From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

St. Paul’s News

This Sunday December 23: Advent 4 and Choral Cantata

This coming Sunday we mark the fourth Sunday of Advent with our choral cantata at both services. Again this year it’s quite a large choir. They’ve been putting in many hours of work and rehearsal to make this a fine presentation. Here’s a bit of the promotional material that describes the cantata:

Combining the passion of Celtic musical traditions and the joyous celebration of Christ’s birth, Season of Joy offers a spectacular collection of new and beloved seasonal songs that will perfectly complement any Christmas program. Acclaimed arranger/orchestrator Daniel Semsen has brilliantly married traditional Celtic instrumentation with a vibrant contemporary sound. Featuring four new songs by Keith and Kristyn Getty, this one-of-a-kind musical combines such Irish classics as “The Wexford Carol” with exciting new Celtic-inspired arrangements of Chris Tomlin’s “Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground)” and Travis Cottrell’s “Jesus Saves.” A standout offering is the stunning overture, which features fiddles, penny whistles and bagpipes. No less than one dozen familiar carols artfully weave their way through the work, inviting your congregation to fully join the celebration.

I’m not familiar with all the names, but I know Keith and Kristyn Getty write beautiful music which we’ve sung before.You can hear audio clips by going here and scrolling to the bottom of the page.

So I encourage you to come and join us in celebrating this season of joy.


Porky Pastor Project Wraps Up

The numbers are in! 44 of us joined together to lose weight over the past 8 weeks, using any means or methods we chose (actually we started with 54 but some folks dropped out or just didn’t weigh-out). Now we’ve weighed out and we lost…..drumroll….weight for it (ha)…246.8 pounds! 11 of them were mine! So we’ve equivalently lost a person I guess. I don’t know who the “biggest loser” was, but they lost nearly 30 pounds. Wow!

So now our pledgers need to do their part. If you pledged, or if you just want to make a donation, send your contribution marked “Porky Pastor”. I’d very much like to present this gift to KinderCottage before Christmas as they can surely use it.

BTW if you’re not familiar with KinderCottage, or if you are but would like to get updated, check out their website here.

We Met The Reifschneider Challenge!

  Well here it is – last Friday Chad Rhutasel (and his fill-in Mike Walton), Bill Clossen and I took on the Reifschneider Challenge: eating 8 of their specially-hot chicken wings in 13 minutes. It was tough – more than once I thought I was going to lose it before I finished. Somehow I did it but believe me, it was a LOT harder than it looks! While it looks like I’m looking around, I was pretty much aware of only two things – the next wing and the state of my stomach, which was pretty much in shock. I was practically disabled most of Friday night and Saturday morning.

Was it worth it? Well the crowd had promised $115 per wing! The three of us ate our 8 wings each, so we wound up raising $2760 for Kindercottage! For that, yes, I’d do it again!

Thanks to Gini Asbridge who made this video; and to Kevin Mank (who works at the restaurant) for drumming up all the pledges from restaurant staff, and to all our church folks who did the same. And to everyone who came out to cheer us on!


Friends of the Groom Were Here

Friends of the Groom were with us last weekend and it was a great time. On Saturday we participated in a workshop designed to help us, or any local church, look at Scripture from a different, dramatic angle. Below are some pics from that workshop. Below that are pictures of the rehearsal of the “frozen tableaux” series we performed as illustrations of Nehemiah 8.


Weekday Updates Available At St. Paul’s

Every Wednesday I sent out a “Weekday Update” with info on attendance, offerings and doings of the week along with a few pix. There’s also reminders to those who are serving as lectors, ushers, nursery attendants, etc. If you’d like to get this weekly update (they’re brief and to the point) just email me with the word “subscribe” in the body or subject line.

My address is

Over 80’s

On October 14 we honored our church members over the age of 80 both in our worship services and with our luncheon following. It was good to see so many people honoring those over 80. In fact many of us are over 90! Here’s our “class of 2012” – click on the picture for a larger image.

In this world where we celebrate the new just because it’s new, it’s counter-cultural to stop and say “hey, this is old and that’s good!” I’ve come to appreciate longevity, durability, loyalty and long-term faithfulness now that I’ve seen more of life’s journey. So I avoid cliches like “she 80 years young” – what, she’s still naive after all this time? Hasn’t she learned anything in 80 years? I think it’s time we stop worshiping the new and start appreciating the old.

Because there’s really no particular virtue in being either old or young. In our walk with Christ we’re always babies. It’s just that sometimes it takes 80 years or more to realize it.

Friends Of The Groom Is (Are?) Coming

The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. John 3:29 (ESV)

Several years ago, when my worship team and I attended the Calvin Worship Symposium, we saw a drama group called “Friends Of The Groom” and were quite impressed. I struggle a bit with describing them to you – “drama group” doesn’t quite do it. FOTG does do drama, but what impressed me was their illumination, or living illustration, of Scripture. Several times they simply presented a portion of Scripture – with movement and voice that made the meaning come alive. In other words, I appreciated their Biblical integrity.

That said, they’re also a funny group, pointing out human foibles with gentle (usually!) sense of humor. Don’t get me wrong – they’re not silly. But there is a lightheartedness about the faith that lets us see ourselves and others honestly.

Check out their website here for biographies, samples, etc.

Now why am I telling you all this? FOTG will be here at St. Paul’s the weekend of October 26-28 with several opportunities to enjoy them:

  • Friday evening performance in the sanctuary, 7:00 pm; tickets are $10 and can be purchased thru the church office, or one of many sponsors; refreshments will follow in the Baltz Parlor
  • Saturday workshops – FOTG will work with youth and adults in interpreting and expressing Scripture through drama and movement; cost is $10
  • Sunday worship – FOTG will assist in leading worship at both services.