Rainbows always give me hope. In the Old Testament, when Noah saw the rainbow in the sky after the Great Flood, it was the sign that it was safe to emerge from the ark. But it was also a sign that the old world, the only world he had ever known, had been washed away. He would be walking out into a new world that he didn't know. All of the mess of the old world was gone. The future that was now possible was yet to be revealed. In this way, the rainbow is a transition point, a doorway to new possibilities.
In the newest polling by Gallup capturing religious trends in 2020, U.S. membership in faith communities was below 50% of those polled for the first time in the history of Gallup polling. This is not a new trend. The rate of membership in faith communities has been declining in the US for some time, which hovered around 70% when first measured in 1937 through the turn of the 21st century. However, this is a big milestone in the ongoing trend away from religious affiliation in our country.
Interestingly, the number of Americans who think religion is increasing in importance saw a bump during the last year, although by December those numbers were declining back toward the trend line of reduced influence that began in the early 2000s. This is likely due to the pandemic, as such a pattern has been observed in other times of crisis in our nation’s past.
What does this mean forSt. Paul's? This trend might merely represent those who were “on the rolls” but not attending for years. It might mean losses of attendance related to the pandemic may be permanent. It might mean that these declines in church membership and religious affiliation, along with the pandemic, will mean some listening to God and one another as figuring out how we move forward. with two congregations (In person and on line).
It is clear that many more Americans have a religious preference than maintain membership or attendance in a particular faith community. What would happen if we asked what those followers of Jesus need who are not connected with a faith community?
These are some of the many questions we will be pondering and praying about on our retreat. Please plan on attending. SATURDAY - APRIL 17 - 9-4. LUNCH PROVIDED.
So many of us are hurting right now. So many of us are struggling with addictions and anxiety and stress and emotional exhaustion and traumas. It becomes easy to lose hope. It becomes easy to think we are going to be endlessly stuck in the Great Flood of pain that we are tempted to give up and succumb. I understand that. But it's never true, because...
Then a rainbow appears. A doorway of hope opens. A friend shows up. A job comes through. An intervention happens. A person offers forgiveness. A treatment works. An unexpected check comes in the mail. A donation is made. Hope becomes REAL.
The part you have to be ready for is this: you have to have the courage to say "yes." You have to say "yes" to the new world and the new possibilities, to emerge from the ark of pain and loss, grief and unknowing. No one can take that step for you. It's yours to claim for yourself. It may be the hardest and bravest thing you have ever done in your life.
Here is what I do know: a new and wonderful world awaits us on the other side of pain. God's promise to us was never that we would live lives free of pain. We are free beings and as such are capable of creating great pain for ourselves and others. God values our freedom enough to tolerate our suffering. God's promise was that we would never be alone. God is always there, hoping for our healing and our wholeness.
If you are feeling devastated by the mess of the world or the mess of your life, I hope you will keep your eyes aimed toward the sky. The rainbows are there. The new world awaits. You have every reason to hope, if you have the courage to say "yes."
Do remember: you are not alone. You have people who love you and a God who will never give up on you. With that in your favor, your best days are ahead.
Stay safe and well.....Shalom,
St. Paul's Easter Sunday Celebration as seen in the Big Bend Sentinel
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's Easter Message
Hymn of the Month by Beth Kerzee
#178 Alleluia, Alleluia! Give Thanks to the Risen Lord
Give thanks to the Risen Lord.
Give praise to His name.
- Jesus is Lord of all the earth.
He is the King of creation.
- Spread the good news o’er all the earth;
Jesus has died and has risen.
- We have been crucified with Christ.
Now we shall live forever.
- Come, let us praise the living God,
Joyfully sing to our Savior.
Scripture references: Vs.3 = Rom. 6:6, Gal. 2:20
Surrounded by “alleluias,” the text presents the good news of Easter: Christ is risen! In this hymn we sing Pauline phrases that proclaim the new life we have in the risen Christ.
Donald E. Fishel (b. Hart, MI 1950) composed both text and tune “rather spontaneously” during the summer of 1971 in a house on Church Street in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The hymn was first sung in services of the Word of God Community in Ann Arbor, a charismatic Roman Catholic congregation that Fishel had then recently joined; he later served that community as publications editor of Servant Music (1973-1981). Fishel received a bachelor’s degree in instrumental music education from the University of Michigan in 1972 and a degree in computer science from Eastern Michigan University in 1983. Since then, he has worked in the computer industry.
From ---Psalter Hymnal Handbook
St. Paul's Retreat
Saturday - APRIL 17th - 9 - 4
In person & online
If you will be in person, please RSVP
Lunch will be provided.
CANVAS OF HOPE
MAY 1ST, 2021 AT 1PM MDT
Rio Grande Borderland Ministries (RGBM) is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande that provides humanitarian support to vulnerable people in our border communities. We help to ensure that our migrant neighbors are welcomed with dignity. As global pandemic surges and changes to immigration and policy enforcement continue, the need for relief and advocacy for people at the border increases.
In order to spread awareness and build our network of supporters, Rio Grande Borderland Ministries is hosting an online community art fundraiser titled Canvas of Hope. The event will feature artists passionate about migration, including musical performances, poetry readings, artist talks, and a live virtual art auction.
Please join us for Canvas of Hope on Saturday, May 1, from 1:00 PM MDT to 2:30 PM MDT. Registration required.
Details regarding performances, artwork to be auctioned, and more are forthcoming as we draw closer to the event.
Questions? Reach out to Nellie Fagan, RGBM Project Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The needs of paying the the church bills, funding our ministries, and proclaiming the Good News continues during this Pandemic. Please consider making a monthly gift.
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!---to all of you who have contributed and continue to contribute to our virtual collection plate. Some of you have made it a monthly donation through our "Donate Button. Either way you have done it....it is greatly appreciated.
For those of you who have not checked out how easy it is to donate on line....Go to our website-http://stpaulsmarfa.org- Go to the bottom and find the "Donate" --click on it and fill in the blanks.... OR go to https://www.dioceserg.org/donate and continue to support our mission and ministry.
ALSO---Thank you, thank you, thank you for all who have mailed in pledges and donations.
Things to do to benefit the church and the community during the Coronavirus Restrictions
1. THE MARFA FOOD PANTRY IS EMPTY! - Keep bringing food donations...our doors are open 24 hours and you will find a basket at the back of the church.
2. Pray for Rudy and Allison.
3. Pray for our country.
4. Unaccompanied Children at our borders.