Monthly Newsletter – March 2024

Hope Beyond Our Lament

Dear friends,

We’re talking about Lament in our midweek Lenten services—Lament, the sense of discouragement, disappointment, the feeling that things are just not right, not the way hey should be, are meant to be.

That feeling arises out of many circumstances—the losses we’ve all suffered, grief, regret, the brokenness of humanity and the world.

So, what has the power to overcome this feeling that weighs us down, this lament over our human situation?

I can’t think of anything more powerful, more hopeful, than the story of the Resurrection.

I’ve taken to often reading the gospel resurrection accounts at funerals—especially at funerals of persons loosely connected to the church, because it may have been a long time (or never) since these folks have heard the story of Jesus overcoming death through dying and rising again.

As the women went to the tomb, they were sad, worried, scared. Their beloved rabbi was crucified, buried in the tomb. What would become of them now? Even though Jesus had told them this would happen, they had no way to hold on to such an unlikely outcome. The dead do not rise, in our experience.

The Easter story tells us differently. He was raised. His life, everlasting life, means new hope to us, his people, and to the world. We lament the current state of things. We hope beyond our lament in the power of the resurrection to bring us and the world to new life.

We celebrate at Easter that story, that outcome, that hope. I look forward to celebrating it all   with you, over the sacred, holy days of Holy Week.

A fellow pilgrim on the way with you,

Pastor Joel

Parish Register

Deaths 

Jacqueline Ann DiVirgilio Silkowski* ~ August 8, 1946 – February 1, 2024

Marion E. “Andy” Thomas ~ November 12, 1943 – February 3, 2024

* – Friend of St Matthew

We look forward to baptisms currently scheduled for March 17 and May 19

If it is difficult for you to make it to Sunday worship and you’d like to have the office email you the weekly bulletin, please send us a message and we’ll add you to the list.

Music Ministry

Nearly four years ago, the world came to a halt as the COVID-19 shutdown began in mid-March.  Looking back, the time was filled with uncertainty, fear, and doubt.  No one knew how the pandemic would unfold or what to do when our daily routines were completely disrupted.  For many, faith was the guiding hope that we would see a brighter day.  Christ reminds us that even in our darkest hours, He is with us, and He alone can redeem this world.  As we look forward in anticipation of the Easter Season, we may continue to be filled with uncertainty, fear, and doubt for any number of reasons. Throughout this Lenten season, may we seek introspection, repentance, and spiritual growth, as our musical selections will reflect the gravity of this season. The choirs continue to diligently rehearse pieces that capture the depth of the Lenten experience, creating an atmosphere that encourages contemplation and draws us closer to the profound meaning of Easter.  The power of music to convey emotion and convey the message of hope during this time of penance is unmatched, and we invite all members of our congregation to join us in this musical journey.

As we move through Lent, our anticipation for the joyous celebration of Easter intensifies. The music ministry looks forward in its preparation to the uplifting and triumphant Easter Sunday service, where we will proclaim the resurrection of our Lord with exuberance and joy.  We warmly invite members of our congregation to consider joining the music ministry for this special season.  Whether you are an experienced musician or a novice singer, there is a place for you in our ensemble.  Your participation will not only enhance our worship experience but also provide a unique opportunity for personal growth and fellowship.  Together, let us use the gift of music to elevate our collective worship during Lent and Easter, fostering a sense of community and unity among our church family.

“In Christ alone, my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song; this Cornerstone,

this solid Ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.” ~Stuart Townend and Keith Getty

Yours In Christ

Alan

Give a ride to worship

We’re renewing our list of folks who can provide a ride to worship for our members without transportation. If you can help out with this at any time, please contact the church office or speak to Pastor Joel.

(worship is always livestreamed on the St Matthew Facebook page)—many thanks to our Camera Crew we’re seeking another Camera Crew member—could that be you?)

This year’s Lenten Giving Project

We will dig deep in our pockets for a collection for the Salvation Army Bloomsburg office.  They do a lot of good without always having much to work with. We can help serve our neighborhood by sharing our gifts this Lenten season.  Mark your offering Salvation Army.

We dig a little deeper in Lent—we are always given enough to share—we give from what we’ve received.  We’ll also have our regular March collection for Bundles of Blessing Diaper Ministry during Lent.  We know this is also an area of great need. Help as you can.

First Communion Class, Saturday, April 13, 10am   

The class meets Saturday, April 13, 10am. The class is open to youngsters age 4 and up whose parents feel they are ready to receive Holy Communion. If you feel your child is ready (regardless of age) please speak to Pastor Joel as soon as possible to confirm a spot in the class and so materials may be ordered. First Communion will be received Sunday, April 21—Good Shepherd Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Easter. 

Wed., Feb 28, noon – Midweek Lenten   Holy Lament – “Little” Laments

Sunday, Mar 3, 9am  Worship  3rd Sunday in Lent

Wed., Mar 6, noon – Midweek Lenten   Holy Lament – Laments from the Depths

Sunday, Mar 10, 9am  Worship   4th Sunday in Lent

Wed., Mar 13, noon – Midweek Lenten   Holy Lament – Individual Lament

Sunday, Mar 17, 9am  Worship   5th Sunday in Lent

Wed., Mar 20, noon – Midweek Lenten   Holy Lament – Communal Lament

As noted, we plan to livestream all worship services, as well as Holy Week (noted below). Livestreamed worship can be accessed at any later time.

Sunday, Mar 24, 9am  Worship   Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion

Thursday, Mar 28, 7pm  Worship  Maundy Thursday

Friday, Mar 29, 7pm  Worship  Good Friday

Sunday, Mar 31, 9am  Worship  The Resurrection of Our Lord/Easter Day 

The theme for Midweek Lenten Worship, noon on Wednesdays, 2/21-3/20, is Holy Lament—

There is much grief, much sorrow, much disappointment in the way of life in the world around us. It is a faithful discipline for us to face our grief and disappointment head on, asking God to transform these feelings into deep, abiding joy and renewed hope.

