolent gift-giver. And ultimately, his existence will end in a hellish death. But for the good and faithful servants, who lay hold of Christ through faith and endure during the birth pains of this world, it is a life of God’s abundant gifts, a life of joy in God’s presence, a life of self-giving love, a life of active discipleship, in which we share in the joy of our Master in changing the world from death to life. It is a life of entering the joy of our Master, which is entering into eternal life, a life of love without end.
Sermon Text for Twentieth-Third Sunday after Pentecost (11-08-2020)
I think decorating for Christmas, listening to Christmas music, gets us exited at the coming of Christmas. And it is in the preparations that can create a longing and anticipation of this feast day that brings us joy. And certainly joy is something we could all use right now. In many ways, preparations for the coming of Christ and participation in the joy his coming brings are at the heart of our gospel and Pauline text today.
We hear Jesus’s Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids or also called the Parable of the 10 Virgins. What is Jesus’s message in his parable? And how can we apply it to our lives today? Jesus tells the disciples about the kingdom heaven. More specifically, he tells them about the coming of the kingdom at his Second Coming. Just like other Christians throughout the ages who have heard this parable, we, too, live in the in-between times. Jesus ushered in the reign of God on earth, and on the cross, he won the victory over sin, death, and the devil. But the full reality of God’s reign on earth and the full manifestation of Jesus’s victory on the cross will appear when he returns. So, Jesus gives us this parable so we will know what we should do while we await our King’s, or should I say, “Bridegroom’s,” return.
The wise bridesmaids are prepared, bringing flasks of oil, while the foolish ones did not. It seems to me that the oil represents a life of obedience and love to Christ. It is a life of faith that is expressed by actions of love and compassion toward others. It is a life of righteous living that Jesus explained in his Sermon on the Mount. Essentially righteous living means loving God and your neighbor: Feeding the poor, clothing the naked, taking care of the sick.
The 10 bridesmaids are awakened by a shout, announcing the bridegroom’s arrival. The foolish didn’t have enough oil and were denied oil by the wise. They left to buy more and missed the bridegroom’s coming. As is Jewish custom, the bridegroom comes and escorts the bride and her bridesmaids back to his home, where the wedding feast would last for days. But who is the bridegroom in Jesus’s parable? Is it not the Son of Man? The Son of God empties himself to become a fragile human being, a Son of Man. He experiences what it means to live in a broken world, treated with injustice, and inhumanity, eventually dying in humility and great suffering on the cross. But, this Son of Man is also the Son of Man foretold by the prophet Daniel, as the one who comes in the clouds. He comes with power and vindication as the presence of God on earth.
So, the bridegroom in the parable is Jesus, Son of God, Son of Man. Jesus embodies the kingdom of heaven. He is the abiding presence of God, Emmanuel – God with us. He is the Holy One who conquered sin and death, who rose on the third day. He is the Anointed One who ascended to his father and sits at his right hand, ruling the world. Jesus ends the parable with the command: “keep awake, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Remember that both the wise and foolish fell asleep. It seems to me to “keep awake” involves
But to be one of the wise bridesmaids means that we are the church, who have been saved by grace true faith. And faith always involves action. It involves us actively working for God’s justice, love, and peace in the world. It involves us intentionally spending time with Jesus and being in the moment, so Christ is relevant in our lives. And, it involves us carrying the message of the gospels to others, so Jesus matters to them, too. If we don’t actively work to help others, are we living faithful lives? How do our choices show others that Jesus matters? Are we the foolish or wise bridesmaids? I think if we are honest with ourselves, we can see a little of both.
There are times we think of ourselves and not our neighbor. Our concerns become our focus. The poor, the homeless, too often become a nameless demographic that disappears as part of the landscape in our communities and are ignored and forgotten. Or they are objectified for our own sense of self-worth at the expense of their dignity and humanity. Other times we gather as a community to help a church member. Their hurt is our hurt, their joy is our joy. Or, we donate to the food panty or for World Hunger Relief. Yet, the faithful life is more than just our individual decisions. The faithful life is about pursuing the Truth and the Life. And being shaped and transformed by the Truth and the Life. This truth, eternal life, is the Son of God, Jesus Christ. It is in and through Jesus Christ that we live. Therefore, the faithful life is always social, it is about community. It is in the community of believers that we are prepared to live a life pleasing to God.
At the baptismal font, water and word, Spirit and promise are given. In this bath, God’s grace is given to us as a wedding garment. We are created anew out of the chaos of sin, daily dying to sin and rising to a new resurrected life in union with Christ. It is in worshipping as a community that we humbly come before God. We humbly bow at our Lord’s feet and repent. We acknowledge our sin and turn back toward God. We humbly come before God seeking his mercy. It is in lowering ourselves before God, in worship, that Jesus Christ lifts us up and into the divine life of the Triune God.
In hearing the Word and proclaiming the Word, We are enlightened and transformed by the Spirit. In all these things, we encounter Christ. In this encounter we are transformed. We are set apart and made holy, prepared for righteous living. We are empowered for mission. In helping those in need, we look into the face of Christ. We embody the kingdom of heaven. Through Jesus Christ, we are able to continue his saving work. We are the wise bridesmaids because we are prepared through Jesus Christ.
This parable is a call to all of us to examine our lives. We are called to remember our dependence on God. We are called to endure in the faith and to be diligent in our witness to the gospel, a witness involving actions of love. And the parable is a message of hope that Christ rules this world and when he returns, He will set all things right and bring us into God’s great celebration of the transfiguration of the world.
In his ascension, Jesus carried up our humanity with him, so that we can have dignity and can be redeemed, so man can become like God, sharing in the nature, love, and life of the Trinity. And when Jesus returns he will descend from heaven in the clouds, calling his faithful bridesmaids “with a cry of command, with the archangel's call and with the sound of God's trumpet.” And we will be caught up in the clouds with him, which is to say that we will share and participate in Christ’s victory and will immediately escort the Bridegroom, our conquering King, back to earth, where the new Jerusalem has come down, heaven is on earth, and God dwells among mortals.
For now, the church has a foretaste of the feast to come, in which we receive our King, Jesus Christ, in his body and blood. But when our Lord returns, the Bridegroom’s wise bridesmaids will enter into the celebration and joy of the wedding feast that has no end.
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 for 2020-2021. 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, 22nd of November : 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.
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