We’ll talk about Lament, our “Little” Laments, Laments from the Depths, Individual Lament, Communal Lament

Pastor’s Class

Pastor’s Class meets Thursdays 10:30am. The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to the Holy Spirit: Hand Raisers, Han, and the Holy Ghost. Join in. The conversation is always scintillating.

St Matt Breakfast is served Saturday March 9 at 9am. It’s a time for us to come together around breakfast, share prayers and company. If you’re attending please sign up on the Bulletin Board.

St Matthew serves the Wesley Community Meal Saturday March Signup sheet for those who will help serve is on the Gathering Area Bulletin Board.

Equal Exchange

Chocolate bars – mint crunch, orange infused, milk, very dark 71%, extra dark Panama 80%. 

Also many varieties of organic teas, 2 kinds of hot cocoa.

And the exotic!—Dried Mango. 

Full-flavored, fairly-traded, organic, wholesale prices for you;

the gift of life for the growers/ producers as members in the Equal Exchange co-op.  

Plus, Organic Virgin Olive Oil and Dates from Palestine.

Available on the cart on Sundays and whenever the church office is open.

Automated giving provides convenience for you and cash-flow consistency for St. Matthew.

Getting started is easy. Check out the giving portal on our homepage: stmatthewbloomsburg.org

¨ Many thanks to St Matt Thrivent members who direct their choice dollars giving to the ministry of St Matt and our mutual benefit! 

¨ Follow St. Matthew on Facebook! 

Don’t Let The Food Cupboard Go Bare! 

Help the Bloomsburg Food Cupboard serve 400+ families each week with enough groceries to feed and care for our neighbors.

In March we’re collecting Pasta and Rice and Noodles, and it’s the quarterly collection of  Diapers for Bundles of Blessings.

Before each weekend or school break, elementary school students in the Panther Pack program are sent home with a bag of breakfast, lunch and snack items. This helps families feed children when they are not in school. Currently, the Food Cupboard assembles over 250 Panther Pack items every week. The single serve cereal and oatmeal packets are very popular items that run out fast!    

Help your coffee, tea, and chocolate purchases make a difference!

St Matthew offers Equal Exchange fairly-traded products at wholesale prices throughout the year. 

Fairly-traded means that everyone in the supply chain is compensated fairly and is able to work in a healthy environment.  Equal Exchange trades only with farmer cooperatives who vote and together decide how to use their premiums in their communities. Premiums support environmental initiatives like beekeeping, protecting the pollinators their crops depend on.  EE is committed to fully traceable supply chains to counter the child and forced labor problems in West Africa. 

Thank you for supporting small-scale farmers, their communities and the environment with your purchases of fairly-traded chocolate, nuts, coffee, fruit, tea, cocoa, and olive oil.

 …and what does the Divine require of you, but to do  justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?  Micah 6 :8

Fair Trade Project

Thank you for supporting small-scale farmers, their communities and the environment with your purchases of fairly-traded chocolate, nuts, coffee, fruit, tea, cocoa, and olive oil.

Full-flavored, fairly-traded, organic, wholesale prices for you; the gift of life for the growers/ producers as members in the Equal Exchange Co-op.

Plus, Organic Virgin Olive Oil and Dates from Palestine.

Available on the cart on Sundays and whenever the church office is open.

Baking supplies! Chocolate chips (55%), baking cocoa, almonds, pecans and cashews.

Fairly-traded, organic, wholesale prices for you; the gift of life for the growers/ producers as members in the Equal

Exchange coop. Available on the Fair Trade Project cart on Sundays and whenever the church office is open.

New on the Fair Trade Cart—Mind, Body & Soul Coffee (whole bean).

Blend of medium and Vienna roasts—smooth & creamy with chocolate notes.

Community Blessing Box Offerings

JESUS SAID, GO AND DO LIKEWISE LUKE 10:37

Community Blessing Box Offerings

As you consider offerings to the Community Blessing Box, here are some items we’ve found to be in great demand:

Food items

Individual size heat ‘n eats in flip-top cans

Snack crackers (Lance, Keebler, etc.)

Pop Tarts

Individual size cereals, apple sauce/fruit

Canned/packaged chicken/ham/tuna salad, spam, beef jerky

Spaghetti sauce (paired with boxed pasta)

Personal core items 

small) Toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, deodorant

(small)(bottles) Laundry soap, fabric softener/dryer sheets 

Tablets & pens

Toilet paper

Socks

Wash cloths

Special thanks to Kathy Stewart for managing this vital ministry.

Food for Thought: (we Picked up some tips from another newsletter—to help you help others) So, I spent some time at a Food Bank today, and spoke to the people getting food. Here are some things I learned from those in need.

Boxed milk is a treasure, as kids need it for cereal which they also get a lot of.

Oil is a luxury but needed for rice a roni which they also get a lot of.

Spices or salt and pepper would be a real Christmas gift. 

Tea bags and coffee make them feel like you care.

Sugar and flour are treats.

Tuna and crackers make a good lunch. 

Dishwashing detergent is very expensive and is always appreciated Feminine hygiene products are a luxury and women will cry over that. Everyone loves Stove Top stuffing. In all the years I have donated food at the holidays, I bought what I thought they wanted,  but have never asked. I am glad I did.

WELCA Quilters meet to do their work 2nd & 4th Tuesdays., 8-noon,and always welcome helping hands. Thanks to these hard-working women for their ongoing ministry. The quilters are always in need of your donations of new or gently used sheets.  Thank you to all who support this ministry.